This soft-skinned boa has beautiful, iridescent skin. Tiny ridges on the scales act as prisms to refract light and create a rainbow-colored effect. Brazilian rainbow boas are brown or reddish brown snakes with three parallel black stripes on the top of the head and large black rings down the back that give the appearance of dorsal blotches.
The round lateral blotches are black with an orange or reddish crescent across the top.
There is a great deal of variation in color and marking among this species. Adult males have substantially larger spurs along the side of the vent and have noticeably thicker bases of their tails due to the internal hemipenes, their sexual organs. invaginated hemipenes.
Brazilian rainbow boas are a medium sized, round-bodied terrestrial boa and range from 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) in length. The head is not particularly large, but it is distinctly wider than the neck.
The Brazilian rainbow boa is found in the Amazon River basin, coastal Guyana, French Guiana, Suriname and southern Venezuela. A primarily terrestrial boa, the Brazilian rainbow boa lives in humid woodland forests and can sometimes be found in open savannas.
In the wild, their diet consists of rodents, birds and possibly some forms of aquatic life and lizards. Like other boas, the Brazilian rainbow boa is non-venomous. To capture and consume meals, they ambush and constrict their prey. At the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, they are fed rats.
Reproduction and Development
Sexual maturity in Brazilian rainbow boas is determined by length rather than age. Males may breed at 4 feet (1.2 meters) and females at 4.5 feet (1.4 meters); they usually reach these sizes between 2.5 to 4 years of age. Gestation lasts about five months. A typical litter contains 12 to 25 babies.
Baby Brazilian rainbows live in litters of two to 35. The babies are usually 15 to 20 inches (38 to 50 centimeters) long. Yearlings often grow to 36 to 40 inches (91 to 101 centimeters). Females eat more
- Compared to other snakes, the Brazilian rainbow boa is a medium-sized snake. Its color ranges from red to orange to mahogany brown with a dark ring pattern down the dorsal (back) surface and dark spots along the sides. Its scales are iridescent, especially after shedding.
- Approximately 1.5-2.1 m (5-7 ft)
- No data
- Feeds on a variety of warm-blooded vertebrates
- 8-12 weeks
Females are ovoviviparous – the young develop in eggs that the female retains inside her body.
Clutch Size: 2-35 live young; 37.5-50 cm (15-20 in) long
- Sexual Maturity
- 2-4 years
- Life Span
- Up to 20 years
- Central and South America; Southern Venezuela, Guyana, and Surinam south through Amazon Basin
- Found in rivers and drainage areas
- Global: No data
- IUCN: Not listed
CITES: Appendix II
USFWS: Not listed
Fun Facts about Brazilian Rainbow Boa
- Like all snakes, boas are excellent swimmers, but they usually avoid going into the water as much as possible.
- Boas are considered primitive snakes, differing from other species by having two vestigial, or remnant, hind limbs. These vestigial limbs appear as spurs on either side of the cloaca.
- Boas have special pits on their face that allow them to detect heat. This is very important because these snakes are nocturnal hunters that use this ability to find warm-blooded prey at night.
Ecology and Conservation
Rainbow boas are one of the most sought after exotic snake for the pet trade because of their iridescent skin. Over collection and rainforest destruction for agriculture, ranching, and development has significantly decreased their populations.
Boas are very important in controlling rodent populations, which, when in excess, can have a serious deleterious effect on the environment.