An Animal of the High Desert -- Rubber Boa

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" with it..

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.

 


Home | Background | Surveillance |  Land Management | Education | Research | Risk Assessment | Publications |  Links | Feedback | Opportunities