Seasonal Observations: Rubber Boa (Charina Bottae)

Sighted by Doc Leslie, 30 march in Pemby

Spotted yesterday in Pemberton by local herpetologist, Leslie Anthony, the rubber boa out sunning itself taking a moment to enjoy life outside the winter den.

Here are a few cool facts about the rubber boa, courtesy of BCReptiles.ca:

  • they look like a rubbery tube, thanks to their loose skin and small smooth scales
  • they’re usually between 35 and 80 cm long, and dark olive green to brown in colour, with pale yellow bellies
  • they’re also known as a “two headed snake” because it’s so hard to tell their top from their tail – they have no neck and tiny eyes, and often use their tail as a decoy
  • sluggish and secretive, they never bite and are happiest hiding beneath a damp log
  • they can live up to 30 years, which is quite long-lived for a snake
  • they belong to the same family as pythons and anacondas, and will wrap themselves around mice or shrews until their hearts stop, before dining on them. They also eat baby mice live, bird eggs, nestling birds, nestling rabbits, small lizards, other snakes, salamanders, small chipmunks and bats, and are able to swim, climb and burrow in search of food.
  • they hibernate all winter in communally-shared underground dens called hibernacula
  • spring is the season for mating
  • pregnant females carry their young until mid-August when 1-8 earthworm like newborns emerge
  • they prefer to live in humid mountainous areas, burrowing into loamy or sandy soils, or setting up base in  abandoned rodent burrows, rock crevices, rotting stumps, logs, bark, litter around development, and decomposing sawdust piles.
  • scientists have found that boas can select rocks of a certain thickness to rest beneath in order to thermoregulate more efficiently.
  • they species is listed as a species of special concern federally because of their low reproductive rate and patchy distribution of habitat.

3 thoughts on “Seasonal Observations: Rubber Boa (Charina Bottae)

  1. Leslie Anthony says:

    Excellent summary Lisa, however one point is worth correcting: I had to dig around for hours before I found that one. Being crepuscular and semi-fossorial they are infrequently seen on the surface and never sun themselves; they are easier to find in spring because they are dispersing from dens near the surface (especially on humid cloudy days), but when it gets hot in the summer they mostly disappear deep into the cool netherworld of rock talus…

    • Ralph North says:

      Hi Leslie,

      We came cross a Rubber Boa (Charina Bottae) on a hillside about 225m above Lillooet May 22, 2013 about 1245hrs in bright sunshine. It appeared rather large, with it’s exposed central body 35mm in diameter (without tapering) and 40cm long. Both it’s tail and head were in holes in the broken rock and could not be seen, so we do not have an estimate of it’s overall length. Perhaps it was hunting. It did not move for the several minutes we observed it, or so much as flinch when we poked it. It was not seen upon returning to the location about 1hr 15 min later.
      I have never obsered one before and did not know what species of snake it was until researching it on the web today.

      Ralph North

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