Epicrates cenchria is a boa species endemic to Central and South America. Common names include the rainbow
boa, and slender boa. A terrestrial species, it is known for its attractive iridescent sheen caused by
structural coloration. Nine subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate subspecies described
Rainbow boas have a fairly large head in relation to their neck. They have small eyes with a vertical pupil,
like most members of the Boidae family. The body is relatively thick compared to the neck and is covered with
smooth, iridescent scales. The iridescence, or rainbow effect, is the result of tiny ridges along the edges
of the snake’s scale. When sunlight shines on this snake, its body gives off a rainbow effect hence the
In the picture above, you can see the rainbow effect clearly. While many snakes have some degree of
iridescence to their scales, it is much more pronounced in this species.
Rainbow boas are quite variable in terms of their appearance. The colors and patterns vary throughout their
Central and South American range. All of these snakes are some shade of red, orange or brown. The body is
patterned with ringlike blotches that resemble eye spots. In some cases, the snake can have a series of
connected dark rings that run down the middle of the body.
An adult rainbow boa can reach lengths of 3 to 7 feet (0.9 - 2.1 meters).
Distribution and habitat
Rainbow boas live throughout central and South America. Their range extends from Costa Rica in the north,
all the way down to Argentina on the southern and. They can be found in tropical forests as well is dryer
Rainbow boas are commonly found near water. In fact, they seem to be attracted to habitats that surround
bodies of water. But they can also be found in savannas further away from water.
These snakes have prehensile tails that help them climb. But they are not truly arboreal like their cousins
the emerald tree boa. Instead, they typically live and hunt on the ground. But they will readily climb trees
and bushes in order to find food, when necessary.
Rainbow boas are most active at dusk and at night.
Diet and feeding
What does a rainbow boa eats? Just about anything it can catch and kill. These beautiful snakes will readily
eat a variety of small mammals and birds.
It’s usually an ambush-style hunter, though it will also actively pursue prey at times.
Rainbow boas catch their prey by first striking and grabbing with their jaws, and then wrapping coils around
the animal. Every time the prey animal takes a breath, the snake will squeeze tighter. Like all snakes,
rainbow boas ingest their food whole without chewing. They have specialized jaws that partially separate,
allowing them to eat prey larger than their own heads.
Females of this species give birth to live young. The gestation period is around four or five months on
average. After that period, the female can give birth to anywhere between eight and 20 baby snakes.
I hope you enjoyed these rainbow boa facts, and I encourage you to continue researching this interesting
species. If you have questions or comments, you can enter them in the box provided below.
Zoológico de Vallarta A. C.
Leave your comments, your opinion is important to us