Boa constrictor taxonomy

Scientific Classification

Kingdom:     Animalia

Phylum:       Chordata

subphylum:     Vertebrata

Class:          Reptilia

Order:         Squamata

suborder:        Serpentes

Family:        Boidae

subfamily:       Boinae

Genus:        Boa

Species:      constrictor

subspecies:

  • amarali (Stull, 1932)
  • constrictor (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • imperator (Daudin, 1803)
  • longicauda (Price and Russo, 1991)
  • nebulosus or nebulosa (Lazell, 1964)
  • occidentalis (Philippi, 1873)
  • orophias (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • ortonii (Cope, 1878)
  • sabogae (Barbour, 1906)

There are nine accepted subspecies of Boa constrictor.  They are listed below and divided into the countries/nations that they populate.  Some subspecies include locality boas which inhabit specific regions of their appropriate countries giving them unique traits that enable us to identify them.  Certain Boa constrictor subspecies are native to small islands or keys, and possibly countries, but are not listed below.  These localities are not found in herpetoculture (keeping of live reptiles and amphibians under human care) or have not been legitimately documented.  It is important to note that the bulleted locales may not the only areas where boa constrictors are found but are locales catalogued in herpetoculture.

NOTE: Recent reclassification has elevated the subspecies Boa constrictor imperator to the full species Boa imperator.

Boa constrictor constrictor (Red-tailed Boa)

Brazil

  • Belem
  • North Brazil

Colombia (east of Andes Mountains)

  • Leticia

Ecuador (east of the Andes Mountains)

French Guiana

Guyana

  • Essequibo
  • Wakemon Island

Peru (east of Andes Mountains)

  • Iquitos
  • Pucallpa

Suriname

  • Pokigron

Tobago (not to be confused with Taboga, discussed below)

Trinidad

Venezuela (east of Andes Mountains)

 

Boa constrictor imperator (Common Boa) RECLASSIFIED: Boa imperator

Belize

  • Ambergis Cay
  • Cay Caulker (Caulker Cay)
  • Coco Plum Cay
  • Crawl Cay
  • Wee Wee Cay

Colombia (west of Andes Mountains)

  • Baranquilla
  • Rio Magdalena
  • San Andres

Costa Rica

  • Eastern
  • Western

Ecuador (west)

El Salvador

Guatemala

Honduras

  • Guanaja
  • Hog Island (Cayos Cochinos)
  • Roatan Island
  • Utila

Mexico

  • Cancun
  • Sonoran Desert
  • Tarahumara Mountain
  • Tres Marias Islands
  • Yucatan Peninsula

Nicaragua

  • Corn Island (Isla de Maize)

Panama

Venezuela (northwest)

  • Paraguanera

 

Boa constrictor amarali (Short-tailed Boa)

Bolivia (southeast)

Brazil (south)

  • Sao Paulo

Boa constrictor longicauda (Long-tailed Boa)

Peru (northwest, Tumbes area)

 

Boa constrictor nebulosus (Clouded Boa)

Dominica

 

Boa constrictor occidentalis (Argentine Boa)

Argentina (north)

Bolivia (southeast)

Paraguay (northwest)

 

Boa constrictor orophias (St. Lucian Boa)

St. Lucia

 

Boa constrictor ortonii (Orton's Boa)

Peru (northwestern, west of Andes Mountains)

 

Boa constrictor sabogae (Panamanian Island Boa)

  • Coiba Island
  • Pearl Islands
  • Taboga Island (not to be confused with Tobago, discussed above)
  • Taboguilla

 

The above subspecies and localities are accepted by the majority of the scientific community; there are other Boa constrictor that have been documented, but are not generally accepted.  These include:

  • Boa constrictor diviniloqua
  • Boa constrictor melanogaster
  • Boa constrictor mexicana
  • Boa constrictor sigma

 

Each boa listed has unique characteristics (i.e. phenotypes). Wild-type animals from each country, and sometimes even each locality, can be extremely variable in appearance which can lead to debate over the actual origin of certain boas. Many of these countries border one another and natural intergrades occur. Intergrades result from the breeding of subspecies or localities. Historically, the locality of an animal (or the animals founding its lineage) is based upon paperwork stating the country from which the boas were imported, not collected. For example, if a boa collected in Nicaragua is exported from Honduras, this does not make the snake a Honduran boa despite importation paperwork reflecting such. Sometimes multiple localities are imported in one shipment, but not differentiated as such.  False information can have negative effects in herpetoculture concerning the origins of boas. It is very important to get your boas only from reputable sources if you desire pure bloodlines and/or true locality boas. Many boas available, especially morphs, are crosses between localities or subspecies. It is very important for the future of true locality boas that animals are represented properly and identified accurately.

The boa community has established general guidelines to differentiate boas that originate from neighboring countries The most common example is found in boas from Guyana and Suriname.  These boas are very similar in appearance and the only way to know their origin is to know the exact location they were collected. Even collecting a boa on one side of a political border may not be conclusive as to whether the boa is Suriname or Guyanan. It may have been transported by human or natural means. However, the guidelines help the boa community differentiate subspecies and localities, which allows labels to be as accurate as possible.

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