Cuban Boa

 

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Cuban Boa

Range: Cuba

Habitat: Largest snake on the island of Cuba. The Cuban boa has as a tendency to be arboreal but can be found living in the tall grasses of open lands. 

Natural Diet: Small mammals, birds and bats.  This snake has developed a strong ability to hunt bats as they exit the mouth of caves in the early evening hours.   This indicates the ability to remember as well as a strong sense of the time of day. 

Diet at RainForest: Chicken and pre-killed rodents.

Size: Up to 12 feet in length.  More heavy bodied than most arboreal boas.

Keeper Notes: The longest of all arboreal Boas, the Cuban Boa has extremely well developed heat sensing pits located on the lower jaw.  The Cuban Boa gives birth to live babies, typically a small litter, the average number born to a female boa is 4-6 young.  The babies are remarkably well developed and may be as much as 20" long at birth.  Feisty little nippers the babies soon settle down and allow the keepers to maintain their exhibit without too much fuss.  4 babies were born at RainForest Adventures on 11/5/05. 

All Pythons are constrictors.  Snakes that hunt using constriction as a means of subduing prey will very quickly grab their prey with their teeth using a very fast strike. The constrictor will quickly wrap coils of their bodies around the prey and squeeze or constrict the prey item. 

This process does not actually crush the prey and break its bones as is widely reported in the media.  Instead, they squeeze tightly so that the prey animal canít breath and it suffocates, this process usually requires about 3-4 minutes for the prey animal to be killed.

Once the snake is certain the prey item is dead they then begin to search for the animals head, virtually all prey animals are consumed head first.  This process allows the snake to literally "fold" the arms and legs of the prey animal back as the creature is swallowed.  Contrary to popular belief a snake does not "unhinge" it's jaws, the jaws in fact are not actually attached in a mechanical way.  Long tendons and muscles connect the upper and lower jaws.  The lower jaw is actually made up of two separate bones to further enhance the animals ability to manipulate large prey items.

Once the snake has the animal past it's jaws a series rhythmic muscular contractions then pull the prey down the snakeís throat and into its stomach.   A very large prey item can be observed in the snakes stomach as a large bulge.  Contrary to popular belief the large prey item is not digested by slowing moving down the length of the snake.  Once the prey animal reaches the stomach, usually about 20 minutes for a very large item, the food item is stationary in the snakes stomach as it is gradually digested.   

The size of the meal can have an impact on the duration of the digestion, but external factors such as ambient air temperature play a larger roll.  The snake must be careful not to eat when temperatures are too cool, the meal will quite literally decompose faster than the snake can digest it, causing a gaseous bloating in the snake that can result in death.  Ideal air temperatures allow the snake to digest the meal prior to the food item decomposing!  Snakes often will regurgitate a meal when the conditions do not allow it to properly digest the meal, this can include both temperatures that are too high and too low!

 

 

Status in Wild: Extremely vulnerable, as with many insular species limited geographical range coupled with the normal pressures of deforestation place the animal in extreme risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RainForest Adventures zoo, Smoky Mountains, Tennessee near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge TN