Charina reinhardtii Schlegel, 1848, originally designated as "Old Calabar, West Africa" and now annotated to "Gold Coast."
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Burrowing python, Calabar ground python; German: Erdpython.
The Calabar boa is a small species that only rarely grows longer than 30 in (80 cm). The head is small and not distinguished from the neck. The body is round, the skin is soft, the scales are smooth, and the tail is blunt. Individuals are dark brown or black with red or orange scales randomly scattered on the body. Hatchlings have white markings on their tails that disappear with age.
The species occurs in west and central Africa from Guinea and Liberia east to Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, and into Zaire.
The Calabar boa is associated with forest, soft soil, and leaf litter. It most often is seen out and moving after rains, both during the day and at night.
Calabar boas form a tight ball with the head in the middle and use the tail as a decoy. The tail of wild adults usually is scarred. So strong is the instinct for this defensive behavior that even captive-hatched and raised animals rarely will uncoil when handled. This species never bites in defense.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
In nature the diet includes rodents and insects. In captivity the species eats rodents at all ages.
The Calabar boa is oviparous; relative to body size, the eggs are immense. The eggs are delicate and thin-shelled. Clutch size ranges from one to 12 eggs; most clutches number two to four eggs.
CONSERVATION STATUS Not known.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
It is reported that this species is feared by some local people, who believe that it has two heads. ♦
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