The Cuban Boa is one of the larger species of boa. They have relatively poor eyesight and instead, rely on their tongues to smell the air. The flicking tongue picks up minute scent particles in the air, which are taken to the Jacobson's organ, in the roof of the mouth where the smells are decoded.
Cuban Boa are carnivores and eat small mammals including rodents.
They do not inflict fatal wounds to their prey with their teeth. Instead they use them for seizing the prey, before wrapping their body round, two or three times, and squeezing. Each time the prey exhales, the boa will squeeze harder preventing the ribs, diaphragm, lungs and heart from functioning. Their prey eventually suffocates.
The Cuban boa is an endangered, island-dwelling animal found in tropical dry forest and scrub forest. It is the largest snake on the island of Cuba, and can be found in holes and rock piles and on cultivated land.
Living on an island, the Cuban boa is at risk from disturbances (fire, hunting and cyclones for example), which can quickly push the species towards extinction.
Bristol Zoo Gardens has successfully bred Cuban boas for the past 20 years.
On the island of Cuba, boas up to two metres in length frequently enter urban areas. Local people attack and kill boas as they believe they eat chickens and other poultry.
Unlike most snakes, the majority of boas give birth to a small number of live young with the females breeding once a year.
You can find our Cuban boa in the Reptile House, near Twilight World and the Aquarium
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