How Fast Can A Boa Constrictor Move?

Do boa constrictors chase down their prey before putting on the squeeze?

Could you outrun this giant snake if you came across one in the wild?

Boa constrictors are dangerous if not handled correctly. 

If you own one, it’s best to know where it is at all times and what it’s capable of. 

When you let your snake out, you may wonder: 

How fast can a boa constrictor move?

A boa constrictor moves only 1 mile per hour on open ground, but it may go considerably faster when swimming.

how fast can boa constrictors move

How Fast Do Boa Constrictors Move?

In this section, we’ll look at why boas are slow and how fast they move in different formats. 

In general, their ground speed is 1 mile per hour, but this changes depending on other factors. 

This section goes into more interesting details on the movement process. 

Why Are Boa Constrictors Slow?

Boa constrictors are some of the largest snakes in the world. 

They can grow between 8 and 13′ feet (3.9 m), and they weigh between 13 and 60 pounds.

Their enormous size is the main reason why they’re slow. 

Their lack of speed doesn’t cause them too many problems, though, since they don’t chase their food and have ways of defending themselves. 

They don’t need to move quickly.

How Fast Can A Boa Constrictor Swim?

Boa constrictors are agile swimmers, but they generally prefer to stay dry.

No one has measured a swimming boa constrictor’s speed, although people have observed them in the water. 

They are said to swim much faster than they can move on land, and some believe they can swim faster than humans.

Since no one has yet measured a boa constrictor’s swimming speed, it might be tempting to give it a shot. 

But we highly recommend you leave it to the professionals!

How Fast Can A Boa Constrictor Move Through Trees?

Boa constrictors are the slowest of all the arboreal snakes. 

They are just as slow in trees, if not slower than they are on the ground.

This is partially due to its size. 

However, it’s also due to their anatomy.

Boa constrictors don’t have keels, which are sharp edges on the sides of their bellies. 

This means they can’t grip onto irregularities in surfaces like tree branches the way many other tree snakes do.

Boa constrictors can move at their quickest speeds when they’re on thick, taut branches. 

They need reliable support while they’re hanging out in trees.

How Fast Can A Boa Constrictor Move In Cold Weather?

Boa constrictors become less active, the colder the temperature gets. 

They will not move much when it’s cold, perhaps only doing so to flick their tongue or get a drink of water.

All snakes are cold-blooded; they can’t regulate or maintain a consistent body temperature the way mammals do. 

This means they need heat sources from their outside environment to stay alive.

If temperatures drop enough, a boa constrictor will become torpid

The onset of torpor is very dangerous for snakes. 

A torpid boa constrictor won’t move or react to anything at all, and if it isn’t able to raise its body temperature, it’s in danger of death.

What Are The Different Ways Boa Constrictors Move?

There are four main modes of snake locomotion. 

MovementGeneral speedDescription
Sidewinding1 mphThrash and jump from side to side (not used by boas)
Serpentine>1 mphSlither from side to side (good for swimming)
Concertina<1 mphMove forward with body arching upwards (good for climbing)
Rectilinear1 mphBody compresses and shoots forward in a straight line (common for boas)


One, known as sidewinding, is when a snake thrashes and practically jumps, only touching the ground at a few points on its body. 

Boas don’t use this form of movement because of their large size and because their environment doesn’t require them to do so.

Serpentine (Lateral Undulation)

When snakes lay flat on the ground, form S-shaped curves, and use ground friction or objects to push themselves forward, it’s known as serpentine locomotion.  

This is the most common way snakes move.

Boa constrictors are capable of it, but on dry land, they rarely use it. 

They do, however, swim using serpentine motions. 

Concertina (Accordion)

This mode of locomotion is named after the snake’s body shape. 

When it’s moving, it looks like an accordion or a concertina.

Boa constrictors use concertina movements to climb trees.

The snake will coil up to create a stable, anchored base with its body. 

Then it will extend its upper body forward, straightening out until it pulls itself up to the next steady branch. 

Then it will coil itself up again and repeat the movement.

Rectilinear Progression

This is a less-common form of locomotion among all the snake species, but it’s very common for large snakes like boas and pythons.

This is when a snake moves in a straight line, without pushing off objects or wiggling from side to side.

Rectilinear progression allows boa constrictors to stealthy attack its prey. 

And since boas eat animals like rodents, moving in a straight line allows them to slither into a confined and narrow space like their prey’s burrow.

Can Boa Constrictors Move In A Straight Line?

No, snakes don’t have legs! 

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Large snakes like boa constrictors propel themselves forward by using their incredibly powerful muscles and their ventral scales, an integral part of snakes’ anatomy.

Ventral scales are the scales on the snake’s belly. 

They run from just below the head to the cloaca at the base of the snake’s tail, and they play a crucial role in rectilinear progression for boa constrictors. 

The scales on a boa constrictor’s belly acts like treads on a tire. 

A snake will tighten its ribs, slightly lifting its ventral scales by unflattening them against its belly.

The ventral scales then grip the ground, and the snake’s lower muscles push the snake forward. 

This movement happens in an undulating motion from head to tail, with different parts of the snake inching forward at different times.

Meanwhile, the snake’s upper antagonistic muscles pull the snake’s backbone, opposite of the lower belly muscles. 

This means the vertebrae are continually moving forward, even when the snake’s belly is stopping for a moment to grip the ground.


Now you know how fast a boa constrictor moves. 

Boa constrictors are pretty slow creatures, but at no real cost to them. 

They do just fine without moving at high speeds – they get plenty to eat, and they have many ways of getting around.

Their variety of locomotion methods is just another way snakes are incredible creatures, worthy of our fascination and respect!

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