Red Tail Boa Constrictors in the Wild
Red Tail Boa Constrictors in Brazil
My husband is called the snake man of Northern Brazil. Although not his official title, it is one of the ways he is referred to here in our area. Where we live, many people are afraid of snakes. It is a fear which has passed from family member to family member. Although many have never met anyone bitten by a snake, there are stories told and retold, in which the snake becomes bigger, the fangs longer, and the danger greater.
Now in our neighborhood, if someone has a boa constrictor snake hanging around their house, they will come and get my husband. He has been known to climb trees, and has retrieved an 8' red tail boa.
Although twice weekly trash collection is available in our area, many people still pile their trash in a cleared area and burn it once a week as they have done all their lives. Leaving trash like that attracts rats which attract snakes.
Where Does the Red Tail Boa Live?
In the wild, the boa is from the tropical regions of the Americas. In fact, the area we live in and conditions are perfect for these boa constrictors hence the reason they are widespread throughout the region. We have scrub land on the other side of our wall, and a source of water.
Arboreal, Land, and Water
Many of the articles I have read about red tail boas, continue to talk about these snakes as arboreal. It's true they do spend a good deal of time in the trees, but we have also see them on the lawn, in long grass, under logs, and in the lakes.
Technique for Catching Boa Constrictors
At 67 years old and with one artificial leg, my husband will climb the tree to remove the offending snake. He wiggles the fingers of his left hand near the head of the snake to distract it, and then grabs behind the head with his right hand. Once back on the ground, the neighbors will gladly offer him a sack for him to take it away. The top is secured and once back home, the snake is transferred to a large cloth pillow case. My husband will keep them long enough to calm the animal down, remove any parasitic ticks and sometimes take a photograph before we release it here at our home. They normally head straight for a tree and will stay in the high branches until the evening.
He will keep the snake long enough to calm the animal down, remove any parasitic ticks and sometimes take a photograph before we release it here at our home. They normally head straight for a tree and will stay in the high branches until the evening.
Red Tailed Boas For Sale
Before you buy a red tailed boa, you need to understand that your small snake will eventually become a huge snake, perhaps up to 10' long and may live 20 years. Not only is it a big snake, it's a big commitment.
When you go on vacation, who is going to look after it? Unless you know someone who also loves snakes, you can forget asking family members. They may say yes to a dog, cat, or even a hamster, but to ask them to look after a 10' snake, the answer is likely to be no.
I am not trying to put you off buying a boa constrictor, I am just saying it shouldn't be a snap decision.
The benefit of living where we do, we get to see them and they take care of themselves. They are wild and they will stay wild.
Red Tailed Boa Feeding
Captively bred boas will be fed mice and rats which have been humanely killed. As the snake matures, it can have chicken and rabbit, again, those which have been humanely slaughtered. Meat given to a pet snake should be sourced from a reputable dealer and not from a grocery store, where generally speaking, meat is of poor quality. Although there are videos on YouTube where owners are feeding their snakes live food, some people opt not to do this as it could injure the snake. Obviously in the wild, like we see here, it is part of nature.
What we see red tailed boas eat in the wild.
Snakes are hunters and, in in the scrub land here around our area they will eat rodents, iguanas, birds, and I suspect cats as well. There used to be feral cats but we haven't heard or seen any for a few years now. We also used to have a population of two sizes of opossums which again we haven't noticed any longer. I suspect the numbers of the cats and the opossums are kept in check by the boa constrictors. Although in our area, we don't have rabbits, there is a type of wild guinea pig here called a prea which a boa would quite easily consume. We also have quite a few monkeys here which could easily become a welcome meal. The red-tailed boa hunts both in the trees and on the ground and we have even seen it pull an iguana into the water (Pictures below). Both the iguana and snake are excellent swimmers but with the squeeze being put on the iguana, it didn't stand a chance against the boa.
Wild Boa Constrictor Attacking Iguana
The photos above need a little explaining. The middle of the day is often the best time to see iguanas roaming around our farm, relaxing by the lakes and munching grass and clover. My husband was photographing one of the iguanas near our back lake. He had to return to the house to get another battery for his camera.
When he returned to the lake, I heard him shouting for me to come out to the back.
In the lake was a red tailed boa coiled around the iguana my husband had been photographing a few moments before. Being the photographer that he is, he saw this as an excellent photo opportunity. I had other ideas. We enjoy having iguanas walking around the area, and I told my husband to help that iguana. By this time the boa constrictor's head was over the head of the iguana and if we didn't do something soon, the iguana would have been this snake's lunch. Both the iguana and the red tail boa are comfortable being in the water, but with the squeezing from the snake, I didn't think there would be an escape for the iguana.
Let me say, we normally do not interfere at all with the wildlife here, other than to discourage hawks ripping up bird's nests. This time, I felt we needed to intervene. Using a stick we lifted the snake enough for it to lose its grip on the iguana which swam away rapidly.
After a few moments floating in the lake, we think the iguana was in shock and trying to catch its breath, it climbed out and rested in the grass.
Some of our neighbors keep birds in cages and the boas have been known to go across the rafters to get to these caged birds. They can't get the birds but are attracted to the bird songs and calls. That is normally when we get a call in the form of a shout across the lake or a whistle and a wave. This is then followed with people pointing and saying, “cobra”. The word for snake in Portuguese is cobra.
Would you keep a boa constrictor as a pet?
Snake Handling Skills
You may be wondering where my husband acquired this skill of snake handling. He owned the oldest pet store in London. There they had pythons and other snakes for sale and rehomed snakes when the owners were unable to manage them.
As you can see from the photos, this author chose to be on the other side of the camera. I do not share his love of snakes but will willing snap a photo of him handling one.
© 2017 Mary Wickison