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Hog Island Boas
(Boa constrictor imperator)

Female July 2002

Female April 2003




Temperment: Docile
Size: 4-6 feet
Experience level: Beginner

The Hog Island boas have seen an increase in popularity in recent years. They are a very beautiful boa, being a naturally occuring hypomelanistic. An even more interesting aspect of their physiology is their ability to shift colors from day to night. At night their color lightens and some specimens become almost white on the anterior portion of their body, particularly the head and neck. The rest of the body takes on a lighter hue as well and their normal orange tail saddles are further highlighted.

It has been suspected for many years that Hog Island Boas have been extinct in the wild. There had been no boas seen on Hog Island since the mid 1980's, btu I read an article published last year (2005) that stated that a few had indeed been discovered still on the island. Even with this great news that some may still survive in the wild, there is still a great importance on captive breeding of these snakes, and especially in keeping the bloodlines pure. Quite a few breeders today who are not interested in preserving the natural beauty and genetic integrity of these boas have crossed them into some of the red tails to gain the benefit of the lighter coloring of the Hogs. This is an unfortunate development, but fortunatly there are still several breeders who seek to work only with the pure form of Hogs. I encourage anyone looking to buy these to make every effort to find a breeder who can give you the most assurance that the snakes you are getting are indeed pure.

The care of Hog Island Boas is the same as for the rest of the species. They are very easy to care for and do not reach the size of their mainland cousins. I use a temperature gradient of 75-90F, and try to raise the humidity a bit during the shed cycles.

Taxonomists have placed Hog Island boas in the B.c.imperator group. While I am not a taxonomist, or a field researcher, I feel it is an injustice that these boas were not seperated into their own subspecies. There are significant physiological differences between these and the mainland boas that in my layman's opinion should have warranted their seperation.
It is likely that this taxonomic designation contributed to the loss of these boas in the wild. Since they were considered the same species as the more abundant mainland boas, there were no restrictions placed on their collection. This resulted in heavy collection on the islands for the pet trade, which was compounded by habitat destruction and killing the boas by the natives.
It would be wonderful if some further research could be done with this group of boas since some have been located in the wild again, and the possibility of dividing them investigated, but we will have to wait and see fi this sparks the interest of some of the researchers looking for a nice thesis project.

I do hope that importation does not resume with these boas, until they can be allowed to recover in the wild. I don't think adequate numbers exist at this point to interest wild collectors anyway, btu I do not want to see any additional pressure put on these snakes that they have already been forced to endure.
More effort definately needs to be placed on reproducing these boas, and I would encourage any boa keeper to consider adding some of these unique creatures to their collections.

Clay Davenport
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