STATUS IN THE WILD: Least concern
RANGE: Northern Mexico, Central, and South America
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
As babies, red-tailed boas are fourteen to twenty-two inches long and are marked with bright coloration. As adults, they can reach lengths of ten feet and weigh fifty pounds, with some specimens growing even larger. They have brown and gray scales and large brownish-red to black oval patterns along their backs. These patterns get increasingly red toward the tail, which is how this species gets its name. They are large bodied snakes, with females being larger than males.
Red-tailed boas are constrictors and use their large, muscular bodies to squeeze prey. They have multiple rows of backward facing teeth, like fishhooks, to hold prey in place once captured before constricting.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
Males are polygamous and can mate with multiple females. Females may also have more than one mate per season, although most females do not reproduce annually. Gestation lasts from five to eight months, depending on the local temperatures. The average litter has twenty-five young but can range from ten to sixty-four young.
Boas are solitary animals except during the mating season. They are nocturnal but will bask in the sun to warm themselves during cool weather. As boas grow in size, they shed their skin. During shedding the skin splits over the snout and eventually peels back over the rest of their body. Boas spend most of their lives in trees or on the ground near water. The average lifespan of the red-tailed boa is 20 years.
These snakes can be found throughout Central and South America and on some islands off the coast of Mexico.
Red-tailed boas prefer to live in woodlands, semi-arid forests, and tropical rain forests.
They regularly feed on rats, mice, amphibians, eggs, snakes, birds, and other small animals.