Boa c. imperator Belize

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Boa c. imperator Belize

Distribution areaBelize

Estimated average length of mature Boa c. imperator femalesmaximum length is 1,8 m (6 ft)

Taxonomic status Subspecies recognized by the CITES convention

Crawl Cay
Ambergris Caye
El Salvador
Costa Rica


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The Belize mainland variety of Boa c. imperator

Boa c. imperator Belize for sale


‘Imperators’ from the mainland of Belize are an almost unknown quantity in herpetoculture. This applies to Europe and also to the USA (as a well-known US breeder has assured us only quite recently).

By accident, only the two insular varieties from Belize have established themselves in herpetoculture, but these animals will be discussed later as we are going to deal with the mainland form now.

According to information provided by the Belize Zoo, the Boa c. imperator (whose vernacular name is ‘wowla’) occur all over the country, feeding on birds, rodents, and lizards. We have no reason to question these statements. However, the alleged lengths of up to 3.6 m (11.8 ft) are pure fantasy.

A report published on the internet site of the ‘National Geographic Channel’ concerning Belize boas, uncritically adopts these measurements and additionally mentions weights of ‘more than 20 lbs’. NB: These indications refer to US-American pounds (1 lb = 435 g) which are a little lighter than their German counterparts (500 g). It should be remarked that a Boa constrictor measuring roughly 3 m  (10 ft) normally weighs approximately 20 kg (44 lbs). This fact alone demonstrates the feasibility of the above statements concerning length and weight.






The indicated length does not match the general image anyway: All Boa c. imperator from Central America are small or at most medium-sized snakes which hardly ever surpass the 2 m (6.6 ft) mark. Really large ‘imperators’ occur only in the southernmost parts of the range, i.e. in Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru. Therefore we can hardly imagine why boas from Belize should reach such stately dimensions. Experience has shown, however, that the lengths of giant snakes are generally exaggerated.
On the other hand, it cannot be questioned that these animals grow considerably larger than their relatives inhabiting the Barrier Islands and the coral atolls off the Caribbean coast of Belize.
During his field studies performed on Crawl Cay Island and on the Belize mainland, Scott BOBACK PhD, a herpetologist from Auburn University in Alabama (USA), found that the insular boas almost exclusively depend on birds for food whereas the mainland varieties may take their fill of small mammals and iguanas as well. All these facts suggest that the size difference existing between the insular and mainland varieties does not result from genetic causes but from the local availability of food items. Scott BOBACK is actually preparing a study bearing the handy title ‘Nature or Nurture?’ which aims at verifying this discovery.
The mainland variety of the Belize boa shows a dark gray to dark brown base coloration with numerous black dots on the belly. The tail is grayish brown. Taken as a whole, these ‘imperators’ are fairly dull and by no means colorful.
For the lovers of Boa constrictors, the two insular forms are much more interesting. These two varieties will be discussed next.