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Madagascar Tree Boa

Sanzinia madagascariensis (also known as Boa manditra)


This medium-sized snake grows up to six to eight feet in length and weighs up to ten pounds In the eastern parts of its range its color is green to grey-green; in the western it is yellow, orange and/or brown.

Madagascar Tree Boa

Distribution and Habitat

This snake is unique to Madagascar, where it lives in forested areas near bodies of water.


Like other boas this species uses heat-sensitive pits around its mouth to find the small mammals, birds, reptiles, and frogs upon which it feeds. Prey is killed by constriction.


When pregnant a female's color darkens to provide increased heat absorption for the developing young; her color returns to normal at the next shed cycle. Up to sixteen live young are born after a gestation period of about six months. The red coloring of the young may serve to warn off predators, and/or to provide camouflage among brightly colored treetop flowers. Sexual maturity is reached at about three years.

Habits and Behaviors

As are almost all other boas, the Madagascar tree boa is nocturnal. Although this snake will bask in trees during the day, and usually hunts in the trees, it spends much of its time on the ground.

Conservation Status

The Madagascar tree boa is endangered due to increased farming and housing development, and is now found only in protected areas.

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Reptilia
order Squamata
suborder Serpentes
family Boidae
subfamily Boinae
genus & species Sanzinia madagascariensis

Recent studies have revealed that this species shares enough characteristics with the boa constrictor of Central and South America, as well as with the two other species of boas found on Madagascar, to justify placing all four species within the same genus. Therefore, some scientists have reclassifiied the Madagascar Tree Boa as Boa manditra, although most zoos and many other sources continue to use the genus/species designation used on this page.



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The Robinson Library >> Suborder Serpentes

This page was last updated on November 16, 2018.