The Guyana boa constrictor (Boa constrictor constrictor) goes by other names, including the red-tailed, the Columbian red-tailed and the South American boa. As their name suggests, these snakes occur in the Amazon Basin countries of Guyana, Peru, Brazil and Surinam. Giants among boas, red-tails are second only to anacondas in size.
Fat Bottom Girls
Some mature female Guyana boas can grow to 13 feet and weigh 60 pounds or more, although the average size is more typically between 8 to 10 feet. The longest boa recorded was 18 feet long but may have been an anaconda. Male Guyana boas are 1 to 2 feet shorter than females and not as bulky. Newborns are about 22 inches long and may reach 4 to 5 feet by their first birthday. Growth rate slows after the second year. Guyana boas continue growing for life, which can be 25 to 30 years.
Playing With the Big Kids
Guyana boas are large, agile and very powerful constrictors. Don’t handle an animal over 6 feet long by yourself, no matter how big and strong you are. Never approach a boa’s enclosure smelling like dinner -- wash your hands and arms thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling snake food. Use tongs to distance yourself from this animal’s business end when feeding. Don’t handle the boa for 48 hours after feeding to allow for proper digestion.
The Small Print
Many states, counties, cities and municipalities prohibit certain exotic animals, so check before selecting a Guyana boa as a pet.
- Long Island Herpetological Society: Boa Constrictors Care & Maintenance
- National Geographic: Boa Constrictor
- Vida Preciosa International, Inc.: Common Boa Constrictors, Information and Care
- Rain Forest Adventures Zoo: Boa Constrictor
- Big Apple Herp: Care Sheet for Columbian Red-Tail Boas
- Smithsonian National Zoological Park: Fact Sheets -- Boa Constrictor
- Mathews Reptiles: Boa Care
- Reptile & Exotics Protection Society: Common Boa Constrictor
- NA/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images