Feb 08

2013: Year of the Snake

I hope everyone has been enjoying the new year thus far! February 10 marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year and 2013 is the Year of the Snake. We have some pretty cool snakes in our collection so in honor of this, I’d like to tell you about our two largest snakes.

Bob is our Common boa constrictor. He is around 7 feet long and almost 20 pounds. This species of snake can grow to be between 8 and 10 feet long and up to 60 pounds. Boas may have the longest life span of all snakes, with many living 35 or more years. Bob turns 21 this year. This species is native to Central and South America. Boas have pits on their faces that sense heat, allowing them to detect body heat from prey. They are nocturnal hunters, so this is how they find food in the dark.

Bob, Common boa constrictor

Cleopatra is our Burmese python. She is about 15 feet long and 115 pounds. These snakes can reach lengths of 15 to 20 feet and a weight of about 200 pounds, making them one of the largest snake species in the world. Cleo is about 18 years old, and she could live over 20 years. They are native to Southeast Asia.

Cleo, Burmese python

Cleo is one of our many rescued animal ambassadors. Sometimes people buy large snakes to keep as pets, but unfortunately must give them up. Snakes of this size don’t make the best pets and one of the main reasons why is that they require a large habitat, which most people are unable to provide. Snakes are very cool animals and many people enjoy having a pet snake, but it is very important to do your research and find out how large a snake can get, how much and how often the snake needs to eat, etc.Speaking of what snakes eat, that is one of the most frequently asked questions that I get about all of our snakes. Bob eats a large rat every three weeks and Cleo eats a large rabbit every four weeks. Doesn’t sound like much does it? Because snakes are cold-blooded, they don’t burn a lot of calories to keep themselves warm like warm-blooded animals do. You could say that they have a slow metabolism, so it takes them much longer to digest food than say, us.

Cleo in the “Wild Days” presentation

If you’d like to see Bob, Cleo or one of our other smaller snakes, come on by the Wild Reserve this spring on a nice warm day. Busch Gardens will be opening for the season on March 17.