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Publication #WEC297

Florida Invader: Common Boa1

Steve Johnson and Monica McGarrity2

Figure 1. 

Common or red-tailed boa (boa constrictor)


Credit:

Steve Johnson, Wikimedia Project, 2010


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Report Common Boa sightings immediately:

1-888-IveGot1 (1-888-483-4681; live animals only)

www.ivegot1.org (provide photos if possible)

The common or red-tailed boa (boa constrictor), native to Central and South America, has been introduced and become established in a very small area of Florida in Miami. Escaped or released pets are also occasionally encountered in other areas in Florida. This is a large, nocturnal predator that may exceed 10 feet in length and kills its prey by constriction. In Florida, Common Boas are believed to prey on native and introduced amphibians, reptiles, birds, and small mammals (including bats). In their native range, common boas inhabit a wide variety of terrestrial habitats but are also more arboreal (i.e., climbing, tree-dwelling) than the other large constrictors established in Florida. Females can breed at three years of age and give birth to 20–50 live young. Lifespan is approximately 10 years.

Figure 2. 

The common boa's head is tan with a dark center line, and each side of the head is marked with a broad, dark facial band.


Credit:

Photo by Mike Pingleton, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Illustration by United States Geological Survey, 2009


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Figure 3. 

The common boa's body is marked down the back and sides with tan ovals. Toward the tail, the saddle-like ovals become narrow bands separated by reddish saddles. For obvious reasons, the common boa is sometimes also known as the red-tailed boa.


Credit:

Photo from the Wikimedia Project; Illustration by Monica E. McGarrity, University of Florida, 2010


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Figure 4. 

The reticulated python looks very similar to the common boa but has reddish eyes and very thin eye stripes.


Credit:

Patrick Lynch, SFWMD, 2009


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Acknowledgments

This project was made possible in part by a grant from the South Florida National Parks Trust and the Ferris Greeney Family Foundation, and by the USDA-RREA. This document was created as additional reference material for the Introduced Reptile Early Detection and Documentation training program, also known as REDDy. For more information, visit http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/reddy.shtml.

Footnotes

1.

This document is WEC297, one of a series of the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date February 2011. Revised February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Steve A. Johnson, associate professor and Extension specialist, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611; and Monica McGarrity, extension program assistant, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.