EarthwatchEndangered Ecosystems HomeScholastic Explorers

Brazilian River Otters
Costa Rican Caterpillars

This is a photo of the found boa constrictor.
Scientist Finds a Boa Constrictor
by Dr. Alberto González Romero

Most boa constrictors are tame animals if you treat them with care and respect. I found this boa in the middle of the road, while driving to Chamela from Manzanillo. It was really tame.

To catch the boa, I carefully put my foot over its neck. Then I grabbed it with my hand. I traveled with the snake on my side all the way to the field station. The animal never tried to bite me, and as you can see, my new friend behaved very well with the Earthwatch team!

The boa is a male and he's about one meter long. Boas can grow to as big as four meters. It is the biggest snake in Mexico. The biggest we've found at Chamela was 1.6 meters.

Boas are common around Chamela and other parts of Mexico, especially in the tropical dry forest and semideciduous tropical forest. They eat a lot of prey animals, from mice and rabbits to birds and reptiles (lizards and iguanas). At Chamela we know the boas eat a lot of rodents and black iguanas. In other places, we have found that they eat even young, small animals like coatis, opossum, foxes, and monkeys. But, they have a special taste for iguanas.

After the snakes grow larger than 1.5 meters, they do not have enemies other than big cats and eagles. When they are smaller, they are eaten by birds of prey, coatis, small cats, and even other snakes like the indigo — another very big snake.

In Mexico, some people catch boas and put them inside their grain houses in order to protect the grains from rodent attacks. Many farmers take good care of this reptile because they know they eat a lot of pest rodents.

Unfortunately, humans are a big threat to this magnificent animal. Some farmers and people from cities do not respect the snakes and kill many each year. The snakes are hunted for their skin, for food, and for pet trade.

Photo courtesy of Jen Vogel/Earthwatch Institute