The Old World Sand Boas
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The Old World Sand Boas

The Sand Boas, Old world sand Boas
       Commonly known as Old World Sand Boas, snakes belonging to the family Boidae and subfamily Erycinae are non-venomous snakes with a bit unique appearance. Unlike most snakes, their heads seemed attached to the body without distinction or bulbous appearance. They look more like oversized worms with skin patches or eels from the sand. These snakes are endemic in Europe, Asia Minor, Africa, Arabia, India, Sri Lanka and Western North America. These family of snakes are made up of three genera composed of 15 species.

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1. Egyptian Sand Boa – Commonly called Egyptian Sand Boa, Kenyan Sand Boa or East African Sand Boa depending upon the region where they could be found, Gongylophis colubrinus rarely reach 2 feet in length (61 cm). Heavily built like other sand boas, they have small eyes, small heads and short tails. Color patterns on the skin may vary from yellow or orange overlaid by dark brown splotches with the belly white or cream colored. These snakes prefer semi desert or scrub savannahs with sandy soil. Spending most of their time in shallow burrows, these snakes prey on small mammals passing along while their heads are exposed from their burrows.

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2. Calabar Boa - Commonly found in west and central Africa, this snake was often regarded as a member of the family Pythonidae but later moved to Charina in 1993. Calabar Boas (Charina reinhardtii) are known by many common names like burrowing boa, two-headed boa and Calabaria among others. Their heads which are almost identical to their tails earned them the name two headed boa. Maximum length of adults reach more than 1 m (3.2 feet). These snakes thrive on rodents which they invade in burrows. Unlike other sand boas, these snakes prefer loose rainforest soil and leaf litters from trees tunneling through it instead of sand. Their reaction of curling in to a ball when threatened make them almost identical to the Royal Python (P. regius) if the act of making their tails as a decoy in place of their heads doesn’t work.

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3. Javelin Sand Boa - Javelin Sand Boas (Eryx jaculus) are snakes found in Southeastern Europe, Northern Africa, Middle East and Southwestern Asia and also commonly named the Spotted Sand Boa. One of the 8 species in the genus Eryx, the Javelin reaches a maximum length of 32 inches (2 feet 8 in).

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4. Roughed Scaled Sand Boa - Mostly reaching maximum length of 3 ft 3 inches (99 cm) Roughed Scaled Boas (Gongylophis conicus) differ a bit from other sand boas owing to the distinction of their heads unlike other sand boas. Found in Eastern Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, they are often mistaken for a python species, P. Molurus or the deadly Russel’s viper Daboia russelii which are found all over India, the latter which is among the big four venomous snakes in the region.


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Comments (10)

Scary snakes!

They look threatening. Good info here. Re tweeted Will.

I know a lot of people are scared of snakes.. and while I personally would not want to own one, they are amazing animals.

Added info about snakes. Excellent post!

this one is a pretty one, but he looks kind of mean

cool snake

Excellent article Will! Wonderfully presented and well researched. I have to admit though most of them are reasonably small they still make me shudder. Voted tweeted and facebooked my friend.

Cool looking snakes!

I'm really scared of snakes but your article makes me realize how amazing they are.

Really interesting article. Some of them look like legless lizards. I wonder if they're closely related.