Here we aim to explain the differences between Central American boas, and their Columbian Redtail boa cousins. There is a lot of confusion when it comes to identifying species of boa constrictors and the truth is it’s because these snakes look very much the same! They have similar markings, temperaments, and even body shapes making it tough to identify exactly which species or subspecies you’re dealing with.
The two most common species of boa constrictors kept as pets are the Central American Boa (Boa c. constrictor), also known as the “Common Boa,” and the Colombian Red Tail Boa (Boa c. imperator). Often times herp hobbyists will abbreviate these animals to B.C.C. (Boa c. constrictor/Common boa) and B.C.I. (Boa constrictor imperator/Colombian Red Tail Boa). For brevity’s sake, we will also adopt those terms for the remainder of this article.
Because these two snake species can look so similar physically, let’s start off by noting some of the differences you can actually see when you examine the snakes. In general, B.C.I.s are heavier-bodied animals than the B.C.C.s and they will possess very red-colored tail spots (hence their name) with distinctly darker outlines. These tail spots can range from a bright red to a brick/ochre red, but they will definitely be red and not brown like the B.C.C.’s tail. B.C.I.s will also be lighter in overall complexion than the B.C.C.s.
The main differences of these animals however, comes from their place of origin in the wild. Because there is much debate and discussion over which specific regions in which specific countries each species of snake originates from, we’ll keep it simple and say that B.C.C.s are more readily found in the wild with a wider home range and are therefore less expensive than B.C.I.s. It’s best to find out from your supplier/breeder which country or area your snake or it’s ancestors came from as they tend to keep records of this information to maintain purity of genetics.
Backwater Reptiles offers Boa c. imperator for sale as well as Boa c. constrictor for sale. We also offer “Jungle Boas” for sale on our website, which are a specific species of B.C.I. with ancestors that were aberrant-patterned boas first produced in Sweden.