Cuban boa

Epicrates angulifer

SUBFAMILY

Boinae

TAXONOMY

Epicrates angulifer Bibron, 1840, Cuba. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Boa de Cuba; German: Kuba-Schlankboa; Spanish: Majá de Santa Maria.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

This is the largest species in the genus Epicrates, with a maximum size approaching 13 ft (4 m).

DISTRIBUTION

E. angulifer is found throughout Cuba at altitudes up to 1,000 ft (310 m); the species also occurs on nearby smaller islands.

HABITAT

This is an adaptable snake most often found in wooded areas, often off the ground in trees but also on rocky hillsides, in caves, and in talus.

BEHAVIOR

Captive juvenile Cuban boas tend to be excitable and irritable, often biting their keepers when given the chance; adults tend to be calm and placid animals that do well in captivity. Like most boas in the genus Epicrates, the Cuban boa often excretes viscous liquid uric acid (white insoluble nitrogenous waste products) when excited or frightened.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Cuban boas are both ambush predators and active foragers. They are known to eat bats, rodents, chickens, native birds, and iguanas.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Males fight during the breeding season. Females deliver litters of two to 10 large babies that are up to 24 in (61 cm) in length.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Cuban boas are protected by Cuban law, and are believed to be common throughout Cuba. The species seems to coexist well with humans when it is not persecuted.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

This species occasionally preys on domestic fowl. ♦

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