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Reptiles Guide

Boa genus


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Red-tailed Boa, Boa constrictor
Red-tailed Boa, Boa constrictor
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Boidae
Genus: Boa
Linnaeus, 1758
Boa Constrictor
Acrantophis dumerili
Acrantophis madagascariensis
Sanzinia madagascariensis

Boa is a genus of snakes in the family Boidae. Four species have commonly been placed in this genus. However three of them ( the Madagascar Ground Boa Acrantophis madagascariensis and the Madagascar Tree Boa Sanzinia madagascariensis and Dumerli's Boa Acrantophis dumerili (also from madagascar) are now regarded as only distantly related to the first species of the genus to be described, the Red-tailed Boa, Boa constrictor. All are nonetheless commonly known as "boa constrictors". To add further to the naming confusion, many species of snake in Boidae are known as "boas" and all are constrictors (that is, they kill their prey by constriction). Many subspecies of Boa constrictor have been recognised, and several have distinct common names.

Snakes of the species Boa constrictor are very common in Latin America, and perhaps the most sought after as pets. They can grow up to 5 metres and feed on birds and small mammals.

The Red-tailed Boa is the largest member of its family, with the largest recorded specimen being over 18 feet (5.5 m) long (though this is thought by some to possibly be a misidentification of species. It has an interesting pattern of brown and black with a red tail (see picture). It does well in captivity and tames easily and is a common sight in zoos and homes.


  • Red-tailed Boa, Boa constrictor
    • Amaral's Boa, Boa constrictor amarali (Stull, 1932)
      Common Red-tailed Boa, Boa constrictor constrictor (Linnaeus, 1758)
      Common Northern Boa, Boa constrictor imperator (Daudin, 1803)
      Tumbes Peru Boa, Boa constrictor longicauda (Price&Russo, 1991)
      Ecuadorian Boa, Boa constrictor melanogaster (Langhammer, 1983)
      Dominican Clouded Boa, Boa constrictor nebulosa (Lazell, 1964)
      Argentine Boa, Boa constrictor occidentalis (Philippi, 1863)
      St. Lucia Boa, Boa constrictor orophias (Linnaeus, 1758)
      Orton's Boa, Boa constrictor ortonii (Cope, 1878)
      Pearl Island Boa, Boa constrictor sabogae (Barbour, 1906)
  • Duméril's Boa, Acrantophis dumerili (Jan in Jan & Sordelli, 1860)
    Madagascar Ground Boa, Acrantophis madagascariensis (Duméril & Bibron, 1844)
    Madagascar Tree Boa, Sanzinia madagascariensis (Duméril & Bibron, 1844)


  • Noonan, B. P., & Chippindale, P. T. (2006). Dispersal and vicariance: The complex evolutionary history of boid snakes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 40, 347-358. DOI:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.03.010

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