Dumeril’s boa (Acrantophis dumerili)

Also known as: Madagascar ground boa
French: Boa de Duméril, Boa des savanes de Duméril
GenusAcrantophis (1)
SizeAdult length: 180 - 210 cm (2)

Dumeril’s boa is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1), and is listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).

Dumeril’s boa (Acrantophis dumerili) is a relatively large, heavy-bodied, ground-dwelling snake. It is intricately patterned in brown, tan and black, and has glossy black markings around the mouth, with its mottled colouration providing excellent camouflage when lying in the leaf litter of its dry forest habitat (2) (4). Some individuals of Dumeril’s boa exhibit large amounts of pink or copper colouration (2). 

Dumeril’s boa is endemic to Madagascar, where it is widespread in the south and southwest of the island, up to elevations of 1,300 metres (1) (2).

Dumeril’s boa is found in dry forest and thorn bushes at low and mid-elevations. It is also found in savannas on the central highlands (1), but is not restricted to pristine habitats (5). It has been found living in degraded habitats, often close to villages, where it presumably feeds on rats (5).

The adult Dumeril’s boa is cathemeral, whereas juveniles are mostly nocturnal. This species is an ambush predator (4), with a diet consisting mainly of terrestrial vertebrates such as mammals and birds, as well as domestic poultry (1) (4), which are all killed by constriction (4). Dumeril’s boa lacks the heat-sensitive facial pits present in many other boas, which are used to detect warm-blooded prey (4).

Dumeril’s boa is viviparous, giving birth to litters of 6 to 13 live, relatively large young (1) (4) (6). The gestation period of this species is approximately seven months (2). 

In some areas, this snake is collected for food and its skin is used for leather (5). It is also killed due to the belief that it is bad luck and is likely to predate domestic chickens (1). Dumeril’s boa is also highly desirable in the pet trade (5). This adaptable snake appears to be able to withstand the degradation of forest habitat, and is not currently considered to be highly threatened (1). 

Dumeril’s boa is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that international trade in wild specimens is banned (3). Furthermore, it occurs in a number of nature reserves and so receives a level of protection in these areas. Local consumption of Dumeril’s boa for food is unlikely to severely threaten this species while international trade is banned. The habitat of Dumeril’s boa is also under threat due to habitat destruction for agriculture and livestock grazing (5).

More information on the ecology and distribution of Dumeril’s boa is needed to aid in its conservation (1). 

More information on Dumeril’s boa and reptile conservation:

Authenticated (10/02/2006) by Dr. Tony Phelps, Squamate Ecologist and founder of the Cape Reptile Institute.

  1. IUCN Red List (December, 2011)
  2. Wagner, D. (1996) Boas. Barron’s Educational Series, New York.
  3. CITES (December, 2011)
  4. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  5. Vences, M. and Glaw, F. (2003) Phylogeography, systematics and conservation status of boid snakes from Madagascar (Sanzinia and Acrantophis). Salamandra, 39: 181-206.
  6. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.