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Red-tailed Boa

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Boidae
Genus: Boa
Species: B. constrictor
Boa constrictor
Linnaeus, 1758
The Red-tailed Boa, Boa constrictor, is a species of boa, the second largest member of the family Boidae after the anaconda. This snake normally reaches a size of around 8 to 10 feet (2.5 to 3.0 m), with females being slightly larger on average than the males. The largest recorded specimen was over 18 feet (5.5 m) long, but there is some controversy over this 18 foot specimen, which was collected on the island of Trinidad. The specimen was not preserved for science and the skin was lost and it is now believed that it was a case of misidentification; the specimen in question most likely being an anaconda.Common specimens have an interesting pattern of brown and black with a reddish tail (see picture). They do well in captivity, become quite docile, and are a common sight in zoos. Boas can easily live to be 20 to 30 years old, with rare accounts of 40+ years, making them a long-term commitment as a pet. Animal husbandry may be the most significant factor in captive lifespan.Female Boas have "live birth", rather than laying eggs. Fertilization by the male is internal. During copulation, females can cling to the male via a small set of "spurs" that are generally hidden below scales on either side of the vent (genital). Due to the lengthy mating period, it is often difficult to determine the start date of fertilization. As result, gestation period of Boas is not well understood. After a gestation period of roughly 4-6 months, the female may give birth to 20 to 80 live young.The species has been divided into a number of sub-species that occur from Mexico to Argentina, as well as on the Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and St. Lucia. The sub-species vary somewhat in average size, colour, and demeanor. Selective breeding has resulted in boa constrictors which vary in colour, to include specimins which are completely white, or white with orange-colored sections.The common name "boa constrictor" can also be used to refer to any of the four species in the genus Boa, as all are constrictors — that is, they kill their prey by constriction.The subspecies B. c. imperator (typically from Colombia) are popular in pet stores today, as are B. c. constrictor (Guyana, Peru, Surinam). Both have been called "common" boas in the pet trade, although B. c. imperator is more common in pet stores today. The term "red-tailed" (and which subspecies is the "true" red-tailed boa) is debated somewhat in the breeding community, as it tends to be used by pet-shops as a marketing term when referring to any boa, and has little scientific meaning.
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