Binghamton Zoo Animals
Species: Epicrates cenchria
HABITAT AND RANGE:
The Rainbow Boa is semi-arboreal, but
more terrestrial than other members of
the genus Epicrates. It favors
cultivated land, forest edges and rocky
locations in South America and southern
Central America, from Costa Rica all the
way down to northern Argentina.
A small to medium-sized snake of
semi-arboreal habits, it is stocky and
measures 5 feet at most. The coloration
is typically brownish above with an
irregular series of faint blotches that
are iridescent, justifying its name.
They possess vestiges of a pelvic girdle
and hind limbs. These are visible as
small, claw-like structures called spurs
located on either side of the opening of
the cloaca, or vent. The spurs are
larger in males than in females.
Individual joints, making the backbone
very flexible, connect the vertebrae to
each other. Most of the vertebrae
support a pair of ribs. The internal
organs, as in other snakes, are
elongated and arranged to suit the
narrow body cavity.
Boas are primarily a solitary animal,
seeking others of their own species only
during the mating season. They are
primarily crepuscular. Contrary to
popular belief, boas seldom defend
themselves by wrapping around their
attackers and crushing them with their
bodies. Instead, they try to intimidate
the attacker by inflating their bodies
with air, striking aggressively and
otherwise acting in a threatening
manner. Most boas are territorial and
the Rainbow Boa appears to be more so
than the other members of the genus.
The Rainbow Boa feeds mainly on small
birds, mammals and lizards. Like the
rest of their family, they swallow prey
whole and their mouth can expand a great
deal to allow prey larger than their
heads to be swallowed. Their jaws can
unhinge and the lower jaw is in two
pieces, which allows for greater
REPRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT:
Females are only receptive at certain
times of the year. They frequently emit
a pheromone which will attract males.
Males possess a paired genital organ,
but only half is used during copulation.
Rainbow Boas are ovovivivparous, which
means they hold the eggs inside their
bodies until they hatch. Then the baby
snakes emerge from the motherís body,
giving the appearance of a placental
birth. No placenta is present at any
time and all nourishment for the
hatchlings is gained from the egg inside
the motherís body. After hatching,
little or no parental care occurs.
Rainbow Boas can live up to 30 years in
the wild and even longer in captivity.
STATUS IN WILD:
The Rainbow Boa has no special status in