Bahamian pygmy boa constrictor

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Tropidophis canus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Tropidophiidae
Genus: Tropidophis
Species: T. canus
Binomial name
Tropidophis canus
(Cope, 1868)

4 recognized, see text


The Bahamian pygmy boa constrictor (Tropidophis canus) or simply the Bahamian pygmy boa is a species of nonvenomous dwarf boa native to the Bahamas. The snake's total length (including tail) is short, averaging between 30 centimetres (12 in) and 60 centimetres (24 in). Bahamian pygmy boas have the ability to voluntarily bleed and coil into a tight ball as a defense mechanisms. Four subspecies are recognized, and occur across many different Bahamian Islands.



Like many species of pygmy boas the Bahamian pygmy boa is a rather small snake averaging between 30 cm (12 in) and 60 cm (24 in) in total length.[2][3] The snake has the ability to change color through the movement of its dark pigment granules. Depending on the time of the day, a light or dark color may provide better camouflage.[2] The Bahamian pygmy boa has a yellow-orange tail tip, which is likely used to lure unsuspecting prey.[2] In the 1960s herpetologists Schwartz and March recorded an ontogenetic change within the populations of all four subspecies.[4] Juvenile snakes were reportedly spotted with dark blotches on a lighter ground color, while adults were only faintly spotted with a less prominent body color.[4]


Bahamian pygmy boas are mostly inactive during daytime hours, usually coming out at night or during rain.[2] Most dwarf boas are terrestrial and rest underground or in vegetation. A few have adapted to being arboreal.[2][3] Young boas live in trees and shrubs and feed mostly on anole lizards. Adult boas feed on frogs, birds and rats.[5] If threatened, the snake has been observed to coil up into a tight ball similar to that of a ball python.[2] On Andros Island the species is known as the "shame snake" because of this defensive tactic.[2] It also has the ability to voluntarily bleed from its eyes, mouth, and nostrils.[2][3][6]




  1. ^ The Reptile Database.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Snakes". Ardastra Zoological Gardens. Archived from the original on 12 April 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Schwartz, Albert; Robert Henderson (1991). Amphibians and Reptiles of the West Indies: Descriptions, Distributions, and Natural History. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-1049-7. 
  4. ^ a b de Sa, Rafael O. (2005). "Global Biodiversity Crisis: Genetic Diversity and Amphibian Extinction" (PDF). Richmond, Virginia: University of Richmond. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b "Reptiles of Bimini". University of Miami. Retrieved 10 April 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bailey JR. 1937. A review of some recent Tropidophis material. Proc. New England Zool. Club 16: 41-52. (Tropidophis pardalis barbouri, new subspecies, p. 49).
  • 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. (Ungalia cana, p. 114).
  • Cope ED. 1868. An examination of the REPTILIA and BATRACHIA obtained by the Orton Expedition to Equador [sic] and the Upper Amazon, with notes on other Species. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 20: 96-140. (Ungalia cana, new species, p. 129).
  • Garman S. 1887. On West Indian Reptiles in the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy, at Cambridge, Mass. Proc. American Philosoph. Soc. 24: 278-286. (Ungualia curta, new species, p. 279).
  • Schwartz A, Thomas R. 1975. A Check-list of West Indian Amphibians and Reptiles. Carnegie Museum of Natural History Special Publication No. 1. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Carnegie Museum of Natural History. 216 pp. (Tropidophis canus, pp. 191–192).
  • Stull OG. 1928. "A Revision of the Genus Tropidophis ". Occ. Pap. Mus. Zool. Univ. Michigan (195): 1-52. (Tropidophis pardalis androsi, new subspecies, pp. 34–35).

External links[edit]