Thursday, November 5, 2009

Coastal Rosy Boa

The rosy boa has three subspecies: (1) the desert rosy boa, found in north and southeastern Southern California and southwestern Arizona; (2) the coastal rosy boa, found in southwestern Southern California and northwestern Baja California; and (3) the Mexican rosy boa, found in extreme southern Arizona and along the eastern edge of the Gulf of California in Mexico.

They are wildly popular as pets in Southern Californa because they are docile, they eat mice readily (which can be purchased at pet stores), they are slow moving and very unthreatening looking, as far as snakes go. They range from about 24 to 42 inches in length, have a thick body and small head, not much larger than the neck, and three broad longitudinal stripes. The primary difference between the coastal rosy boa and the desert rosy boa, is that the stripes on the desert rosy boa are pretty solid and the stripe color is not present, or is at least less significant, between the stripes. The coastal rosy boa usually has scales with the stripe color scattered significantly between the stripes.

The rosy boas I've seen in our area tend to be intergrade, a little bit between the coastal and the desert rosy, with a tendency toward the coastal characteristics. The rosy below was caught in our neighbor's driveway on October 2, 1993.

The general color can by slaty, beige or rosy and this one was a particularly beautiful slate color. The stripe color is a purplish red.

This picture, in comparison with my hand, illustrates how thick the body is and how small the head is in comparison.

It also had very interesting horizontal strips on the bottom, whereas others I have seen tend to be more splotchy.

The next rosy boa was caught near Verbenia Avenue, past Cabazon, in Riverside County in the spring of 1995. Its background color is much lighter and its stripes are more orange.

The next photo illustrates how small the head is compared to the rest of the body.

This picture clearly shows the vertical pupils.

A closer look at the stripes.

For snake hunters, they are generally considered a prize. I think I've only seen one driving roads at night. We have some friends that caught one about thirteen years ago on a road not too far off the freeway, in Redlands. They still have it as a pet and it is very large and very thick.

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