Dumerils Boa

 

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Range: Madagascar

Habitat: Forested regions to light farming areas.

Natural Diet: Small mammals & birds.

Diet at RainForest: Pre-killed rodents.

Size: 4-6 feet, females tend to be slightly larger than males.  A terrestrial animal, the Dumerils boa hunts primarily on the ground. The Dumerils boa gives birth to live babies, an average size litter is 4-6 large young.  

This species is also known for being heavy bodied, since it hunts primarily on the ground the heavy weight does not easily permit the snake to climb in the manner a thinner arboreal snake would. 

Rainforest Facts: As is the case with much of the wildlife found on the island nation, Madagascar is home to several species of Boa's that are found no where else on earth.  The Ground Boa is a heavy bodied animal with a very low reproductive rate.  The large nature of the females and low quantity of babies results in very large offspring relative to the size of the female. 

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: As with the majority of Madagascar's wildlife, all of the species of Boas on Madagascar are in ever increasing peril.  Loss of habitat is a major concern for this species, large numbers of this animal are  being bred in captivity for the pet market, virtually ensuring that the animal will never become extinct, wild populations are another matter.

 

This species is not currently on exhibit at RainForest