Header Photo Credit: Connor Stone
Scientific Name: Charina Bottae
Common Name: Rubber Boa, Coastal Rubber Boa, Northern Rubber Boa
Geographic Range: Western US and British Columbia Canada
Life Span: 25+ years
Conservation Status: Least concern
Top 10 List:
1. Where Does Their Name Come From?
Rubber boas get their name due to the fact that their skin is often loose and wrinkled. It consists of small scales that are smooth and shiny, which give the snake a rubber-like look and texture.
2. Pink At Birth?
Newborn rubber boas often look pink and slightly translucent at birth, and darken up as they age. Adult Rubber Boas are often tan to dark brown, but some have been found to be olive green, yellow, or even orange.
3. Big Tails
Whereas most snakes have thinner tails, one major defining feature of the rubber boa is that they have short blunt tails that can closely resemble the shape of their head.
4. Most Northerly Species of Boa
The distribution of rubber boas covers a large part of the western US, and stretches as far north as southern British Columbia Canada. This is the highest latitude of any boa. It is the closest point to either pole for a boa.
5. Not Picky Where They Call Home
Rubber Boas have been known to live in a large variety of different habitat types. These habitats include everything from grasslands and meadows, deciduous and coniferous forests, and high alpine areas. Elevations include anywhere form sea level to 10,000 feet.
6. Spending a Lot of Time Hiding
Rubber Boas spend a lot of their time hiding in various places, which can include rocks, logs, leaf litter, burrows, etc. They often hide in the same areas year after year, giving them a small home range.
7. Small for a Boa
Rubber Boas are quite small when compared to other boas such as boa constrictors and emerald tree boas. Rubber boas only get to anywhere from 1.25 to just under 3 feet long.
8. Docile By Nature
Rubber boas do not use striking as a defence mechanism. They are quite docile, and if disturbed will curl into a ball, or release a foul smell. Since they do not strike at humans, this makes them great snakes to use to teach people and children. When held they like to curl around the persons hands.
9. Defensive Tails
Rubber boas eat primarily small young mammals such as shrews, voles, mice, etc. When hunting their prey they will use their tail to ward off other defensive prey around them, which is why their tails often have extensive scarring. They also sometimes will consume snake eggs, lizard eggs, lizards, and small birds and bats.
10. Defence Mechanisms
Rubber boas are preyed upon by almost any reasonable sized predator in their specific habitat. This can include raptors, coyotes, raccoons, cats, etc. One of their defence mechanisms are to curl up into a ball, bury their head inside, and exposed their tail to mimic their head and pretend strike. Although this is not very effective against many large predators, and this is thought to be why rubber boas tend to hide most of the time.
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