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Color ranges from tan to dark brown. Patterning often consists of irregular, diffuse markings along the back, but some snakes are uniformly dark. Underside scales are dark brown with pale edges. Juveniles are reddish brown with prominent markings; females are larger than males. The Puerto Rican boa can be distinguished from its relative, the Mona boa Epicrates monensis of Mona and the Virgin Islands , by its larger size and darker coloration.

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Classification: Reptile Description At seven feet long, Puerto Rican boas—also known as yellow tree boas—are the largest snakes on the island of Puerto Rico. These snakes are not venomous. Instead of using venom to immobilize prey, the boas are constrictors that use their bodies to wrap around prey until it suffocates.

Range Although they can swim and slither over the ground, Puerto Rican boas are primarily arboreal, meaning they frequently spend time in trees. Karst landscapes are dominated by rock that dissolves easily in water, which leads to the formation of caves and sinkholes. The boas are also found in rain forests and even plantations. Mongooses—catlike mammals native to Africa and Asia—frequently make a meal of the boa.

Mongooses were originally brought to Puerto Rico to keep down pest rodent populations, but they ended up attacking a number of beneficial wildlife as well. Diet Puerto Rican boas eat birds , lizards, rodents, and bats.

To capture quick-flying bats, the boas have developed a clever hunting technique. They curl their tail around a tree branch and hang patiently in front of a cave opening. When bats fly out en masse at dusk, the boa has numerous chances to catch a bat right out of the air. Life History Puerto Rican boas mate in springtime at the beginning of the wet season.

They are viviparous, which means the females give birth to live young rather than lay eggs. The lifespan of wild Puerto Rican boas is unknown, but they can live up to 20 years in captivity.

Conservation Puerto Rican boas are federally listed as endangered. Mongoose predation and harvest by humans for folk remedies have probably led to their decline, but they may not be as rare as once thought. Fun Fact The Puerto Rican boa has a place named for it. The Cave of the Boas, which houses several hundred thousand bats, is prime hunting territory for these snakes.

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Puerto Rican boa

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Taxonomy[ edit ] It is extremely similar to the Jamaican species Epicrates subflavus which was seen as the same species for some fifty years until it was split from this species in by Leonhard Hess Stejneger. Reinhardt had three snakes of this species to study for his description, these are the syntypes and are stored in Copenhagen. They were collected by a certain Dr. Ravn from Puerto Rico.

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