Snake Profile: Hog Island Boa (9 Amazing Photos)

The Hog Island boa is a medium-sized snake and is popular among enthusiasts to keep as pets.

This non-venomous boa is native to only a few islands along the northern coastline of Honduras.

Boas are found all over the South American continent, and there continues to be a debate whether the Hog Island boa is a separate species or a subspecies of the boas found elsewhere.

When compared to other boas found in all locations, the Hog island boa tends to be on the smaller side.

So, that’s a big reason as to why this species makes for a popular pet snake.

A few other key reasons for the popularity of the Hog Island Boa are its docile nature, ease of handling, and exotic color; for this reason, it makes a great pet, but unfortunately, the illegal pet trade has resulted in its near extinction.

Hog Island Boa Locality

The Hog Island boa is sometimes also known as the Boa Constrictor Imperator, but whether it belongs to this species of Boas continues to be debated.

Boa Constrictor Imperator

The reptile is native to Cayos de Cochinos, an island off the Honduran coast. Besides Cayos de Cochinos, there are two other smaller islands (Cape Menor and Cape Mayor) about ten miles off the coast of Honduras, where the Hog Island boa is found.

This area is a marine reserve and protected.

Over the past five decades, human travel and illegal transportation, these boas have been introduced to many parts of the world, including the Americas, especially the USA.

The Hog Island boa is often found in the waters of Florida as a result of unethical releasing. Unfortunately, some snake owners decide they no longer want their slithery friend.

Boa Constrictor Imperator

So, they will release them into the wild, which can have some serious repercussions on local ecosystems.

Fortunately enough, these boa don’t grow too large. So, you won’t have to worry about your dog being eaten by one of these snakes… unless it’s a Shiatsu or Chihuahua.

Where to Look if You Want to Find One

One of the best times to see the Hog Island boa in the wild is early morning. the snake basks on trees, or on rocks.

The boa is nocturnal, the chances for locating one is minimal unless they venture at night.

The snake prefers areas near bodies of fresh water.

This is because other animals frequent the areas to drink water.

Natural Habitat and Environment

The Hog Island boa’s habitat is in the wild.

What do we mean by wild? Well, let’s just say you probably won’t find a snake like this in the neighborhood forest.

Their preferred habitat consists of a tropical rain forest and dense growth of bushes.

hog island boa on some branches, look how white it's head is

The boa prefers vegetation as opposed to open grassland. It prefers to lie hidden in the thick growth of vegetation because it serves two purposes:

1. The snake can avoid the intense temperature, and humidity.

2. The foliage also give cover from potential predators and offers ample opportunity to grab any passing prey.

A majority of the Hog Island boas prefer to remain in one territory.

That said, they will seek a new home if food resources are scarce near their home.

Hog Island Boa Color, Size, and Attributes

The one major difference in the Hog Island boas and other boas in the region is their size and color.

The Hog Island boa has low melanin in the skin and hence tends to be light-colored compared to the boas found on the mainland.

However, the Hog Island boa still retains the distinctive darker tail that is so typical with most other boas.

The color of the tail in this species varies from orange to pink.

The Hog Island boa can be differentiated from the other boa species like the boa constrictor by the number of scales; the former has fewer dorsal and anal scales.

The Hog Island Boa can vary in color from light gray, light brown, pink, or creamy white. The dorsal surface is covered with distinct patches, which are usually darker than the body color.

These bright colors are often more pronounced in the dark.

It is these exotic colors that make the Hog Island boa a favorite among snake lovers. The snake has a tapered tail, and is darker than the body.

The snake has a slightly tapered mouth with large oval eyes on either side.

It has a razor shaped teeth, and is a constricting snake.The teeth help with two things: holding on to prey while the snake constricts and suffocates it’s meal, and the actual digestion of the meal once killed.

How Long Do Hog Island Boas Live?

In the wild, the snake lives for at least two decades. That’s right — Hog Island Boas are known to live for up to 20 years in the wild.

This is unusual for snakes in the wild, and is due to them inhabiting such a remote location.

On the Island of Cayos de Cochinos, the reptile has no large predators, and that is the reason for its longevity.

In captivity, the Hog Island boa is able to live for over three decades (30+ years), if the right environment is provided. Hog island boas have an exceptional lifespan both in the wild and captivity.

How Large Do They Grow?

The Hog Island boa is a medium-sized snake that is muscular and thick, like many other boas.

The snake reaches a length of 4-6 feet (121-183 cm) when fully mature, but there are some reports of these snakes growing to a length of over 10 feet (perhaps they have been mistaken for the boa constrictors).

When fully mature, the boa will weigh around 12-14 pounds, with the females being slightly larger than the males both in weight and length.

Hog Island Boa Bite

Humans who have been bitten by the Hog Island boa do state that the bite can be somewhat painful.

Often the snake will break the skin and cause bleeding. However, the bite is not as serious as there is no venom.

Thorough washing of the skin with soap and water is recommended as these boas do carry bacteria in their mouth.

Overall, the shock of the bite is often more scary than the bite being painful.

Just remember, in the case of a bite, there are some general guidelines to follow:

  1. Don’t panic. Snakes can pick up on fear and other emotions, and panicking will only make things worse. Remain calm, and this experience will be much easier.
  2. Don’t yank off the snake if it latches on. They have barb-like teeth, and if you yank them off, it will rip off your skin. Which will be extremely painful.
  3. If it latches, run water over the head of the snake. Try ice water. If that doesn’t work, try whiskey (or another grain/drinking alcohol). Doing so will likely immediately cause the snake to unlatch.
  4. Wash the would with soap and water, and contact a doctor if your concerned of infection.

Are they Venomous?

The Hog Island boa is not venomous. It kills prey by constriction.

While it is not lethal, it has a powerful jaw with razor-sharp teeth that can cause significant pain.

The bite is painful but not dangerous to humans.

General Behavior

In the wild, there is little information on these snakes chiefly because so few exist.

Unlike the boas on the mainland, the Hog Island boa is much calmer and docile.

A key reason for their passive nature is the lack of major predators on these islands. 

The Hog Island boa, like most other boas, is a solitary creature and only comes together with females during mating.

a beautiful hog island boa with a white backdrop

The animal is nocturnal and prefers to hide during the day time. This boa likes to bask in the early morning when the temperature is not so hot.

The Hog Island boa is semi-arboreal, meaning it has adapted to life both on the land and trees. Early in life, it prefers to live on the trees, but as it gets bigger and heavier, it will remain terrestrial.

The Hog Island boa tends to be active during the day time, especially during the wet season.

It is an even-tempered reptile and easy to breed. While not as muscular as the mainland boas, they are strong and can kill relatively large prey.

When the Hog Island boa is threatened, it will coil its lower body hiss loudly and make multiple strikes. The younger boas tend to be easily irritated and can be aggressive.

During the shedding period, the snake can be unpredictable and they can attack.

Also, the old skin peeling over its face may blur vision, causing the snake to be more on the defensive and strike at anything perceived to be a threat.

Diet and Eating Habits

The Hog Island boa, like most other boas, has a varied diet that consists of birds, rodents, amphibians, lizards, and other snakes. As the snake grows, so does the size of the prey.

How They Hunt

The Hog Island boa is not venomous and hunts prey by constricting them. It will remain silent on a tree or in the bushes for a long time waiting for prey to pass by.

Once the victim is within reach, it will quickly bite and asphyxiate the animal. Using its muscular body, it will squeeze the animal to death.

Their victims die within minutes, and is then they will swallow the dead animal whole.

Reproduction and Mating

The Hog Island boa only becomes social during the mating season.

Both male and female boas are polygamous, meaning each will mate with multiple partners.

two hog island boas mating

Mating usually takes place once a year-just around spring.

However, the female has to be healthy, or she will not conceive. After mating, the gestation period may last 5-7 months, depending on the temperature.

At the end of summer, the female will have a litter of 10-30 hatchlings.

The female Hog Island boa is not a good parent; as soon she gives birth, the boa mother leaves the young lings on their own.

How devastating!

Keep in mind though, most snakes do end up doing this. There are only a few species out there that will live in large ‘snake family units’.

The boa newborns develop fully before birth. For the first few days, they may survive on the remnants of birth and then eat insects and other small animals.

Other predators like birds, lizards, and rodents kill a majority of small boas at this stage. The few who survive have a slow growth rate and will not reach maturity until age 3-4. 

Are Hog Island Boas Good Pet Snakes?

Many people keep the Hog Island boa a s pet. This is because of the snakes docile nature, ease of handling, impressive physical features, and beautiful colors.

Is it ethical to own one as a pet?

To be honest, not really. It’s a heavily endangered species of snake, primarily due to the exotic pet trade. While we love snakes and fully condone them as pets, it’s best to look to other species if you want to support the species as a whole.

This type of boa only has a negative reaction to rough treatment.

In captivity, they will feed on mice. We generally recommend feeding the reptile frozen as opposed to live rodents, as they can seriously injure the snake with their claws.

For those who decide to keep the snake as a pet, the right type of environment is vital.

In the wild, the snake is both terrestrial and arboreal, and hence the tank should have a small tree as the snake likes to bask and hang out from the tree limbs.

It is a tropical snake, so the enclosure must be warm, and one should provide plenty of water.

Like all snakes, the snake likes to remain hidden, and thus, one must provide a space for the snake to crawl into; this maybe rocks, a heap of leaves, or logs.

The snake is in big demand and may not be readily available from pet stores. Because there are very few snakes in the wild, the cost of the snake may range from $200-$400.

You can find the snakes ads on Facebook, Craigslist, and other social media websites.

For those considering buying the snake, it is important to get one from a reputable dealer.

Role in the Ecosystem

Like most snakes, the Hog Island Boa plays a vital role in the ecosystem.

It controls the rodent population and helps prevent the spread of disease.

The reptile also eats many migrating birds and even their eggs. The boas cause a limited impact to other animals due to their few numbers.

Conservation and Threats

The Hog Island boa snake is seriously at risk of extinction, and only a small population remain on the island.

The illegal trade and exploitation of these reptiles over the past four decades have seriously led to a decline in the snake population.

Besides, the continual destruction of its habitat and human killings also contribute to its low numbers,

The Cayos de Los Cochinos Island is currently under protection, and all the water around it is classified as nature and marine reserve.

The reptile is not legally available as a pet, and anyone caught trafficking faces huge fines.

Experts believe the snake will be extinct in the next two decades if the illegal pet trade continues.

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