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Boiga dendrophila.jpg
Boiga dendrophila, mangrove snake
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Boiga
Fitzinger, 1826

Boiga is a large genus of opisthoglyphous (rear-fanged), mildly venomous snakes, known commonly as cat-eyed snakes or simply cat snakes, in the family Colubridae. Species of the genus Boiga are endemic to southeast Asia, India, and Australia, but due to their extremely hardy nature and adaptability, have spread to many other suitable habitats around the world. There are 34 recognized species in the genus. According to the study done by Jiri Smid regarding Old World cat snakes, the ancestor of the cat snake originated in Africa, from where it diversified and expanded to other countries. Despite this diversity however, the different species have very similar needs in terms of temperature and precipitation. [1]

Species and subspecies[edit]

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was original described in a genus other than Boiga.


Cat snakes are long-bodied snakes with large heads and large eyes. They vary greatly in pattern and color. Many species have banding, but some are spotted and some are solid-colored. Colors are normally black, brown, or green with white or yellow accents.[citation needed]


They are primarily arboreal, nocturnal snakes.


They prey on various species of lizards, small snakes, and birds, they also feed on other mammals in the wild.


Their venom toxicity varies from species to species, but is not generally considered to be life-threatening to humans. Since their venom doesn't usually harm humans, they are popular exotic pets.


Boiga species are oviparous.[2]

In captivity[edit]

Boiga dendrophila is by far the most common species in captivity, but Boiga cynea and Boiga nigriceps are also found. Nowadays, B. cynodon, B. philippina and a “Katherine morph” B. irregularis are also circulating in the South-East Asian exotic pet trade. Others are not commonly available. They are hardy and adaptable and tend to do well in captivity after the initial period of stress from the importation process is passed. They are not bred commonly in captivity, so most specimens available are wild caught, and thus are prone to heavy internal parasite load. Adjusting them to a rodent only diet can be difficult for the inexperienced reptile keeper.[citation needed]

Invasive species[edit]

Boiga irregularis in particular has been federally banned in the United States because of its effect by accidentally being introduced to the island of Guam. Some time during the 1950s, these snakes (or possibly a single female with eggs) reached the island, possibly having hidden in imported plant pots. The island of Guam lacks native snakes or predators that can deal with snakes the size and aggressiveness of Boiga irregularis. As a result, they have bred unchecked as an invasive species, and began consuming the island's bird life in extreme numbers. Currently, dozens of bird species have been completely eradicated from the island, many species that were found nowhere else on earth, and the snake has reached astonishing population densities, reported to be as high as 15,000 snakes per square mile. In addition to devouring the native fauna, this species will routinely crawl into power transformers, and, unfortunately for all involved, this typically results in both an electrocuted snake and substantial blackouts.[3]


  1. ^ Genus Boiga at Wikispecies.
  2. ^ Rodda GH, Fritts TH, McCoid MJ, Campbell EW III (1999). "An Overview of the Biology of the Brown Treesnake (Boiga irregularis), a Costly Introduced Pest on Pacific Islands". pp. 44-80. In: Rodda GH, Sawai Y, Chiszar D, Tanaka H (editors) (1999). Problem Snake Management: the Habu and the Brown Treesnake. Ithaca, New York: Comstock Publishing Associates, a Division of Cornell University Press. 534 pp. ISBN 978-0801435072.
  3. ^ "The Brown Treesnake on Guam". Fort Collins Science Center, United States Geological Survey. Archived from the original on 2007-07-17.

Further reading[edit]

  • Fitzinger LI (1826). Neue Classification der Reptilien nach ihren natürlichen Verwandtschaften. Nebst einer Verwandtschafts-tafel und einem Verzeichnisse der Reptilien-Sammlung des k.k. zoologischen Museums zu Wien. Vienna: J.G. Heubner. five unnumbered + 67 pp. + one plate. (Boiga, new genus, p. 60). (in German and Latin).

External links[edit]