How Does A Boa Constrictor Kill Its Prey

Do you want to learn more about your boa constrictor friend?

Are you wondering how a boa’s natural predatory behavior affects how they eat in captivity?

Boa constrictors are fascinating snakes, and a lot of people want to learn more about them.

You may wonder:

How does a boa constrictor kill its prey?

Boa constrictors kill their prey by squeezing them. Despite common beliefs, they don’t kill by choking or crushing their food. Instead, they squeeze to reduce the flow of blood until the animal dies.

Check out the rest of the post for more details.

how does a boa constrictor kill its prey

How Does A Boa Constrictor Kill Its Prey?

Boa constrictors eat any small prey animal they can fit in their mouth.

Usually, these are rodents and mammals such as rats.

Boa constrictors don’t actively hunt and chase down, but they can, if needed.

Constrictors can hear heartbeats of prey from a distance. 

They wait in a likely traveled spot until they sense prey nearby.

Then, they move towards the prey and wait until the prey gets comfortable around them.

With a sudden movement, they bite onto the prey and quickly wrap their coils around the rodent.

The bite does little damage to the prey.

Its main job is to hold onto the prey while it wraps around the animal.

The boa constrictor’s teeth angled inward to hold the prey tight as it struggles to escape.

When the boa coils tightly, it isn’t choking the prey.

Most people believe the snake cuts off oxygen to the animal.

This isn’t the case.

It’s also commonly believed the boa constrictor crushes the bones and organs of the prey.

While the boa constrictor is strong, it isn’t strong enough to break bones except for the most fragile ones.

Learn more about how strong the boa constrictor squeezes.

The boa is strong enough to cut off blood flow to the rest of the body.

As the boa tightens, the blood vessels are cut off.

Within a few moments, the prey animal is dead from lack of blood flow.

Then, the boa constrictors swallow the animal whole (as all snakes do) and digest it over a day and a week.

How Fast Does A Boa Constrictor Kill?

If the boa constrictor killed by biting or choking, it would take a while for the animal to be killed.

During this time, the animal is going to fight for its life by biting and scratching.

This has the potential to cause serious harm to the snake, which may then get infected.

But how long does it take a boa constrictor to kill by constricting blood flow?

The answer depends, but it’s usually within minutes.

If blood flow is cut off at major arteries, the animal will fall unconscious within seconds.

Then, it takes between 1-5 minutes for the animal to die.

This protects the boa constrictor from the animal fighting.

Do Boa Constrictors Eat People?

With a maximum size of around 10′ feet long, most people fear the boa constrictor will attempt to eat people. But this isn’t the case.

Adult humans, and even most kids, are much too large for the constrictor to eat.

With most snakes, including the boa constrictor, you’ll get a good judge of how large they eat based on how large their head and mouth open up.

Boa constrictors mainly prey on large rodents, birds, and mammals.

People are way too big.

Even though they’re known as the squeeze king, the boa constrictor doesn’t have the strength to harm you seriously unless you let it wrap around your neck.

Even if by some horrible accident, the boa constrictor were to kill a person or come upon someone already deceased, they wouldn’t be able to eat you.

Snakes eat by swallowing their prey whole and digesting it in their bodies afterward.

Almost no snake could fit a whole human in their body at one time.

The main exception to this is the reticulated python, which has been known to attack and consume humans rarely.

Staying Safe Around Boa Constrictors

Just because the boa constrictor is one of the safer snake pets doesn’t mean it won’t hurt if you’re not careful.

There are two main times a boa constrictor may accidentally harm you.

First, if you feed the snake a rodent and put your hands in the tank.

The boa will bite at the prey and may also mistake your hand for prey in its feeding frenzy.

Second, if the boa constrictor is surprised or stressed by you, it may bite at you to make you go away.

Both of these situations are easily avoided if you follow these simple precautions:

  • Place food in the tanks with tongs.
  • Don’t move your hand behind the snake.
  • Don’t allow the snake to wrap around your neck.
  • Make sure you move slowly but smoothly around the snake (no jerking motions).
  • When the snake is getting ready to shed, don’t handle it or interact with it.
  • Avoid loud noises or quick movement to prevent startling the snake.
  • If the boa rears at you or opens its mouth, stay back and attempt to handle it another day.


Now you know a little more about how a boa constrictor kills its prey.

As a constrictor, you’d expect it to squeeze its prey to death, but you may not have expected it to kill its prey by stopping blood flow to the animal’s organs.

The boa constrictor also bites its prey, but not for killing.

They use the bite to hold onto it instead.

You don’t have to worry about the snake attempting to kill you.

Humans are too big for boa constrictors to eat.

At the most, if you don’t take care to handle it correctly, it’ll bite to scare you off.

All of this sounds fearsome, but the boa is one of the safest and most rewarding large snakes to own.

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