Sanzinia madagascariensis

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Sanzinia madagascariensis
Madagascar tree boa (Sanzinia madagascariensis) Arboretum d'Antsokay.jpg
Arboretum d'Antsokay, Madagascar
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Boidae
Genus: Sanzinia
S. madagascariensis
Binomial name
Sanzinia madagascariensis
  • Xiphosoma madagascariense A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1844
  • Sanzinia madagascariensis
    Gray, 1849
  • Corallus madagascariensis
    Boulenger, 1893
  • Boa mandrita Kluge, 1991 (replacement name)[2]
  • Sanzinia madagascariensis
    Glaw & Vences, 1994
  • Boa mandrita
    — McDiarmid, Campbell & Touré, 1999
  • Sanzinia madagascariensis
    — Andreone et al., 2000
  • Sanzinia madagascariensis
    — Vences et al., 2001[3]
Peyrieras Nature Reserve, Madagascar

Sanzinia madagascariensis,also known as the Malagasy tree boa,[4] or Madagascar tree boa) is a non-venomous boa species endemic to the island of Madagascar. It was considered conspecific with the Nosy Komba ground boa.


Sanzinia madagascariensis

Adults average 4–5 feet (122–152 cm) in length, although 6–7 foot (183–213 cm) specimens are not uncommon. Thermoreceptive pits are located between the labial scales.[4] Females are larger than males.

It is greenish in colour and is found on the east side of Madagascar.[5]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Endemic to Madagascar. The type locality given is "Madagascar".[2] Favors trees and shrubs near streams, rivers, ponds and swamps.[4]

Conservation status[edit]

This species was classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2006[1] with the following criteria: A1cd (v2.3, 1994). This means that a population reduction of at least 20% has been observed, estimated, inferred or suspected over the last 10 years or three generations, whichever is the longer, based on a decline in area of occupancy, extent of occurrence and/or quality of habitat, and based on actual or potential levels of exploitation.[6] It is now listed as Least Concern (LC) as it is widespread, present in heavily degraded habitats and it is not subject to any known or suspected threats.[1]

Also listed as CITES Appendix I, which means that it is threatened with extinction and CITES prohibits international trade except when the purpose of the import is not commercial, for example for scientific research.[7]


Arboreal and generally nocturnal, S. madagascariensis feeds on mammals and birds. Its thermoreceptive pits help it to locate its prey. It will also leave the trees to actively hunt for small mammals on the ground.[4]


Ovoviviparous, females give birth to up to 12 young at a time, each about 15 inches (38 cm) in length.[4]

When females become gravid, their skin color darkens. This adaptation provides increased heat absorption for the developing young. After giving birth, the color returns to normal as soon as it next sheds its skin. Neonates are a bright red that may warn predators to "stay away", while simultaneously providing camouflage among brightly colored treetop flowers.


When Kluge (1991) moved Sanzinia madagascariensis (A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1844) to Boa together with Acrantophis madagascariensis (A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1844), it resulted in homonymy. To fix this nomenclatural problem, he proposed the specific name manditra as a replacement for S. madagascariensis.[2]

It has since been shown that the Malagasy boids and the genus Boa do not form a monophyletic group,[8][9][10] so that the lumping of Sanzinia, Acrantophis and Boa was incorrect, and the name Sanzinia madagascariensis is therefore the correct name for this species.


  1. ^ a b c Vences, M.; Raxworthy, C.J.; Rakotondravony, H. & Rafanomezantsoa, J. (2011). "Sanzinia madagascariensis". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2011: e.T19900A9109451. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2011-2.RLTS.T19900A9109451.en. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Washington, District of Columbia: Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  3. ^ Sanzinia at the Reptile Database. Accessed 17 February 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
  5. ^ Glaw, Frank; Vences, Miguel (2007). A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar (3rd ed.). Köln: M. Vences & F. Glaw Verlags GbR. ISBN 978-3-929449-03-7.
  6. ^ 1994 Categories & Criteria (version 2.3) at the IUCN Red List. Accessed 10 July 2008.
  7. ^ Sanzinia madagascariensis at CITES and United Nations Environment Programme / World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Accessed 10 July 2008.
  8. ^ Vences, Miguel; Glaw, F.; Kosuch, J.; Boehme, W.; Veith, M. (2001). "Phylogeny of South American and Malagasy boine snakes: Molecular evidence for the validity of Sanzinia and Acrantophis and biogeographic implications". Copeia. 2001 (4): 1151–1154. doi:10.1643/0045-8511(2001)001[1151:posaam];2.
  9. ^ Noonan, Brice; Chippindale, P. (2006). "Dispersal and vicariance: The complex evolutionary history of boid snakes". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 40: 347–358. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.03.010. PMID 16624591.
  10. ^ Reynolds, R.G.; Niemiller, M.L.; Revell, L.J. (2014). "Toward a Tree-of-Life for the boas and pythons: Multilocus species-level phylogeny with unprecedented taxon sampling". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 71: 201–213. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.11.011. PMID 24315866.

Further reading[edit]

  • Boulenger GA. 1893. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume I., Containing the Families ... , Boidæ, ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xiii + 448 pp. + Plates I-XXVIII. (Corallus madagascariensis, 103-104).
  • Duméril A-M-C, Bibron G. 1844. Erpétologie générale ou Histoire naturelle complète des Reptiles, Tome sixième. Paris: Roret. xii + 609 pp. (Xiphosoma madagascariense, pp. 549–552).
  • Gray JE. 1849. Catalogue of the Specimens of Snakes in the British Museum. London: Trustees of the British Museum. (Edward Newman, printer). xv + 125 pp. (Sanzinia madagascariensis, p. 99).
  • Kluge AG. 1991. Boine Snake Phylogeny and Research Cycles. Misc. Pub. Museum of Zoology, Univ. of Michigan No. 178. 58 pp. PDF at University of Michigan Library. Accessed 11 July 2008.
  • Vences M, Glaw F. 2003. Phylogeography, systematics and conservation status of boid snakes from Madagascar (Sanzinia and Acrantophis). Salamandra, Reinbach, 39(3/4): p. 181-206. PDF at Miguel Vences. Accessed 29 August 2008.

External links[edit]