Jamaican Boa

"Feisty Subflavus" by Allison Theus (digital)

 
Subflavus have a place near and dear to my heart. They are wonderful, beautiful, and sometimes rather spirited snakes that are often overlooked because they lack fur.
— Allison Theus

Also known as the Yellow snake.

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Habitat

The Jamaican boa occurs in a variety of forest and woodland habitats, including humid, tropical and mountainous forest, dry limestone scrub-forest, moist woodland, swampland and mangroves. They occur on the mainland in Jamaica, as well as on Goat Island, a small island off the southwest coast.

Map__Jamaican Boa.jpg

Family life

Boa constrictors are typically solitary, unless in mating season. They are mostly nocturnal, although they will come out during the day to sun themselves in cooler temperatures. These snakes, especially young ones, are semi-arboreal. Though they are good swimmers, they prefer to be on dry land or in trees. The Jamaican boa mates between February and April. Females choose a mate by scent, selecting males which produce the most attractive pheromones. The female may mate with several males in a single breeding season, with each mating event lasting up to 24 hours, during which the two snakes’ bodies stay tightly intertwined. After fertilization, the eggs are retained in the body, where they are nourished by yolk reserves for around six to seven months before hatching. The young, which may number between 5 and 44 individuals, are born live, each measuring around 50 centimeters in length.

Lifespan

The average lifespan of the Jamaican Boa is 24 years in the wild, whereas in the captive, they can live more than 30 years.

Hunting Habits/Diet

Adults mainly feed upon rodents, bats and birds, while juveniles usually take lizards and frogs. Active at night, the Jamaican boa looks for prey by detecting chemical signals with its forked tongue as it moves through the trees. Once located, the snake stays motionless until the animal comes within range. It then strikes holding the victim in place with its needle-like teeth, while enveloping it in coils. The boa tightens its grip until eventually asphyxiation occurs, then the animal is swallowed whole. 

Population

The number of Jamaican Boas remaining is unknown. 

Fun Fact

  • This snake is not venomous.

  • It can also grow to around 6 feet long.

Why are They Endangered?

The combined threats of persecution, habitat loss and the introduction of non-native species have had a disastrous effect on the Jamaican boa’s population. The colonization of the island by Europeans led to the introduction of predators such as cats, pigs and dogs, which not only compete for food with the boa, but also prey upon it directly, was a large it’s population to decrease drastically. Along with predation, erroneous local beliefs that the snake is dangerous, as well as negative religious associations, have also led to widespread persecution.

Status

Vulnerable
 

Jamaican boa, Epicrates subflavus, is threatened with extinction