by ACES / American Crocodile Education Sanctuary
This week we had the misfortune of seeing and hearing about some maltreatment and killing of a harmless kind of snake, the boa constrictor. We want to use this opportunity to help inform those who may not know how to identify boas and educate those who generally fear snakes due to a lack of knowledge or misunderstanding of the animal.
Boa constrictors are a commonly seen snake in Belize, and while their large size can incite fear, they pose no threat to people.
Boa constrictors are one of the 56 non-venomous species of snake found in Belize. In the unlikely event that you are bitten, while painful, there is little to no chance of the bite being deadly.
Boas hunt small prey like mice, rats, iguanas and birds, while larger individuals target larger prey like raccoons and maybe even small crocodiles! But they pose no threat to people as even the largest boa constrictors in Belize would find it impossible to eat someone, and snakes only attack for food or out of defense.
These, like all snakes, have a built in “fight or flight” response. When threatened by predators, they would rather flee the scene than waste energy on a fight that doesn’t result in food. However, when harassed, cornered, or surrounded, the snake is left with no other option than to try and scare the threat by hissing loudly and striking. If left alone, they will leave to a safer spot once they feel the threat has diminished.
Boa constrictors are semi-arboreal snakes. This means they spend their time both on the ground, and elevated in trees. Their camouflage can make them particularly difficulty to spot as they blend in with the tree branches and leaves, and on the ground they tend to hide under piles of leaves, in tall grass, or buried under hides such as logs and other debris.
If you happened to stumble across one, just back away from the snake, keep pets away, and give the snake a wide berth so he doesn’t feel threatened.
If a snake is in a situation where you are concerned or he absolutely needs relocating. Please don’t hurt it, they’re people all over this country who will respond to such a call and make sure the animal is removed safely and as stress free as possible.
We hope this story helps you to recognize a boa constrictor in the future. We hope that this education helps people who may fear them become more knowledgable, lessening their fear, and making them more confident in finding a safer solution than hurting or killing it. If in doubt, you can always contact us (preferably BEFORE any intervention), send us a photo, or ask us a question on the best solution. We personally LOVE having snakes around, as they play a wonderful role in keeping the 'pest' population down. Wouldn't you welcome that too?
There are some beauties at Marco Gonzalez site. When we cleared so much bush, they sorta dissapeared. But still spotted a boa once in a while. Think the biggest was 6-7 ft. Janet Brown