The rubber boa (Charina bottae) is one of the smaller members
of the boa family and one of two boas found in North America. Adults
can be anywhere from 15 to 33 inches long; and newborns are
typically 7.5 to 9 inches long. They get their common name from
their skin which is often loose and wrinkled and consists of small
scales that are smooth and shiny, giving them a rubber appearance.
Their blunt head and blunt tail look very similar. When threatened,
they will hide their head under their coiled body and stick their
tail in the air to mimic their head and even make fake "strikes"
Like all boas, rubber boas are constrictors. They will first strike
at the prey, grabbing it with its teeth, and then constrict the prey
until death before consuming it whole. They feel primarily on young
mammals like shrews, voles, and mice while they are still in the
nest, while fending off the mother with their tail. The bones of the
tail are fused into a solid block that is very strong. Often a
rubber boa’s tail will be covered with scars from these battles with
the defensive mother.
Rubber boas are docile snakes and rarely bite. If disturbed, they
release a potent musk from their vent. They are slow-moving and
secretive snakes that are primarily nocturnal. They are seldom seen
in the open.
Rubber Boas have been known to inhabit a wide variety of habitat
types from pine forests to desert and can be found at elevations
anywhere from sea level to over 10,000 feet. . Though they are
tolerant of surprisingly cold temperatures for a snake, they are not
as tolerant of warm temperatures and will spend a large amount of
time under rocks or logs or in burrows.
Rubber boas are vulnerable to many predators because of their slow
nature. Other snakes, hawks, eagles, owls, ravens, coyotes,
raccoons, skunks, and cats are a few of their known predators. Their
primary defense against attack is their secretive nature.