Species group: Boas, Anacondas and Pythons
Other common names: Dominican Red Mountain Boa
Scientific name: Epicrates striatus
The Hispaniolan Boa is an interesting creature, but not a great choice for those new to boa-keeping. Large and active, it often remains high strung in captivity and fares best in well-experienced hands.
The Hispaniolan Boa is one of the more widespread of the West Indian boas. It inhabits Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic), Bahamas, and numerous nearby small islands and cays. Its taxonomy is in flux, with 3-8 subspecies being recognized; the Bahaman population may soon be given species status. The beautifully colored Dominican Red Mountain Boa (C. striatus striatus) is much sought after by hobbyists.
The Hispaniolan Boa is found in mangrove forests, moist and dry scrub forests, rocky hillsides, and overgrown areas near human habitation. Smaller individuals are arboreal, but adults spend time on the ground as well as in trees.
Appearance / health:
Hispaniolan Boas are slender in build and average 5-6 feet in length, with some individuals approaching 8 feet. The body is silver-gray to brown or cream in color, and is marked with brown, gray or black blotches and saddles.
They fare best in humid environments, but the cage must dry out daily, and be supplied with ample air circulation lest skin infections take hold. Pets and zoo specimens have lived in excess of 20 years.
Behavior / temperament:
Hispaniolan Boas have a reputation as being quick to strike, and indeed some specimens remain so even after many years in captivity. Others will tolerate handling, but extreme caution should be exercised. They are not appropriate pets for children or novices.
Hispaniolan Boas are active snakes, and require terrariums or custom-built cages that are at least as long as their body length, and which allow space for climbing as well. The enclosure should be provided with sturdy climbing branches similar to the width of the snake’s body. Hanging live or artificial plants should be positioned over branches to act as sheltering sites for small individuals, which are most comfortable above-ground. Adults will use standard hide boxes. Cypress mulch, eucalyptus bark and similar materials may be used as substrates. Fresh water in a large pan should be available. Ambient temperature: 80-85 F; basking temperature: 90-95 F.
Hispaniolan Boas feed upon rodents, bats, birds, lizards, frogs and domestic chickens and ducks. Pets do well on mice and rats. Youngsters feed primarily on frogs and lizards in the wild, and may refuse mice. Scenting a pink mouse with a frog or anole usually induces feeding.
The young, 7-55 in number, are born alive. Lowering nighttime temperatures to 72 F, reducing day-length, and increasing the humidity will help to induce breeding.
Diet: Hispaniolan Boas feed upon rodents, bats, birds, lizards, frogs and domestic chickens and ducks. Pets do well on mice and rats. Youngsters feed primarily on frogs and lizards in the wild, and may refuse mice. Scenting a pink mouse with a frog or anole usually induces feeding.
Written by Frank Indiviglio