This month’s animal ambassador is our slithery snake friend, Gabe! Gabe is a rosy boa (Lichanura trivirgata) who we adopted last summer. The rosy boa species is part of the family boidae, which is a non-venomous snake family with species all over the world. One of the most famous family members is the boa constrictor which can be found in South and Central America. However here in North America there are only two native species from this family, the rubber boa and our very own – rosy boa.
The rosy boa is one of the smallest types of American non-poisonous snakes. Usually they grow anywhere between 17 and 44 inches long, and females tend to be larger than the males. It is unknown how long rosy boas can live for in the wild, but the average life span for captive rosy boas is over 20 years, however some have been documented to live for up to 50 years!
Rosy boas are known to make excellent pets as they typically have nice temperaments and handle well. They eat a diet primarily of mice which are easy to get from exotic pet shops (and as an occasional treat they do also enjoy small lizards or geckos!). One thing to be aware of is that rosy boas can be escape artists so it is very important to have a good and secure cage! Also as with most reptiles the rosy boa also requires a carefully controlled environment with a temperature gradient ranging from 65˚F to 90˚F which adjustment based on your rosy's preferences.
Rosy boas are beautiful snakes to look at, and they also have a lot of variation in their coloration depending upon its locale/ subspecies. They are called rosy boas because many from San Diego and Baja Mexico have a rosy color on their belly – however, other rosy boas aren’t rosy at all! As you can see in the below photo, the different subspecies can even look like different snakes.
It's important to note that Gabe is an educational animal ambassador at Zovargo and many people enjoy meeting him and learning how important in our world. Children of all ages are interested in holding and touching a snake. While he is a small/medium size snake, his docile nature makes him great for interactions. One can specially request Gabe for their school event or even their birthday party! Below are some images of Gabe interacting with some Zovargo event guests.
Gabe is a subspecies from the San Gabriel Mountains in California. If you happen to stumble across one of these uniquely marked snakes, remember that you are in its home. To not disturb them, you should stay on the marked trails and leave it be. Another tip on how to keep rosy boa’s and other animals safe is to not use any poison, pesticides or rodenticides as when these enter the food chain they can be very harmful to more than just the targeted pest. The State of California has listed the species status as “sensitive” and this is due to the negative impact from habitat fragmentation, roads and urbanization on the rosy boa populations, even inside natural reserves. This means they are stable for now but may need protection in the future.