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Madagascar Ground Boa

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Is the Madagascar Ground Boa right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Malagasy Ground Boa

Scientific name: Acrantophis madagascariensis

The basics:
The Madagascar Ground Boa is in the unique position of being common in captivity but rare in the wild. It is found only in limited areas of central and northern Madagascar, where it inhabits arid, sparsely-wooded scrub and open forests. This species is believed related to the Common Boa Constrictor of the Americas, and shares a somewhat similar lifestyle. Although long-protected, the Madagascar Ground Boa is threatened by deforestation and other forms of habitat loss. A slightly smaller relative, the Dumeril’s Ground Boa (Acrantophis dumerili), occupies Madagascar’s southern rainforests and the Mascarene Islands. It is also popular in the pet trade.

Appearance / health:
The Madagascar Ground Boa is heavily-built and averages 7-8 feet in length, with some individuals exceeding 10 feet. The reddish-brown and gray background coloration is nicely set off by black blotches of varying shapes. Although eye-catching in a bare terrarium, this color-scheme renders the Madagascar Ground Boa nearly invisible against the dead leaves that carpet its natural habitat.

Behavior / temperament:
Although often calm in demeanor, these large, powerful constrictors must be handled with care. Two experienced people should always be on hand when snakes of 6 feet or more in length are fed or handled. Individual dispositions vary, and hungry individuals may strike at nearby movements.

Housing:
Madagascar Ground Boas are relatively inactive and do well in modestly-sized enclosures. Youngsters may be accommodated in terrariums of a length equal to their own, but adults require custom-built cages measuring at least 6 x 4 feet. Newspapers, cypress mulch, eucalyptus bark and similar materials may be used as substrates. A dry cave or hollow log serves well as a shelter. The enclosure’s screen lid must be secured by cage clips. Ambient temperature: 78-82 F; basking temperature: 88 F.

Due to their large size, adult Madagascar Ground Boas produce copious amounts of fecal material which must be removed regularly. The enclosure should be misted daily and thoroughly cleaned each 2-4 weeks.

Diet:
Wild Madagascar Ground Boas feed upon rodents, ground-dwelling lemurs, and birds, which are killed by constriction. Pets do well on a diet comprised of mice and rats.

Breeding:
A winter cooling period of 60-65 F, with a basking spot of 80 F, will stimulate breeding. The young are born alive, after a rather long gestation period of 4-6 months. Females produce smaller litters than similarly-sized relatives, with 4-6 youngsters being typical. Newborn Madagascar Ground Boas are quite large (18-24 inches) and can take adult mice as their first meal.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

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