Colombian Rainbow Boa

Colombian Rainbow Boa

12/04/2021 Off By Andy Ptyushkin

Epicrates maurus is a species of non-venomous constrictor in the family Boinae, commonly found in the Amazon region of South America. The common name is Colombian rainbow boa. While a terrestrial species, with its moderate size and weight it has a semi-arboreal life. Rainbow boas are known for their attractive iridescent sheen on their scales in the sunlight.

Size and weight – The Colombian Rainbow Boa is the smallest of the rainbow boas, reaching lengths of 3 to 5 feet on average. There is a clear sexual dimorphism between male and female, with females being significantly larger in both length and girth. Colouring – Generally uniform brown in colour with large dark-edged vertebral rings and light centres forming saddles, there may also be a slightly off-centre ‘S’ pattern. Through a process called metachrosis, rainbow boas exhibit a day-to-night colour change. Primarily noticed in that their pattern will become lighter – almost silver – and have a moulted silversides and bottom. Although individuals of abnormal colours and patterns exist – for example those that exhibit pigmentation disorders such as albinism, they are very rare in the wild and are often found in captivity where these mutations are often bred.

Amazon region of South America

Amazon region of South America

This sub-species, being the northernmost Rainbow Boa, is found in rainforests and drier coastal clearings in its range; southern Central America, Trinidad & Tobago and northern South America. More semi-arboreal when young, rainbow boas may climb into trees and shrubs to forage and avoid land predators, however, they become mostly terrestrial with age.

Rainbow Boas, like all boas in the family Boidae, are non-venomous snakes that subdue their prey with constriction. Like most Boids, they have special heat-sensing pits on their faces that allow them to detect the body heat of their warm-blooded prey. While nocturnal, they may bask during the day when nighttime temperatures are low. They are active at dawn and dusk and feed on small mammals, birds and lizards using their heat-sensing abilities to hunt in the low light.

Rainbow Boas are solitary, associating only to mate. Boas are polygynous and ovoviviparous, thus males may mate with multiple females and give birth to live young. Females invest considerable maternal energy in their offspring since their young develop within the mother’s body. The young are able to develop in a thermo-regulated, protected environment and they are provided with nutrients. Young are born fully developed and independent within minutes of birth.

This species does very well in captivity and is considered by many to be the easiest of all the Epicrates sp., to maintain, requiring slightly less humidity than the Brazilian variant. They primarily feed on mice and rats. Commonly categorized as an «Intermediate» species to keep by reptile distributors and breeders in the pet trade, they become quite tame with regular handling.