What Do Boa Constrictors Eat? 12 Animals they Hunt

Written by Deborah Bagley
Published: March 7, 2022
Image Credit Jan Hejda/Shutterstock.com
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Boa Constrictors are a type of snake who get their name from the kind of predator that they are, which is a “constrictor”, all that means is that they “squeeze” their prey to death before they eat. Because boa constrictors are quite large when fully grown, it’s not surprising that people often are frightened of them. Let’s explore what boa constrictors eat and whether or not they are dangerous to humans.

What Do Boa Constrictors Eat?

What Do Boa Constrictors Eat
Pet boas eat mice, rats, rabbits, chickens, baby chicks or rats which are frequently kept frozen and then are served once they are thawed out.

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Boa constrictors are carnivorous which means they eat meat. Their favorite prey includes birds, lizards, bats, and small mammals like squirrels and opossums. What boa constrictors eat is strongly connected to the density and variety of possible prey living within their habitat.

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They are largely ambush predators which means they wait very quietly for the prey to come close to them. When the prey comes close enough, boas grab it in their mouth with their small and hooked teeth, which help it hold on while it wraps its very strong body around the prey. The boa then squeezes just enough to stop the heart from pumping blood so the blood no longer goes to the brain and the animal dies. In the wild boas eat mammals that can include opossums and rabbits. Boas in captivity eat a different diet of domestic small mammals, mostly mice.   

The Diet of Boa Constrictors: 12 Animals They Eat

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A boa constrictor’s favorite food is a bat! The size of their victim gets larger as the boa grows in size.

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Boa Constrictors eat:

Boa constrictors being ambush predators don’t always hunt on the ground, sometimes they hang in trees or in the mouths of caves to catch bats which are one of their very favorite foods. As they wait, when a bat flies by, the boa snatches the bat right out of the air! When prey is scarce boas become much more active in going out and searching for their food. An interesting fact found here in this study, is that when the stomach contents of boas were looked it, it showed that they divide their meals equally between the different species that they consume (mammals/lizards/birds).

How Much do Boa Constrictors Eat?

Boa Constrictor Eating a Mouse
When boas eat, they swallow their prey whole and as it moves through their digestive tract it is digested.

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Boa constrictors do not eat consistently in the wild since the prey available can vary from day to day. Their body and metabolism are designed to go for blocks of time without eating and after a large meal it can take a boa a good six days to digest a meal. They can go anywhere from once a week to once every two months.

If you have a pet boa, when they’re younger they tend to eat more consistently. Young boas will often eat twice per week. As boas grow larger and reach maturity they will often only eat once every one to two weeks or even longer periods.

What is typical behavior of a boa constrictor?

Boa constrictors are largely solitary animals and stay alone in the wild. They are largely nocturnal which means they are most active at night, although when it is cold outside, they will lay out in the sun during the day. They prefer to live on dry land and they love to hang out in trees. Even though they prefer to be on land, boas are very good swimmers if they have to be. Sometimes they “borrow” the burrows or home of medium-sized animals.

What Do Pet Boa Constrictors Eat?

Pet Snakes - Boa Constrictor
Constrictors are more popular pets among snake enthusiasts.

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Because of their size, most people assume a boa constrictors would attack a human but the truth is there are very few cases of them attacking humans. Even infants are not suitable prey for them. The truth is, boas are popular pets among snake enthusiasts, and in some countries across South America people keep boas inside their homes loose so that they can patrol their homes and control and prevent infestations by rats.

Boas are popular pet snakes because of their docile and calm temperament. Boas are slow-moving as snakes go and rarely are in a hurry to go anywhere. They are very easy to keep as pets because they need very little as far as a home goes. They just need a large enclosure and their home must have the correct temperature and correct humidity.

Boas can be fed infrequently. While eating frequency can change between different species of constrictors, they can generally be fed between once every five days and a month. Their diet is simple, but it is important to feed them the proper way, and to choose the correct mammal for their size. Generally, the best food for boas is mice and rats. As they grow larger they may also eat rabbits, but it’s important to not feed boa constrictors food that’s too wide as this can lead to injuries.

In general, boa constrictors are the perfect beginner snake for someone who wants to learn to have snakes as pets. Their size requires their enclosure to be expanded as they grow. Boas are a long-term commitment though; they can live 20 to 30 years.

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