Boa constrictors, especially red-tailed boas, are common in the pet trade. This medium-sized constrictor can grow to about 11 feet in length and can show considerable color and pattern variation.  There is one reproducing population of boa constrictors in Florida, in eastern Miami-Dade County.

Typical boa constrictors are tan in color with darker brown markings down the back and sides.

Boa Constrictors Head
Boa constrictor
Photo credit Pat Lynch/SFWMD

The following characteristics will help distinguish boa constrictors from other snakes.

  1. Narrow line down center of head (no dark wedge)
  2. Tan ovals down the back separated by dark saddles
  3. Saddles usually have a light spot on each side
  4. Tan ovals turn red near the tail in red-tailed boas

 

 

 

 

 

Boa Constrictors

Boa constrictor
Photo credit Adam Stern

Compare the images above of a boa constrictor to this image of a Burmese python, and note the differences.

Burmese compared to Boa Constrictors
Burmese python
Photo credit Pat Lynch/SFWMD

  1. Boa constrictors have tan ovals separated by darker saddles down the back, but Burmese python have angular tan blotches that resemble a giraffe pattern
  2. Boa constrictors have a thin line down the center back of the head, but Burmese pythons have a dark wedge on the back of the head

 

Other nonnative snakes that have been reported in Florida:

 

Native snakes that Burmese pythons are often misidentified as:

 

Additional resources

Learn more about pythons in Florida



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