Boa vs Python: How to Tell Them Apart

Written by August Croft
Updated: January 23, 2023
© iStock.com/Mark Kostich
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When it comes to a boa vs python, how can you tell these two snakes apart? They are very similar in their appearance, but there are some key differences between them that you can use to both get to know them as individuals and compare and contrast them when they are side by side.

In this article, we will take a look at all of the various differences between a boa and a python, including their physical and behavioral differences. You should feel confident in your ability to tell these two snakes apart, whether you plan on encountering them or not. Let’s get started and talk about them now! 

Comparing Boa vs Python

boa vs python
The family names are different for these two snakes, as boas are members of the Boidae family while pythons are members of the Pythonidae family.

©A-Z-Animals.com

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BoaPython
FamilyBoidaePythonidae
Size6-10 feet long3-30 feet
AppearancePatterned in brown, red, green, tanPatterned or solid, green, brown, tan
LocationNorth America, South AmericaAfrica, Asia, Australia
ReproductionOvoviviparousOviparous

The Main Differences Between Boa vs Python

boa vs python
Pythons differ from boas in that they have more bones in their head as well as the presence of an upper jaw with teeth.

©Jason Mintzer/Shutterstock.com

There are many key differences between a boa vs python. The family names are different for these two snakes, as boas are members of the Boidae family while pythons are members of the Pythonidae family. Pythons also tend to outgrow boas in both size and weight, with some pythons growing over 30 feet long. Finally, both the locations and reproductive abilities of these two snakes differ greatly.

Let’s talk more about these differences now.

Boa vs Python: Family or Species

The primary difference between boa versus python lies in their species classification and family names. Boa constrictors belong to the Boidae family, while pythons belong to the Pythonidae family. While this may not seem like a very important difference, it leads to a lot of distinctions between these two types of snakes. 

For example, pythons differ from boas in that they have more bones in their head as well as the presence of an upper jaw with teeth. This is likely due to their inherent species differences, and this also gives these two snakes different reproductive cycles as well. 

boa vs python
Boa constrictors average 6 to 10 feet in length, while pythons range in length from 3 feet all the way to over 30 feet long.

©viper345/Shutterstock.com

Boa vs Python: Size and Weight

Another key difference between boas and pythons is their overall size and weight differences. While both of these snakes tend to weigh the same amount, if not a similar amount, they differ in their overall length depending on their breed. Let’s talk more about that now.

Boa constrictors average 6 to 10 feet in length, while pythons range in length from 3 feet all the way to over 30 feet long. While it definitely depends on the specific breed of python, this size difference is vast in terms of the relative size of a boa. 

Boa vs Python: Location and Habitat

boa vs python
Boas are often found in North and South America, while pythons are found in Africa, Asia, and Australia.

©iStock.com/timspix58

The location and habitats of boas vs pythons differs as well. While both snakes enjoy warm climates and relative levels of humidity, they tend to exist in completely different areas of the world. For example, boas are often found in North and South America, while pythons are found in Africa, Asia, and Australia. 

Boa constrictors enjoy hanging from tree branches, while pythons prefer to be on the ground. You may also find pythons swimming frequently in the wild, as they are fairly adept at it, while boas tend to avoid the water in general. 

Boa vs Python: Reproduction

A key difference between boas and pythons lies in their reproductive cycles and systems. Pythons lay eggs, while boa constrictors give birth to live young. These reproductive cycles are known as oviparous and ovoviviparous, respectively. Let’s talk a bit more about what this means for these two snakes.

Boa constrictors incubate their young inside of their body, where the eggs will hatch and the babies will be born live by the mother. Pythons are more traditional in their reproductive cycle, giving birth to eggs and incubating them for a period of time until the young snakes are ready to hatch. 

boa vs python
Pythons lay eggs, while boa constrictors give birth to live young.

©dwi putra stock/Shutterstock.com

Boa vs Python: Appearance and Coloring

The final difference between boas vs. pythons have to do with their physical appearance and colorings. While both of these snakes are strikingly similar upon first glance, you may be able to tell them apart based on their overall color scheme and patterns.

Boa constrictors tend to be brown, tan, red, or gray with a variety of patterns, while pythons can be found in solid colors as well as diamond patterns. However, both of these snakes have very similar head shapes and markings, so it is not recommended to base your identification of the snakes on looks alone. It often takes an expert to tell these two snakes apart, regardless of breed!

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The Featured Image

boa vs python
Juvenile Green Tree Python. Adolescents of the species can appear in shades ranging from brilliant neon yellow to brick red.
© iStock.com/Mark Kostich

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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