Skip to main content

Boa, Puerto Rican

Boa, Puerto Rican

Epicrates inornatus

phylum: Chordata

class: Reptilia

order: Serpentes

family: Boidae

status: Lower risk, near threatened, IUCN Endangered, ESA

range: Puerto Rico

Description and biology

The Puerto Rican boa is usually dark or mahogany brown in color. The dorsal section or back of this snake has a series of narrow angular blotches with dark brown or black edges. Many larger, older Puerto Rican boas have virtually no patterns. The venter, or belly, is dark brown to gray in color with dark brown marks. The inside of the snake's mouth is black. Most adult Puerto Rican boas measure 5 to 6.5 feet (1.5 to 2 meters) long and weigh 4.4 to 6.6 pounds (2 to 3 kilograms). Large boas may reach a length of over 8 feet (2.4 meters).

The Puerto Rican boa is nocturnal (active at night). It may be found both on the ground and in trees. It hunts a variety of small prey, including bats, rodents, and small birds. The

boa captures its prey by biting it and wrapping its body around it at the same time. The prey eventually suffocates because it is unable to expand its rib cage. The boa then swallows the prey whole, as other snakes do.

Mating takes place between April and May. Although a male Puerto Rican boa will attempt to mate with a female every year, she will give birth only every other year, usually to 10 to 32 young between August and October.

Habitat and current distribution

This snake is widespread in Puerto Rico, except in the arid (dry) southwest portion of the island. It is most abundant in the Caribbean National Forest. Although the boa prefers to inhabit rain forests and plantations, it has also been found in subtropical dry forests and even urban areas.

History and conservation measures

The Puerto Rican boa was placed on the Endangered Species List in 1970, making it one of the first species protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The boa's population initially declined because large tracts of forest on Puerto Rico were cleared to create farmland. Recently, however, many people living in rural areas have moved to the island's cities, and their farms have grown into forests once again. Because of this, the boa made a dramatic recovery during the 1990s, but has remained in endangered status.

The boa receives further protection on the island under the Regulation to Govern the Management of Threatened and Endangered Species in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Despite this legal proclamation, the boa is still threatened by some rural Puerto Ricans, who believe the fat of the Puerto Rican boa can be used as a medicine. As a result, they kill the snake to extract its fat.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Boa, Puerto Rican." Endangered Species. . 24 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Boa, Puerto Rican." Endangered Species. . (April 24, 2019).

"Boa, Puerto Rican." Endangered Species. . Retrieved April 24, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.