Boa constrictor imperator
- Common names: common northern boa, common boa, or BCI
B. c. imperator is wide-ranging, with animals living in both Central America and northern parts of South America. As a result, the appearance of this snake varies greatly depending on the specific locality.
One population is found on the Cayos Cochinos (Hog Islands) off the north shore of Honduras. These are naturally hypomelanistic, which means that they have reduced melanin, and are thus more lightly colored, although they retain the distinctive darker tail that is characteristic of most members of this species. The color of the tail may vary from salmon pink to orange. A favorite among collectors, there are fears that they are almost extinct in the wild.
Another well known population of Boa constrictor imperator is the population from Nicaragua. While not as small as the dwarf insular island populations, adults are still smaller than the larger Boa constrictor constrictor. The size of a mature female Nicaraguan boa is 1.1 meters and 1.9 kilograms, while the larger female Boa constrictor constrictor is not mature until it reaches 1.6 meters and 4.5 kilograms. Nicaraguan individuals typically have a compact saddle pattern on their back that is often circular in shape. These boas have a reputation for being "nippy", with some individuals being quick to bite in self defense.
Mainland specimens from Colombia can be among the larger boas, but this subspecies also includes a number of dwarf insular populations, such as those from various Caribbean islands and the Sonoran Desert of Mexico. These populations represent the smallest of the species.
Some generalizations can be made despite the wide range that Boa constrictor imperator survives in. As one of the smaller Boa constrictor subspecies, they average between 1.3 m and 2.5 m in length when fully grown, but have been known to reach 3.7 m. They usually weigh around 6 kg (13lbs), although females are significantly larger than males. Lifespan in the wild is around 20–30 years, but 40 can be exceeded in captivity. Although B. c. imperator exhibits almost identical patterns to the other recognized subspecies of Boa constrictor, this subspecies often has a darker tail, usually dark brown or very dark red. They are however, usually just as colorful as their counterparts, and like the larger boas can be bred into a variety of different colors given the right conditions to breed.
This snake subspecies is becoming extremely popular in the exotic pet trade, due in part to the vast amounts of color and pattern morphs that breeders are creating, as well as their manageable size in comparison to the Boa constrictor constrictor.
Recently, experienced boa keepers have come to the conclusion that boa constrictors do better in PVC, or wooden enclosures, opposed to glass tanks. This makes humidity and heat much easier to maintain, as well as providing a sense of security for the snake. The minimum size is 4' long X 2' wide X 2' high, although a length of 5-6' would be better.
It is generally known that all of the Boa constrictor subspecies be fed rats, as an alternative to mice for healthier growth. Typically these snakes are very well tempered and easy to breed. Although not as thick-bodied as ball pythons, they do, on average, get longer and have a stronger feeding response in comparison to ball pythons.
- McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
- "Boa constrictor imperator". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=635078. Retrieved 7 July 2008.
- Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens
- Common Boa Constrictor - Boa constrictor imperator