A juvenile boa constrictor found on the ground in an area heavily visited by jungle mice.
The jungle environment is a smorgasbord of food for boa constrictors. They kill by constriction which is really just giving an animal a big hug. Boas eat large mammals such as ocelots, deer, coati and small mammals such as bats, rats and rabbits. The boa is just as comfortable in a tree as it is on the ground, therefore birds and lizards are also part of its diet.
The area around a boas mouth is the most sensitive part of its body. The lip scales have extremely sensitive nerve endings located there. From these the snakes can sense temperature changes which aid it in hunting mammals. The boa also has heat sensitive organs which alert it to approaching food.
Female boa’s give birth to live young March through August and can have up to 60+ snakelets. The light purple coloring of this one tells us that it is a juvenile. The skin is iridescent. These snakes are generally active during the night. Some move and hunt during the day but their camouflage only serves them when sitting still among the leaves. They ambush their prey by waiting outside of a hole or den for sometimes as long as two days before they will strike.
Boa constrictors are the largest and heaviest snakes in Costa Rica and even though boas can reach an enormous size in captivity they are very rarely found in nature. Boas are predators as well as prey. Other large snakes will eat smaller boas and birds of prey often find boas a tasty meal. Boas are often in areas with other predators and are docile with very few displaying a threatening display. One book we have states that to see a very big boa constrictor in a natural environment should be considered as exciting as seeing a harpy eagle or jaguar because they are rare.
We found this snake in an old wood pile. We knew it had eaten recently due to the feces left behind in the holding bucket. Look at the size of the feces and compare it with the size of the snake. It’s much larger than I would have thought. It also shed its skin during its four day stay with us.