The Rosy Boa of Cayos Cochinos

It is one of the Endemic Species of Honduras, a family of the Boa Constrictor found in northern Honduras in Cayos Cochinos.
The Rosy Boa of Cayos Cochinos

The Rosy Boa also known as Boa Constrictor Imperator is an Endemic Species of Honduras . It suffers from predation by poaching for sale to collectors and is an endangered species.

According to scientists, it is more like its Roatan counterpart than the species that lives on dry land. Their migration is believed to have occurred thousands of years ago at a time when the islands were connected by land.

Where is it located?

La Rosy Boa inhabits only the two islands of Cayos Cochinos known as Cayo Mayor and Cayo Menor. Her closest relatives live on the mainland and on the island of Roatan; All these animal species have a lot of genetic similarity, although they are not identical. Several scientists have conducted research to determine the characteristics of this unique species from Honduras.

Dr. Steve Green, scientist and highest authority on the subject, genetically analyzed the boas of Cayos Cochinos, Roatan, Utila and mainland; He thinks there are several ways how the boas could get there. Research has come to propose that this reptile, which has a pinkish coloration as a camouflage strategy in the vegetation, may have arrived aboard a tree trunk floating from the mainland.

But their strongest hypothesis is that thousands of years ago, when the islands were connected to the mainland, boas were able to travel freely through a land corridor that connected the Bay Islands to the mainland. Later, the water covered this corridor, leaving some isolated boas in Cayos Cochinos where they have evolved, adapting to the conditions offered by the natural environment.

Characteristics

It differs from the Boa constrictor in its substantially lighter shade: a pinkish-gray shade for which it gets its name and which is due to a reduction in melanin that causes a lighter shade. Its tail retains a distinctive darker color, ranging from orange to pink salmon.It is a smaller species, the female can measure up to 1.2 meters and the male almost one meter.

Reproduction

The Boa constrictor not lay eggs: they are viviparous, giving birth to 10 to 64 pups at a time, usually in the months from March to August. The biologist Leonel Marineros in his book “Serpents of Honduras”, cites the testimony of Adonis Cubas, who worked at the scientific station, who found between March and July newborn rosy boas cooling in streams of both Cays [3]. Perhaps the coincidence is because they belong to the same species.

There is currently general agreement that the rosy boa of the Cayos Cochinos is part of the Boa constrictor

Scientific Investigations

In 1991 Price and Russo suggested that smaller boas from both Cayos Cochinos and the Bay Islands could be of a different species than the constrictor . They were right? It is a topic that is still discussed.

James McCranie, author of the most up-to-date and comprehensive work on snakes in Honduras, mentions that Boback and Carpenter in 2007 demonstrated that the notable differences in head size and shape between the populations of the Boa constrictor of the Belize and Continental Keys they were an adaptation to available food sources. It concludes that, being Belize a close country, the same factor probably influences the boas of Cayos Cochinos [1]. Although there is no evidence, we can suspect that color is also caused by the same reason.

Montgomery, Boback and collaborators consider the rosy boa a Boa constrictor of the subspecies imperator, but a dwarf. They also say that due to their color and docility, (they are much less aggressive than continental boas) the brutal trafficking in pets put them on the brink of extinction. They mention that in the early 1990s Wilson and Cruz Diaz, on a five-day herpetological exploration trip, did not find a single specimen [2].

History changed with the arrival in 1994 of what is now the Cayos Cochinos Foundation and the elevation of its status as a protected area in 2003 to the Cayos Cochinos Archipelago Marine Natural Monument. According to the same publication, in 2015 the population had grown to about 3,000 rosy boas, adding both Keys.

References

[1] McCranie, James R., “The snakes of Honduras”, Society for the study of amphibians and reptiles, 2011, p.63

[2] Montgomery, Chad E., Boback, Scott M. and other collaborators, “Cayos Cochinos Boa, Boa constrictor imperator”, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Tel Aviv, Twenty-eighth meeting of the Animals Committee, Tel Aviv (Israel), 30 August-3 September 2015, AC28 Inf. 7, p.1

[3] Marineros, Leonel, “Guide to Honduran snakes”, Author’s edition sponsored by the General Directorate of Biodiversity (DiBio), Secretariat of Natural Resources and Environment, SERNA), Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 2000, p.43

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