They live in forested areas near rivers, streams, ponds and swamps.
At birth, tree boas are bright red and become green as they mature. Although researchers are not sure why these snakes change colors, a possible theory is that the red color helps camouflage them among the flowers in the treetops.
Unlike most snakes, the tree boa is active at night. It spends a great deal of thime wrapped around tree branches using its prehensile tail to hold on.
Tree boas are constrictors, meaning that they use their teeth to catch their prey and then wrap their bodies around it and squeeze it so that they prey cannnot expand its lungs and suffocates. The snake then unhinges its jaws and swallows the prey head first. To help the constrictor to breathe, it has a special tube in the bottom of its mouth that allows air to travel to its lungs, while ingesting prey.
Though referred to as a tree boa, this snake is more commonly found on the ground. It’s designation as a tree boa perhaps stems from the fact that it is more arboreal than the other boas found on Madagascar.
The offspring of tree boas are a brilliant scarlet color, with darker markings, presumably as a mimicry warning coloration against predators and also as camouflage amongst the brightly colored treetop flowers.
While they provide some protection for the skin, the major role of scales is to prevent water loss – they provide a water-tight covering preventing dehydration for ectothermic animals that depend on basking in the sun for their body heat.
Found only on the island of Madagascar, this snake species is endangered. The expansion of farming and development has greatly reduced the forests where they make their home. In fact, only 15 percent of the forest these snakes live in remain.
|Did YOU Know?|
|The Malagasy word for madagascar tree boa is Mandritra|
|Length:||Up to 6 feet long|
|Wild Diet:||Small mammals, birds, reptiles and frogs|
|CITES Status:||Appendix I|
|Where at the Zoo?||Small Animal Building|