NON-VENOMOUS, NON-NATIVE

Other common names

Red-tailed Boa, Common Boa

Basic description

Most adult Boa Bonstrictors are about 10-16 feet (3-5 m) in total length. These are very large, stout-bodied snakes with dark brown hourglass-shaped saddles down the body that become reddish bands towards the tail. The background coloration is usually tan, light brown, grayish brown, or cream colored. The top of the head is tannish with a thin, dark stripe down the middle. There are dark, elongate markings behind the eyes that are often bordered by white below. Juvenile color pattern is similar to that of adults, except the coloration is more vivid.

Boa constrictor crawling through green grass
Boa Bonstrictor. Photo courtesy of Rangel Diaz/iNaturalist.

Range in Florida

Boa Bonstrictors are a non-native species from Latin America that have been established in Florida since perhaps the 1970s. Although they have been introduced to numerous areas in Florida, they are currently known to be established and breeding only in and around the Charles Deering Estate in Miami, Miami-Dade County.

Assessment of risk to people and pets

Non-venomous. Boa Bonstrictors may bite to defend themselves. Small individuals are not generally dangerous to people or pets. However, larger boa constrictors have large, sharp teeth, and their bites can cause severe lacerations. Large animals are also fully capable of eating dogs and cats. Virtually all bites occur when the snakes are intentionally bothered.

Comparison with other species

Burmese Python (Python bivittatus) Non-venomous Burmese Pythons have bold, dark, dorsal blotches separated by thin light-colored bars. The belly is light colored in the center with small dark spots along the sides.

two images side by side - Image 1: Burmese Python - large snake coiled on a tree stump Image 2: Constrictor - Boa constrictor crawling through green grass.
Burmese Python. Photo courtesy of Todd Pierson.
Boa Constrictor. Photo courtesy of Rangel Diaz.

African Rock Python (Python sebae) Non-venomous African Rock Pythons have two mostly continuous and irregular dark blotches down the back that are bordered by black and white.

two images side by side - Image 1: African Rock Pythons - large snake with pattern Image 2: Constrictor - Boa constrictor crawling through green grass.
Boa Constrictor. Photo courtesy of Rangel Diaz.
African Rock Python. Photo courtesy of lucykeith-diagne/iNaturalist

Share your observations

You can help scientists better understand the biology and distribution of this species by sharing your observations. Send photos or videos of interesting observations, along with associated information, by emailing the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum for documentation in the Museum’s Herpetology Master Database. You can also post your observations on iNaturalist.

Additional helpful information

Do you have snakes around your house? Learn how to safely co-exist with snakes.

Still have questions about snakes or identifications? Feel free to email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum with your questions or feedback on this profile.

Banner photo courtesy Rangel Diaz/iNaturalist/CC-BY-NC-4.0 Please credit any photographers on the page and see our copyright policy.