Brazilian Rainbow Boa

Brazilian Rainbow Boa



COMMON NAME: Brazilian rainbow boa, rainbow boa, slender boa
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Reptilia
ORDER: Squamata
FAMILY: Boidae
GENUS SPECIES: Epicrates (possession - in reference to constriction) cenchria (bead-like scales)


DESCRIPTION: Compared to other snakes, the Brazilian rainbow boa is a medium-sized snake. Its color ranges from red to orange to mahogany brown with a dark ring pattern down the dorsal (back) surface and dark spots along the sides. Its scales are iridescent, especially after shedding.
SIZE: Approximately 1.5-2.1 m (5-7 ft)
WEIGHT: No data
DIET: Feeds on a variety of warm-blooded vertebrates
INCUBATION: 8-12 weeks

Females are ovoviviparous - the young develop in eggs that the female retains inside her body.
CLUTCH SIZE 2-35 live young; 37.5-50 cm (15-20 in) long
LIFE SPAN: Up to 20 years
RANGE: Central and South America; Southern Venezuela, Guyana, and Surinam south through Amazon Basin
HABITAT: Found in rivers and drainage areas
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Appendix II
USFWS Not listed


1. Like all snakes, boas are excellent swimmers, but they usually avoid going into the water as much as possible.
2. Boas are considered primitive snakes, differing from other species by having two vestigial, or remnant, hind limbs. These vestigial limbs appear as spurs on either side of the cloaca.
3. Boas have special pits on their face that allow them to detect heat. This is very important because these snakes are nocturnal hunters that use this ability to find warm-blooded prey at night.


Rainbow boas are one of the most sought after exotic snake for the pet trade because of their iridescent skin. Over collection and rainforest destruction for agriculture, ranching, and development has significantly decreased their populations.

Boas are very important in controlling rodent populations, which, when in excess, can have a serious deleterious effect on the environment.


Bauchot, Roland (ed.). Snakes a Natural History. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 1994.

Ernst, Carl H., and Zug, George R. Snakes in Question. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996.

Mattison, Chris. Snakes of the World. New York: Facts on File Publications, Inc., 1986.

Mehrtens, John M. Living Snakes of the World. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 1987.

Stafford, Peter J. Pythons and Boas. New Jersey: T.F.H. Publications, Inc., 1986.