Photo by Andy Smyth, Photographer. ©
South & Central America
the past two decades, Glasgow Zoopark has maintained several sub-species
of the Boa Constrictor - Boa constrictor . Currently we
have three large specimens of the Common Boa, one of whom produced
44 babies in one night during June 1998.
The other sub-species we maintain is the so called Hog Island
Boa , from Honduras, perhaps more accurately referred to as
the Clouded Boa , Boa constrictor nebulosa . We
acquired our original animals in 1982-1983 from a London reptile
dealer, and occasionally from H.M. Customs seizures of illegal imports
at Heathrow airport.
bred 7 young in 1985 and believed this to be the first breeding
in the UK. We have bred them several times since then. Private collections
have bred them up and down the country since then too, but no other
zoos, so far as we can ascertain, have done so in the UK.
the time of acquisition they were quite small, just over 0.5 metres
in length, though they soon grew, on a diet of mice and dead day-old
chicks, to their adult size of 1 - 1.2 metres.
are distributed widely in Central and South America, and due to
geographical isolation there are many sub-species. At the time we
acquired our specimens we were told that they were found on a large
offshore island where they fed primarily in the passing bird spring
and autumn migration season, swimming from island to island in search
of newly landed birds in the mangrove swamps. As the migration season
in central South America can be as long as 3 months in each direction,
with perhaps millions of small birds touching down in ones, twos
and small groups, constantly during that period, perhaps indicates
that this is not the great hardship it might at first sight appear.
The pale, smudged markings could perhaps be explained by the bright,
sunlit sands, and dappled leaves of the mangroves against the blue
sky. Their slender bodies would also tend to suggest a more arboreal
habitat than the ground dwelling, dry leaf habitat of the large,
heavy, brightly, but cryptically patterned Common Boa.
we retained the original adults, most of the young have been exchanged
through dealers for even more valuable pythons and boas, and we
were pleased with the exchange value of the Hog Island Boas
. We were less than pleased with the ludicrously low value
placed on our Common Boa babies. Although understanding
why dealers have to do this, we feel that with such a demand for
these animals, which retail at what we think, are quite high prices,
they could be more accommodating for captive bred specimens. Especially,
as no money changes hands in these exchanges.
few years ago in another Customs seizure, we ended up with some
Black-bellied Boas , Boa constrictor melanogaster
. These were extremely aggressive, wild-caught snakes, and we never
really succeeded in calming them down much.