Difference Between A Boa Constrictor And Anaconda

Do you know what a boa constrictor is?

Are confused between two of the most famous snakes?

There are many different snake species out there, and two often confused are boa constrictors and anacondas. 

You may want to know: 

What is the difference between a boa constrictor and anaconda?

While both boa constrictors and anacondas belong to the Boidae family, there are important distinctions between them. Boa constrictors are common household pets which grow no longer than 10 ft, while anacondas are massive snakes which can reach over 30 ft long and are not commonly kept as pets.

In this article, we’ll dive into the details surrounding boa constrictors and anacondas, then give you an excellent summary to help differentiate the two.

what is the difference between a boa constrictor and anaconda

Boa Constrictors

Boa constrictors are a snake species frequently bred in captivity as both household pets and private collectors. 

They are large, non-venomous, and heavy-bodied. 

They are as short as 3′ feet (1 m) or as long as 13 feet (4 m). 

Males and females of the species are easily distinguishable, as females are generally larger in terms of length and girth. 

Mature female boas usually range from 7 to 10′ feet (3 m) and weigh up to 35 pounds, while males range between 6 and 8′ feet (2.4 m). 

Males also have a longer tail for their hemipenes and longer pelvic spurs, which are thought to be rudimentary hind legs. 

In terms of coloring, boa constrictors are generally in a more natural range of colors. 

Their base is usually brown, gray, or cream with a pattern of brown or reddish designs.

Wild boa constrictors are found throughout South America and on islands, along with the cost. 

They have a robust system which allows them to thrive in a variety of different environments, ranging from tropical rainforests to desert landscapes. 

They prefer living in the rainforest due to the humid air, more hiding spots to avoid predators, and abundance of prey. 

As they are naturally talented swimmers, they live near water sources like rivers and streams.

Boa constrictors are generally pretty calm creatures. 

They live on their own and are nocturnal. 

Younger boa constrictors enjoy climbing trees and shrubs, but most stay on the land as they grow older due to the heavy-weighted nature of their growth. 

For diet, they eat a variety of prey like mice, birds, lizards, and bats.

The older and larger they get, the larger prey animals they eat. 

They are known as ambush predators, meaning they patiently wait for prey to come to them before attacking. 

In areas with a lower density of prey, they will sometimes actively hunt at night. 

Their name makes their hunting style obvious; before consuming their prey, boa constrictors will constrict their prey until death, suffocating them, so no blood flow can reach their vital organs. 

It takes boa constrictors around 4-6 days to fully digest their food, depending on the prey’s size and the conditions of the surrounding environment. 

One incredibly unique quality about boa constrictors is they’re viviparous, meaning they give birth to live young. 

Their reproduction is generally sexual, with only a few cases of asexual reproduction. 

After copulation, females can hold sperm for up to one year. In captivity, boa constrictors can live anywhere from 20 to 30 years.

Anaconda

Anacondas are also known as water boas. 

The most well-known anaconda is the common or green anaconda. 

This is the largest snake in the world in terms of weight and can weigh up to 550 pounds. 

It’s the second in terms of length, with reticulated pythons being longer. 

Anacondas can still grow to be up to 30′ feet (9 m) long and over 12″ inches (30.5 cm) in diameter. 

Like boa constrictors, female anacondas are larger than males.

Regarding the living environment, anacondas live in wet areas like swamps, marshes, and slow-moving streams. 

They also are found naturally in South America, specifically in the tropical rainforests of the Amazon and Orinoco basins. 

While you may not predict it from their size, anacondas are fantastic swimmers. 

Their eyes and nostrils are located higher up on their heads, allowing them to submerge themselves in the water without losing sight or breathing while hunting prey.

Their diet is very different from boa constrictors. 

Rather than feasting on small to medium-sized mammals or birds, anacondas target much larger prey. 

They often eat a diet of wild pigs, deer, turtles, capybaras, and caimans. 

There have been instances of anacondas taking on even larger animals like jaguars. 

Like boa constrictors, anacondas also use constriction to suffocate their prey before consumption. 

They can often wait months between meals, as one large animal will take time to digest and will provide sufficient nutrients for months at a time.

While anacondas give birth to live babies just like boa constrictors, their mechanism is slightly different. 

Anacondas are ovoviviparous, meaning their babies grow in eggs, but those eggs are retained within the mom until the time of birth. 

Those eggs hatch within the mama anaconda and the babies are then birthed live into the world. 

In the wild, they can live for up to 10 years. 

They can live for up to 30 years in captivity, but this is not a snake species to keep as a pet.

The Differences Between Boa Constrictors and Anacondas

Here’s a helpful table summarizing the differences between boa constrictors and anacondas:

QualityBoa ConstrictorAnaconda
LengthUp to 10′ feet (3 m)Up to 30′ feet (9 m)
WeightAround 35 poundsUp to 550 pounds
EnvironmentSouth America, but can survive in variety of climatesSouth America, but stays around wet environments
DietMice, birds, lizards, batsPigs, deer, turtles, capybara, caimans
Hunting MechanismConstrictionConstriction
Birth of BabiesViviparousOvoviviparous
Lifespan in CaptivityUp to 30 yearsUp to 30 years

Conclusion

Though some similarities belong to the same family, boa constrictors and anacondas are two very different snake species. 

Hopefully, this article clarifies the difference between a boa constrictor and anaconda, but it’s obvious they’re both pretty phenomenal creatures.

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