Saturday, May 8, 2021

Boa constrictor feeds on a variety of prey, including doves

Boa constrictor predating on a Ruddy ground dove. Photos provided by Adam Fifi. || The Boa constrictor, locally known as Macajuel or red-tailed boa, is a common snake found across both Trinidad and Tobago (Murphy et al. 2018). This large, non-venomous snake is a top predator in ecosystems where they reside and help maintain food web balance. Boa constrictors feed on a variety of other animals, including small mammals such as rodent pests, lizards, and sometimes birds. Indeed, although Boa constrictors may be found mostly on the ground, they do sometimes climb up trees, which enables them the ability to prey on birds. An example can be seen in the Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago where an individual was observed predating on a crested oropendola, photographed by Edward Barrow. A Living World article by Hayes and Gabriel (2019) also highlights another common bird (kiskadee) that the Boa constrictor feeds on. However, an additional bird prey includes the very widespread and common Ruddy ground dove. This is perhaps the most easily seen and common bird in urban gardens, near residential areas. Thus, it may not be too surprising that the Boa constrictor also feeds on them. This natural history observation is the first reported documentation of this particular prey species, and was published in the international journal Herpetological Review in March 2021. This event took place on Gasparee island, and no doubt Boa constrictors continue to predate on other small animals there, and across Trinidad and Tobago. || References Murphy, J.C., Downie, J.R.,...Auguste, R.J. 2018. A field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists' Club. 336 pp. || Hayes, F.E., and Gabriel, R.L. 2019. Predation by a Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor) on a Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) in Trinidad, W.I. Living World 2019: 47-48. || Auguste, R.J. and Fifi, A. 2021. Boa constrictor diet. Herpetological Review 52:146-147.

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