Looking at this boa, your mood rises, because its refreshing, rich, green color is incredibly invigorating and pleasing to the eye. For many terrarium keepers, a dog-headed boa constrictor is just a godsend, so almost every one of them dreams of having a handsome boa constrictor in their collection. Let’s analyze all the essential aspects of the life of this reptile, starting from external data and ending with the status of its population.
Origin of the species and description
The dog-headed boa is also called the green tree boa. They also include such an epithet as emerald. This reptile is not poisonous and belongs to the family of pseudo-legs, to the genus of narrow-bellied boas. The coloring is dominated by a general, juicy, bright green tone, which makes the boa constrictor attractive and extravagant. In Latin, this boa constrictor is called Corallus caninus. The genus Corallus consists of three species groups that differ from each other according to various criteria. The dog-headed boa is one of these groups.
Video: Dog-headed boa
It was first discovered to the world by the famous Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus, who in the 18th century gave a description of this reptile. Due to the fact that the young of this snake are born coral in color, the species was assigned to the genus Corallus, providing it with the adjective “caninus”, which means “canine” in translation.
It is clear why the boa constrictor is called woody, it leads such a lifestyle, preferring to do almost everything without getting off the branches. It is considered emerald because of its beautiful color. The question arises: “Why is the reptile nicknamed dog-headed?”. The answer is simple – his head is shaped like a dog, especially when you look at it from the side. The long teeth located on the upper jaw are also similar to the fangs of a dog.
An interesting fact: The length of the teeth of a green tree boa can be from 4 to 5 cm, so its bite is very traumatic, although not poisonous.
As for the dimensions of the reptile, they are not as large as its teeth, the average length of the body of a boa constrictor can be from 2 to 2.8 m.
Appearance and Features
The body of the dog-headed boa is quite powerful, slightly flattened on the sides. The head is large with a blunt muzzle and round eyes. The pupils of the reptile are vertical.
An interesting fact: the muscles of the boa constrictor are well developed, because when hunting, he uses an effective chokehold, from the strong embrace of which he cannot escape.
The pseudopods are so named because they have residual forms of hind limbs (rudiments), they are claws protruding from the edges of the anus. This family has rudiments of the pelvic bones and lungs, and the right organ is often longer than the left. The teeth of the boa constrictor are very strong and bent back; they grow on the palate and pterygoid bones. The huge teeth of the mobile upper jaw protrude forward, so they do an excellent job of holding any prey, even pretty covered with feathers.
The coloring of the dog-headed boa is, first of all, an unsurpassed disguise. It is not always a rich light green color, there are instances of deep green, closer to the color of olives or emerald, some, on the contrary, have a lighter tone. The predominant green color is diluted with white blotches located on the dorsal part. In some reptiles, these white spots occupy a sufficient area, in others they are completely absent, there are also specimens with black patches on the back. A rarity is the presence in the color of the mix, consisting of black and white blotches. The belly of a boa constrictor has a dirty whitish color with some yellowness, and maybe light yellow.
Snake cubs are born:
- orange -red;
- deep red;
- reddish brown.
After some time, the babies turn green, becoming a copy of their parents. Male individuals are inferior in size to females, they look a little smaller. Say what you like, but dog-headed boas are extremely handsome, thanks to their exquisite and unusually bright grassy color.
Where does the dog-headed boa live?
A dog-headed boa is a very exotic, having a permanent residence permit on the territory of the South American continent.
It is found in the vastness of:
- French Guiana;
- northeastern Brazil;
The reptile takes a fancy to tropical, low-lying, forest areas with high humidity, where it settles both on the first and second tiers of trees. Boa constrictors and wetlands inhabit. They prefer not to climb to a height of more than 200 meters above sea level, although individual specimens have been found at an altitude of about one kilometer. Green tree boas have spread widely throughout the Canaima National Park, which is located in the southeastern part of Venezuela.
Moisture plays an important role in the life of green reptiles, therefore, for their permanent places of deployment, they often choose the basins of large rivers (for example, the Amazon). But the presence of a reservoir is an optional condition for their existence, it is just a preference. Boas get the moisture they need from precipitation, which in the places of their settlement falls up to 150 cm over a one-year period.
The crowns of trees serve as a home for boas, in which they spend most of their snake life, which is why they are called woody. And the life span measured for boas in the wild has not yet been precisely established, although in captivity it often exceeds the fifteen-year mark.
Now you know where the dog-headed boa lives, let’s see what he eats?
What does a dog-headed boa eat?
The question regarding the diet of dog-headed boas is very controversial. Many sources say that they feed only on birds that fly near reptiles. Herpetologists claim that this has not been scientifically proven, scientists report that often the remains of mammals are found in the stomachs of dead reptiles. There is another point of view regarding the menu of the dog-headed boa, which indicates its diversity, the snake, according to this opinion, preys on various living creatures:
- small monkeys;
- all kinds of rodents;
- feathered (parrots and passerines);
- small pets.
An interesting fact: Boa constrictors hunt from ambush, hiding in the crown of trees, they hang on branches. Once a prey is located, the green will lunge downward to grab it right off the ground. With the help of long teeth, the boa constrictor easily holds the caught victim to the canopy, using its signature choke hold. Sometimes it takes more than one hour to swallow prey.
It has been observed that young snakes live a tier lower than their more mature counterparts, so lizards and frogs often serve as food for them.
Dog-headed boas living in captivity are often naughty, refusing the offered food, so they have to be fed artificially. In a terrarium, greens are transferred to feeding on rodents. A mature individual is treated once every three weeks, and young people eat more often – after 10 or 14 days. The thickness of the rodent carcass offered to the boa constrictor should not be more than the thickest part of the reptile, otherwise the snake will regurgitate an overly large snack. Accustomed to eating rodents, domesticated boas feed on them all their lives.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
The dog-headed boa is the most arboreal of all arborescens. He spends around the clock on the branches, hunting, resting, eating, looking for a sexual partner, multiplying and even giving birth to offspring. The reptile wraps itself around the branch like a green spiral, its head lies along the knot, and half-rings of its body hang from both sides. Almost the whole day the position of the body remains unchanged. The tail of the boa constrictor is very tenacious and strong, so it is not in danger of falling, it can deftly and with lightning speed maneuver in the thick of the crown.
Tree reptiles begin to become active at twilight, and spend the day in a shady crown. Sometimes they descend to the ground, doing this in order to take sunbaths. A snake’s potential prey is detected due to its sharp vision and temperature-sensitive receptor pits located above the upper lip. Reptiles use their forked tongue as a scanner, checking the space around. Boa constrictors use all these devices, because. weakly pick up sounds, having no auditory openings on the outside and having an underdeveloped middle ear, however, this is typical of all snakes.
The boa constrictor from the terrarium is also located on specially equipped branches and begins to eat when it gets dark. The process of molting in emerald occurs annually two or three times. The very first time little boas molt just a week after birth.
If we talk about the nature of this reptile, then it is not as attractive as its appearance. It has been noticed that reptiles living in a terrarium have a rather nasty character, they are picky and very selective in food, and they can bite so hard with their long teeth that sometimes they even affect nerves. The attack occurs at lightning speed and is repeated more than once. So, for inexperienced naturalists, it’s better not to pick up a doghead, because you need to know how to hold it correctly.
Social Structure and Reproduction
Female dog-headed boas do not lay and incubate eggs, because they are ovoviviparous. Males become sexually mature closer to three or four years of their lives, and females a little later – to four or five. The wedding snake season begins in December, and it continues until March.
All mating games, dates and copulations take place right in the crown of trees. During this period, the boas are not up to food, the gentlemen curl around the lady of the heart, trying to position her exactly in their direction. Often there are duels between them, in which the victorious groom is revealed, and he gets the heart of the young lady. the strongest rival, who will excite the lady of the heart by rubbing against her torso and lightly scratching with the help of her back claws (rudiments).
The female, who is in position, does not eat anything until the very birth of the offspring. She can only have a snack in the first two weeks from the moment of conception. The embryos develop in utero, nourished by egg yolks. They leave the eggs when they are still inside the mother’s body, and at the time of birth they are covered with a thin film, which is almost instantly torn. Newborn snakes with the yolk sac are connected by an umbilical cord, which breaks on the second – fifth day after birth.
The period of bearing cubs lasts from 240 to 260 days. From 5 to 20 kites are born in one female individual (usually there are no more than 12). The weight of the babies is from 20 to 50 grams, and their length can reach up to half a meter. After the babies are born, the mother immediately leaves them, not caring about the babies at all. The very first days, baby serpents are very vulnerable and can become easy prey for any predatory animals, so not everyone can survive.
As already noted, in most babies the color is dominated by reddish or red-brown, but there are also brighter specimens – lemon yellow and fawn, painted with bright white spots on the dorsal part. Growing up, babies change their colors, becoming green, like their parents.
Terrariumists begin mating tree boas as early as two years of age, but their offspring are often weakened. Stronger and healthier cubs are born from older boas. For active reproduction, the night temperature in terrariums drops to 22 degrees with a plus sign. In addition, before this process, the female is often kept separately from the male. This is a troublesome and difficult business, so you need to have experience and skill.
Natural enemies of dog-headed boas
The dog-headed boa constrictor does not have too large dimensions, like its other relatives-boas, and poisonousness, but its teeth are very impressive, and the muscles of the body are extremely strong, so it can bite its opponent robustly, and it is not possible to get out of the suffocating embrace of a reptile. Life under the canopy of branches and green foliage helps the boa constrictor to remain unnoticed, because its beautiful color is, first of all, an excellent disguise that helps both when hunting and in order to hide from the enemy.
Despite all the above protective functions of a tree reptile, enemies in natural, natural conditions are enough for him. A variety of animals can defeat a mature dog-headed boa.
Among them are:
- large feathered predators;
- wild boars;
Most ill-wishers have newly born snakes, because the mother leaves them immediately after they were born. Slightly grown young animals are also very vulnerable, because. does not have the proper experience and has not reached the desired size. Young snakes often become victims of coyotes, kites, monitor lizards, jackals, common hedgehogs, mongooses, and ravens. So, it is not easy for dog-headed boas to survive in harsh natural conditions, especially for those who are still very young and have not gained snake life experience.
Species population and status
In 2019, the International Union for Conservation of Nature decided to classify the green tree boa as an animal species that is under the least threat. Furious conservationists did not see any obvious threats to the dog-headed boa in almost the entire range of its distribution, and no threats to the habitat were also identified.
There is one factor that alarms conservation organizations – this is the illegal capture of the purpose of their further resale, because avid terrariumists are ready to pay fabulous sums for such charming exotic pets. Even the indigenous people, meeting with emerald boas, often kill them.
Now the capture of reptiles for trade is strictly regulated, according to the international Convention on trade. On the territory of many states, quotas have been introduced for the export of these reptiles. For example, in Suriname, no more than 900 copies per year are allowed to be exported (this is data for 2015). Still, on the territory of Suriname, these protective measures are poorly observed, because. boas are exported from the country much more than the prescribed norm, which negatively affects the population of these prolegs, but only at the level of this particular region, this is not yet reflected in the total number of all dog-headed boas.
Scientists have monitored the territories of the Brazilian Guiana and Suriname, according to its results, it turned out that green boas are rare or very skillfully camouflaged, so it is very difficult to calculate the number of reptiles in a global plan. Nevertheless, at the moment, dog-headed boas are not threatened with extinction, their numbers are not subject to a sharp decline, it remains stable, which cannot but rejoice.
Summing up, I would like to add that the dog-headed boa is a real handsome man, looking at which, you can not remain indifferent. His bright emerald robe looks rich and extravagant, charging with invigorating energy and positive. Despite all the advantages, this fashionista is very picky and capricious, but experienced breeders do not pay attention to this, considering this magnificent green boa constrictor a real dream and an emerald of their snake collections!