Are rubber boas friendly?

The rubber boa (Charina bottae) is a small non-venomous snake at the family Boidae, native to the Western United States and Southwestern Canada.

The rubber boa is one of only 2 kinds of boas native into the United States, the other is the rosy boa (Lichanura trivirgata). The species is also known as even the coastal rubber boa or the northern rubber boa.

Their range extends from the Pacific Coast west to southern Utah and Montana as far north as southern British Columbia from Canada as far south as the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains in California.

Beside the states where their presence is broadly known Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho there were some rare sightings in Colorado and Alberta.

The rubber boa occupies a wide variety of habitats which range from meadows and chaparral, grasslands to deciduous and conifer woods and even high alpine settings. Contrary to snake kinds they don’t occupy regions with climates hot and dry, preferring moist habitats and are not very conducive to higher temperatures.

But they could live and flourish in surprisingly cold areas, especially for snakes, so for This Reason rubber boas can be found from sea level to elevations up to 10,000 feet (3,000 m). ​ During the winter months, rubber boas locate a burrow to hibernate until the spring when warmer temperatures return.​

The rubber boa is mostly nocturnal but probably is also active during dawn and dusk, that one reason that leads to how seldom they are seen. They spend the majority of their time beneath shelters in animal burrows or stones, logs, leaf litter.

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The rubber boa at the most northerly of all boa species and one of the smallest members of the boa family.

Little is a little bit of an understatement when comparing these to their much bigger relatives native to south America, which include among others the emerald tree boa, boa constrictor, and the giant green anaconda.

The rubber boa as a little, stout, sleek and shiny body using an ordinary span ranging from 14 to 33 inches (38 to 85 cm), females are usually slightly more than men.

They’ve brief blunt heads no wider than the body with small eyes together and vertical elliptical students. Their coloration ranges from tan to dark brown but occasionally they’re olive-green, yellow, or orange.

The species scientific name Charina comes from the Greek word for graceful or delightful and the name bottae in honor of an Italian ship’s surgeon, explorer and naturalist Dr. Paolo E. Botta. They get their name from their sleek and shiny skin and wrinkled or loose appearance giving them a rubbery like feel and appearance.

​Birds of prey, raccoons, ravens, coyotes, skunks, moles, cats even other snakes are known predators and any reasonably sized freshwater animal present in their habitat is a possible predator to its rubber boa.

Unlike the majority of other snake species, rubber boas never use striking because of defense mechanism

rubber boa

Being a non-venomous snake, when threatened the rubber boa buries its head and coils its body into a ball, leaving the tail, that resembles a head, subjected. The rubber boa will also emit an overpowering musk odor to more ward off predators.

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Due to the rubber boa amazingly docile behaviour, this species often used with kids or to help people conquer their fear of snakes. When picked up, rubber boas can gently wrap around the person’s wrist.
Taxonomy / Subspecies

Like most other creatures, the taxonomic classification of the rubber boa is unclear and under debate.

Back in 1920, 3 subspecies were described Pacific rubber boa (C.b. bottae), Great Basin rubber boa (C.b. utahensis) and Southern Californian rubber boa (C.b. umbratica) from Van Denburgh. However, these were not accepted.

Nowadays scientists disagree on whether the southern rubber boa (Charina umbratica) needs to be a separate species or only considered a subspecies (C. b. umbratica).

Diet / Feeding

The rubber boa is a slowish small snake that feeds chiefly on young nestling mammals like voles, shrews, deer mice among others. They are hunters.

But though small rodents are their preferred prey, rubber boas will eat lizards and snake eggs, lizards, young birds and bats and on occasion even snakes.

If they do locate nestling rodents they will eat the entire litter when given the opportunity.
The rubber boa will use its tail to divert any attacks from the mother, holding the attacker with”bogus strikes” of this tail. That’s why they have extensive scarring in their tails.


The mating season occurs just after the rubber boa stems from hibernation in the spring. The boa is an species, meaning females give birth to live young. But a lot of females will only reproduce giving birth up to 9 youthful, everywhere from August to November.

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They are born with around 7 to 9 inches and attain maturity at about 2-3 years of age. Young snakes seem but seem pink and somewhat translucent darkening with age.

Conservation / Threats

The rubber boa is a common species with a wholesome population throughout their wide selection and is listed as Least Concern from the IUCN. The species is listed on CITES Appendix II.

The most important threat to the species come from over-collection for your pet trade, although it is now illegal to market wild-caught rubber boas in the USA.

However among the suggested subspecies the southern rubber boa (C. b. umbratica) inhabitants is probably declining due to habitat loss and degradation due to logging, wood collecting, smog and hotel development. It is listed as threatened and protected by California law.