The Pacific Boa – Master of Camouflage –
The Pacific boa (Candoia bibroni) is a non-venomous snake endemic to Melanesia and Polynesia with a range extending from parts of the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji through to Samoa and American Samoa.
Sometimes referred to as the Fiji boa or the Pacific tree boa, this species is a small type of boa constrictor that crushes its prey to death using its body as a constrictive coil.
It is believed to prey upon lizards, rats as well as small birds and their eggs.
Pacific boa population numbers are thought to be consistently underestimated as these snakes are true masters of camouflage, thanks to their disruptive colour patterning – which can range from red to almost black.
This colour variation has, at times, led people to believe that they are different species but currently there is no evidence to suggest that this is the case.
Unlike pythons which lay eggs, the Pacific boa gives birth to live young which, endearingly, are independent from birth and simply wriggle off to lead their own lives.
This trait may have contributed to the Pacific boa surviving the introduction of egg-loving mongooses to Fiji, whereas many bird species were not so fortunate.
The harmless Pacific boa looks a lot like another snake species – the brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis), which has had an absolutely devastating impact on native birds and bats in other parts of the Pacific, especially on Guam.
Thankfully, the similarity between the two snakes stops at their visual appearance.
In Samoa it is highly unusual to see Pacific boas on Upolu but they are still found on Savai'i. These snakes pose no threat to humans aside from potentially giving them a fright! If you are lucky enough to see one, we suggest you enjoy the experience before leaving it in peace.
Source: Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P).