The Boa Constrictor Term Paper

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The species of boa is an attractive and fascinating reptile. Due to their great

adaptation abilities they make odd, but awesome pets. They eat rats, chicks, and other small

mammals in captivity. Also successful breeding is possible if the creature is properly cared

for. A unique and interesting animal, the Boidae, thrives in tropical and dry climates adapting

well, eating a variety of prey, but poachers and the destruction of their habitats constantly

threaten their existence.

Sixty-five million years ago dinosaurs roamed the Earth. They ranged from large

carnivorous dangerous beasts to little docile herbivorous animals. From them evolved a

species like none other, a legless reptile, the snake. "There are 2,751 different species of snakes

distributed around the world," (Burton , 210) but in my opinion the boa constrictor is the most

spectacular. There are only a couple of differences between the species of boa and their closest

relative the python. In the boa constrictor a supraorbital bone is found on the roof of its skull

which is absent in the python family. Another difference is that all pythons lay eggs while the

boas have live birth. Boas and pythons both contain a finger like scale on both sides of the

cloaca. This is the only evidence that links all snakes to once having come from a reptile with

limbs. Another coincidence is that the boa and python family have exactly the same number of

bones in the pelvis as in that of a lizard. It is interesting to realize that over many years boas

have evolved from creatures with legs.

Boas are very adaptable creatures that have been found all across the globe. "There is

known to be twenty-two species inhabiting South America, twenty species in Central America,

two in North America, three species exist in Madagascar, and another three are found in Papua

New Guinea."(Schmidt, 175) In tropical forests containing lush vegetation species tend to be

arboreal, tree dwelling, and developed ways to climb and cling on the branches. They scale

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limbless tree trunks by using the "concitina method". In this technique they grab on with the

front part of the body, pull the lower end up, and stretch out with the top half to get another grip,

and so on. Boas in the trees also developed prehensile tails used to wrap around branches, like a

hand to hold on allowing them not to plunge to the forest floor.

In dry deserts, indigenous boas are found to have evolved with stubby heads and tails.

With the heads in this shape boas are inclined to borrow underneath the loose soil or sand to

escape the sun and predators. Some boas have been found in sub-tropical climates such as

Florida or California due to the fact that bananas were exported from South America. Baby boas

cling with their tails in the middle of cluster of bananas and when arrived to the destination

they were shipped to the tiny reptiles slithered away into their new environments. Some farmers

released boa constrictors into their farms or plantations to keep down the number of destructive

rodents. As long as the temperature ranges from 65 to 85 degrees these creatures will do quite

well if food is abundant and predators are scarce.

Boas are unique and fascinating creatures when it comes to feeding. They do not stalk

their prey, yet ambush it when it comes by. When close they use their heat sensored pits to

locate exactly where to strike, and before you can blink the boa has grabbed the victim by its

mouth and coiled it in its scales. When the snake feels that the prey stops breathing, due to the

fact that he just suffocated it, he releases his strenght and begin to look the head of the creature.

When found the awesome reptile opens his mouth, releasing his jaws, and slides with his teeth th

food entirely into it's mouth. When the victim is inside the boa uses his muscles to push the prey

further down his body. When in the stomach area the snake uses digestive fluids then begins

breaking down the creatures body parts. Four to eleven days later, depending on the size of the

food, the snake will push remains of the digested prey through the cloaca.

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Boas eat a variety of food consisting of birds, rodents, bats, iguanas, and other small

creatures they can catch. In captivity however they can be fed with the staple diet of mice or rats.

If the rats are fed well and kept healthy your snakes will live a much longer and healthier life.

Boas breed from February to late April. They copulate up to fifteen times daily for up to

a week within these spring months to make sure each egg gets fertilized. Both the males and the

females contain spurs but the male's are slightly larger. He uses these to stimulate the female

and eventually she raises her tail and they begin to mate.

The gestation period of female boas, depending on the temperature, "ranges from seven

to thirteen months."(Mattison, 136) During this time the female will decrease food intake and

become less active. When the time comes the expecting mother gives birth to about "twenty to

sixty neonates." (Mattison, 137) Each neonate comes out surrounded with a clear membrane. The

new born reptile has to instantly break the sack in order to breath. Neonates are born with the

average length of twenty inches. From the moment of birth they are on their own, free to do

what they please and fend for themselves. If they survive through three years of life they are

now capable of producing their own offspring.

Many people fear boas because of the chance they could contain poison. Also their

triangular shaped head, elliptical eyes, and long front curved teeth can fool many people into

believing they are quite venomous. Even though boas are not poisonous , they can infact leave a

nasty bite, leading to numerous stitches and a permanent scar. The reason a boas bite bleeds a

great deal is because the saliva contains an enzyme that kills the plasma in the blood near the

wound, which stops the clotting of the open injury.

Boas in the wild are more likely to flee than stay and fight. If cornered however boas

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will defend them selves with all their might. It is nearly impossible to avoid a strike by an

enraged boa because of their strong, quick muscles and precise targeting. Most of the boas in

the wild are endangered or threatened mainly because of the destruction of the rain forest. Also

they are restricted from poachers who sell them for money, to produce meat or make leather. If

this act of collecting or destroying in the wild persists than we might loose a very unusual and

beautiful creature that can only coexist with our help and effort.

Boas have an extraordinary, yet adventuresome life. They have lived long before

humans due to their great adaptation abilities, and with our help of preserving their habitat they

should live for further years to come. With their abilities to eat a variety of foods and a variable

amount of sizes, these creatures can range and strive in many different parts of the world. Since

they have numerous neonates it enhances their survival from the poachers and other natural

predators. With our help and mother nature's loving hand these spectacular creatures will last

not only for us but the following generations.

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