The colours of the jungle

Every day living in the MLC biological field station is an adventure, as proof of this, on the night of June 6th, we found a rainbow boa in the vicinity of the research station! We are especially lucky, because we managed to find the same species twice this month! 

The second boa was found during one of our projects, the visual encounter survey, on June 22. This is a nocturnal survey focused on arboreal and semi-arboreal amphibians and reptiles, in which we found a juvenile rainbow boa on T2, the closest trail to the MLC, in the most impacted area, the completely cleared forest now in regeneration.

The scientific name of this boa is Epicrates Cenchria, and it is classified at least concern according to the IUCN. Meaning, that the population trend is now stable. The main threats for this animal are the cultivation of non-timber crops, livestock farming, ranching and the illegal pet trade. This boa lives in the Amazonian and Atlantic rainforests. 

We can find this snake in primary, secondary, disturbed forest (rural urban habitations, agriculture areas) and near water bodies. It is usually terrestrial but may be observed in bushes and low branches of trees when resting or hunting.

Snakes have an important role in the food chain, because they are prey for birds, mammals or other reptiles, however they are also predators. They help control the population of some species that are considered pests (insects, rodents and others) preventing overfeeding upon food items found within the lower levels of the food chain. 

Did you know that the boas have vestigial (no longer functional) legs? In fact, some snakes have spurs, which are vestigial remains of their locomotive limbs. We can find these diminished limbs near the cloaca. This characteristic teaches us about their evolutionary path throughout history and time in existence!

Story of the month 

Environmental Engineer Luis Echevarria – Junior Field Staff

MSc. Joseph Oakley – Senior Field Staff