Boa, Brazillian Rainbow

Epicrates cenchria chenchria  

The Brazilian rainbow boa is a round-bodied terrestrial boa of medium build. The head is not particularly large, but it is distinctly wider than the neck. It is soft-skinned with great iridescence in its skin. Brazilian rainbow boas are brown or reddish brown. There are three parallel black stripes on the top of the head and large black rings down the back that give the appearance of dorsal blotches. The round lateral blotches are black with an orange or reddish crescent across the top. There is a great deal of variation in color and marking among individuals of this species.  Adult males have substantially larger spurs along the side of the vent and also have noticeably thicker bases of their tails due to the invaginated hemipenes. These boas range from 3.25 to 6.5 feet (1 to 2 m) in length.








Amazon Basin, and in coastal Guyana, French Guyana, and Suriname and southern Venezuela


Near rivers, streams, lakes and swamps, in humid woodland forests and sometimes found in open savannas

Life Expectancy

Up to 20 years in captivity

Sexual Maturity

2.5 to 4 years of age


In the wild they eat rodents, birds, and possibly aquatic life and lizards.




Brazilian rainbow boas are terrestrial, shy and nocturnal boa constrictors. Males may breed at four feet (1.2 m) and females at 4.5 feet (1.4 m). Gestation lasts about five months. Brazilian rainbow offspring are born live in litters of two to 35. On average a litter contains twelve to 25 babies that are 15 to 20 inches (38 to 51 cm) long. Yearlings often grow to four feet (1.2 m) in length, though 36 to 40 inches (91 to 100 cm) is more typical. Females seem to eat more and grow larger than males.


Special Interests

Rainbow boas are so named because of the iridescent sheen imparted by microscopic ridges on their scales, which act like prisms to refract light into rainbows. Nine subspecies of rainbow boas have been identified, and the Brazilian rainbow boa is the largest of the subspecies.


The Brazilian Rainbow Boa was part of the Jacksonville Zoo’s collection from 1966 to 1969, and then re-entered our collection in 1983 and has been part of our inventory ever since.


Jacksonville Zoo History


Range of the Jaguar