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14 Species of Boas and Pythons: Amazing Constricting Snakes

Updated on August 27, 2015

Joined: 3 years agoFollowers: 19Articles: 22

Boas and pythons are some of the largest snakes in the world. They kill their prey by constricting it, using their strong muscles and coiled bodies to suffocate their prey before eating. Unlike elapids and vipers, boas and pythons are nonvenomous. They are frequently kept as pets due to their docile nature and easy care.

Here are some key differences between Boas and Pythons:

  • Pythons are found in Africa, in the tropics just south of the Sahara Desert. They can also be found in Asian countries like Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Some pythons live on the Indonesian islands and Malaysia. However, most pythons in the United States are bred as pets; while they could survive and thrive in places like the Florida everglades, it is important to keep these snakes in captivity so they do not become a huge problem for the other animals that live in these subtropical regions.
  • Boas are found in Mexico, Central and South America, and Madagascar. The largest member of the group is the boa constrictor, but it is important to note that this is only one species of boa—all boas are constrictors. A constrictor is a snake that kills prey by constriction.

1. Anaconda

  • Anacondas live in the marshes, swamps, and slow-moving streams of the Amazon and Orinoco basins in South America. They are slow on land but stealthy and quick in the water. Their eyes and nasal passages are on the top of their heads, allowing them to almost completely submerge themselves in the water to wait for prey and approach their hideaways.

Anaconda Facts:
• Boa family
• Found in South America's Amazon and Orinoco basins
• Thirty-foot maximum length
• Ten-year average lifespan in the wild
• Weigh up to 550 pounds
• Eat wild pigs, jaguars, deer, birds, turtles, caimans, and capybara
• Females significantly larger than males
• Females retain eggs and give birth to live young, usually two or three dozen at a time
• Baby snakes about two feet long when born

2. Ball Python

  • Ball pythons are among the most common pet snakes in the world. They do not get very large compared to other snakes in the python family, and they are relatively easy to care for. There are many kinds of ball python morphs. This snake is named for its ability to coil itself in a ball as protection from predators. Ball pythons originated from and live in the dry grasses of the north and central African savannas or along the forest edges. They can climb into trees, but rarely do so.

Ball Python Facts:
• Python family
• Found in Northern and Central Africa
• Five-foot maximum length
• Live up to 30-50 years in captivity
• Eat rodents, gerbils, and rats
• Sexually mature at five years of age
• Females lay eggs, which take up to 80 days to hatch

3. Blood Python

  • Blood Pythons (python curtis) live in the forest regions of Southeast Asia. They are heavily built, meaning they are fairly wide for their length. Their tails are short, while their bodies are thick compared to other snakes of the Python family. Color patterns consist of beige, tan or grayish-brown ground color overlaid with blotches that are brick- to blood-red in color. These snakes are killed for their skin. Roughly 100,000 blood pythons are harvested every year for their scales. They are also kept as exotic pets, but are aggressive compared to the docile ball python.

Blood Python Facts:
• Python family
• Found in forest regions of Southeast Asia
• Ten-foot maximum length
• Females rarely lay more than a dozen eggs
• Eggs hatch after two or three months
• Eat rodents no bigger than the widest points of the snake's body

Handling a Blood Python

4. Boa Constrictor

  • Boa constrictors come in a variety of colors. Generally, they are a brown, grey, or cream color with red and brown patterns. These patterns become more pronounced near the tail, as in the case of the red-tailed boa. The coloring is an effective camouflage in the jungles and forests of South and Central America, where this species is most commonly found. These snakes prefer the rainforest because of the humidity, but can survive in near-desert climates if necessary.

Boa Constrictor Facts:
• Boa family
• Found in the jungles and forests of Central and South America
• Thirteen-foot maximum length
• Weigh up to 60 pounds
• Females larger and heavier than males
• Females give birth to live young
• After mating, female can retain the male's sperm for up to a year
• Eat small to medium rodents, birds, and other animals

Boa Eating an Alligator

5. Calabar Python

  • Adapted to burrowing, the Calabar python's body is cylindrical with a blunt head and equally blunt tail. The head is covered with enlarged shields used for protection and for burrowing into the ground. The shape of the tail closely resembles that of the head, which is most likely used to confuse predators. This snake lives in the moist rainforests of west and central Africa, but can be found as far east as Lake Kivu.

Calabar Facts:
• Boa family, but considered a python until 1993
• Found in west and central Africa
• Three-foot maximum length
• Females lay between one and three large eggs
• Eats small rodents

6. Carpet Python

  • Carpet pythons are found mostly in Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea. Like Ball Pythons, this snake is bred into many different colored morphs. There is no one distinct color for this species. These snakes lay eggs and the mother snake coils around her eggs until they hatch, but after the eggs hatch, the mother snake does not care for her young. Carpet pythons are usually nocturnal but often warm themselves in the sun.

Carpet Python Facts:
• Python family
• Found in Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea
• Thirteen-foot maximum length
• Weighs up to 33 pounds
• Females lay 30-50 eggs at a time
• Docile as adults, but aggressive as hatchlings
• Nonvenomous but powerful bite
• Eats small mammals, bats, lizards, and rodents

7. Emerald Tree Boa

  • Emerald Tree Boas are rarely seen on the ground. These snakes coil themselves around tree branches waiting for prey to get close enough. They have a slower metabolism than other snakes so they can go months without eating. These snakes live in the rainforests of South America. They have highly developed front teeth that are proportionately larger than those of any other nonvenomous snakes. Females give birth to live young, producing an average of between 6 and 14 babies at a time, sometimes even more.

Emerald Tree Boa Facts:
• Boa family
• Found in rainforests of South America
• Eight-foot maximum length
• Babies born red or orange
• Eat birds, small mammals, and frogs

8. Garden Tree Boa

  • Found in the Amazon rainforests of South America, the Garden Tree Boa is a beautiful, nonvenomous snake that comes in a variety of bright colors. Some are totally patternless, while others may be speckled, banded, or saddled with rhomboid or chevron shapes. Some are red with yellow patterns, some yellow with red or orange patterns. These snakes are slimmer than most other boas and fairly lightweight for their length.

Garden Tree Boa Facts:
• Boa family
• Found in Amazon rainforests of South America
• Six-and-a-half-foot maximum length
• Typically found below 300m elevation
• Very aggressive

9. Mexican Burrowing Snake

  • These snakes resemble members of the python family, but are believed to be unrelated. They are probably most closely related to the pythons from the Australian/New Guinean region, but this is not certain. They live in Mexico and Central America, on the Pacific Ocean coasts.

Mexican Burrowing Snake Facts:
• Loxocemidae family
• Found near the ocean in Mexico and Central America
• Four-foot maximum length
• Females lay 2-4 eggs at a time
• Eats rodents, lizards, and lizard eggs

10. Rainbow Boa

  • This boa species is found in Central and South America, but is most prominent in Suriname. The most colorful species live in the Brazilian rainforest. Although it is a hard animal to raise in captivity, it is a common pet. It gets its name from the iridescent sheen of its scales, not the actual color. Most Rainbow Boas are red to orange in color, with distinct, usually circular, black markings.

Rainbow Boa Facts:
• Boa family
• Found in Central and South America but especially Suriname
• Four- to seven-foot maximum length
• Docile, but can bite when young
• Eats small mammals including rodents

11. Reticulated Python

  • The Reticulated Python is the longest snake in the world—four feet longer than the second longest, the Green Anaconda. It is found in forests, grassland, and farmland throughout Southeast Asia. This snake does eat humans if threatened, but attacks are very rare. The snake's color pattern is complex and geometric, incorporating many different colors. There are m any size, color, and marking variations among Reticulated Pythons depending upon where they live.

Reticulated Python Facts:
• Python family
• Found in Southeast Asia
• Longest snake in the world with 32-foot maximum length
• Can swim and have been found in the ocean
• Eat wild pigs, monkeys, chickens, and small mammals

12. Rosy Boa

  • This boa's name comes from the rosy or salmon coloration on its belly. Rosy Boas originate from coastal southern California and Baja California in Mexico. Most Rosy Boas do not have this coloration on their undersides, however, but instead have a series of dark orange spots on a light-colored background. Almost all Rosy Boas have at least some trace of three longitudinal stripes: one down the center of the back and two on the lower sides. These boas live primarily in rocky, desert environments where they can shield themselves from predators.

Rosy Boa Facts:
• Boa family
• Found in Southern California and Baja California
• Three-foot maximum length
• One of only boas originating in the U.S.
• Very docile. Considered harmless to humans
• Eats rats, birds, lizards, and baby rabbits

13. Rubber Boa

  • Rubber Boas live in the cool western regions of North America, often on mountainsides at high altitudes. Along with the Rosy Boa, it is one of only two boas native to the United States. It spends most of its time on the ground, but can also burrow, swim, and climb trees to find food. The Rubber Boa is one of the smallest boas in the world. Most do not exceed two feet in length.

Rubber Boa Facts:
• Boa family
• Found in mountainous regions of Western North America
• Two-foot maximum length
• Most northern-dwelling boa species
• One of most docile boas
• Gives birth to live young
• Can survive cold temperatures as far north as British Columbia
• Eat birds, small mammals, and amphibians

14. Sand Boa

  • The Sand Boa inhabits dry grassland in Northeastern Africa and the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula. It burrows through sand and loose soil in search of small mammals and nesting birds. During the hotter times of the year, it seeks refuge beneath stones and in the burrows of small mammals. These snakes spend most of their time in shallow burrows with only their head exposed.

Sand Boa Facts:
• Boa family
• Found in northeastern African and the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula
• Three-foot maximum length
• Very docile
• Females give birth to 15-20 live babies every year
• Eat birds and small animals

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    • Tannor McCreary 5 weeks ago

      There is only 14

    • kaleb 11 months ago

      like the alligator and snake.

    • Dan 12 months ago

      Biggest anaconda on record is 26 feet retic are real aggressive i kno from pro breeder over 30 years breeding n biggest is 33 feet eats a goat. Ball pythons can get to 6 feet biggest boa on record is 18 feet but dont really get that big

    • 17 months ago

      Hi! What's kind of snake is the blue one? :))

    • Fateslayer99 profile image

      Fateslayer99 21 months ago from North Carolina

      I might be able to help :) what's the picture?

    • 21 months ago

      Found a boa or Python today not sure what it is need a lil help I have picture. Anybody

    • Fateslayer99 profile image

      Fateslayer99 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks for the catch Snakesmum! I didn't realize that I had accidentally done this in some of my other snake hubs from a while ago, too.

      Also, that's so awesome that you have a royal python!! I just got one this year too, and she's super sweet! She's the one in my profile picture! :)

    • sweet!!! when I move out I'm gonna get a baby green anaconda 2 years ago

      Snakes are really call pets. Ive got a royal python,shes shedded her skin twic during the year and she is 4.2foot now!!!

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Beautiful pics of one of my favourite animals, snakes. That blue one in the intro is great! I have four pythons which are all friendly and placid animals.

      One little thing : In your intro you say "nonpoisonous" regarding these reptiles, whereas it should be "non-venomous". :-)

    • Fateslayer99 profile image

      Fateslayer99 2 years ago from North Carolina

      You're right! Thanks for the catch. They look similar! :)

    • BTC 2 years ago

      The picture of the adult emerald tree boa is actually a Green Tree Python

    • Fateslayer99 profile image

      Fateslayer99 2 years ago from North Carolina

      Probably! If you see anymore let me know and I'll fix it! This is mostly what I've gathered from different breeder sites, etc. Thanks for calling it out!

    • 2 years ago

      quite a few mistakes.

      Ball pythons mature a lot earlier, carpets lay 10-30 eggs etc etc.. ;)

    • Fateslayer99 profile image

      Fateslayer99 3 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank you so much! This was a very fun hub to write :)

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 3 years ago from Texas

      Awesome hub Fateslayer99. I am an avid reptile lover and I personally have a Burmese Python as a pet. I hadn't seen a couple of the species of Boa's in your hub, very informative. Voted up on your hub.

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