Viper boa

Candoia aspera

SUBFAMILY

Boinae

TAXONOMY

Candoia aspera Günther, 1877, Duke of York Island, Bismarck Archipelago.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: New Guinea ground boa, Papuan ground boa; French: Boa nain; German: Pazifik Boa.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

This is a short, heavy-bodied boa with a very short tail. The head is triangular and distinct from the neck. All of the dorsal scales are keeled with a prominent, raised, longitudinal ridge that runs down the center of each scale. The maximum length of this species approaches 3 ft (1 m), but most adults are only about half that size.

DISTRIBUTION

The species inhabits New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago.

HABITAT

Viper boas have been encountered in coconut husk piles, on the coast under driftwood, in trees, and in leaf litter on forest floors. They often are found in swampy areas and mudflats.

BEHAVIOR

This snake is nocturnal and secretive and is rarely encountered during the day except after rain. It is known to coil in a ball for defense. It also can deliver a painful bite. It is believed that this snake mimics the death adder, Acanthophis sp., in areas where the two are sympatric.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Viper boas commonly feed on frogs and lizards. Small mammals also are taken.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Little is known about reproduction in nature. Captured gravid females have delivered litters of five to 15 babies.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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