Desert Rosy Boa

Desert Rosy Boa


Southwestern United States in the states of California and Arizona, and northwestern Mexico in the states of Baja California and Sonora.


This small ground boa inhabits arid, rocky scrub, brushlands and desert, particularly near streams, spring seeps and canyon floors. Desert rosy boas are found at elevations from sea level to 4,000 feet.


Coloration in rosy boas is highly variable, and usually locale-specific. The common name is derived from the rosy or salmon coloration that is common on the belly of rosy boas originating from coastal southern California and Baja Mexico. Most rosy boas do not have this ventral coloration but instead have a series of dark to orange spots on a light-colored background.

Almost all rosy boas have at least some trace of three longitudinal stripes, one down the center of the back, and two on the lower sides. The appearance of these stripes varies widely, from extremely straight and having high contrast with the interspaces, to extremely broken with almost no contrast with the interspaces. Stripe colors can be orange, maroon, rust, brown, or black. Interspace colors can be shades of light to dark gray, yellow, or tan.

Desert Rosy Boa

Rosy boas spend most of their lives concealed beneath rocks and in crevices to escape the elements and natural predators. Granite outcroppings are the most common geologic association inhabited by the rosy boa. Less often they are found in association with volcanic or other rock types. Only in rare places do rosy boas inhabit rockless environments. In areas with few rocks rosy boas will use rodent burrows for concealment.


Females normally give birth to three to 12 young; babies are independent from birth. The first shed usually occurs within seven to 10 days after birth. During their first year, young usually double in size. Newly born desert rosy boas range in size from 10-12 inches at birth.

Interesting Facts:
  • The rosy boa is one of only two species of boas in the United States. The other, the rubber boa, is widely distributed across the northwestern United State, extending northward into British Columbia.
  • The boa can inhale and exhale a large amount of air through its windpipe, creating a hissing sound that serves as a warning to potential enemies.

The desert rosy boa comes from the Mojave Desert, where it spends much of its life hiding in rock crevices, hunting for lizards and rodents. The desert rosy boa is very good-natured, and this makes them excellent candidates for pet reptiles. Although the desert rosy boa is strictly protected by California state law, poachers illegally hunt these animals for the pet trade, using crowbars to break open the crevices in which desert rosy boas live. Desert rosy boas, as all reptiles, play an important role in nature's web of life. Wild habitat needed by these reptiles, however, is quickly disappearing. The pet trade is also lowering the numbers of certain reptile populations, to the point where they may become extinct in the wild.

Did YOU Know?    
The rosy boa, colorful, gentle, moderate-sized and easy to feed and shelter, has become a favored pet among many enthusiasts.
Desert Rosy Boa
Class: reptiles
Order: Boidae
Family: Lichanura
Genus: Lichanura
Species: trivirgata
Length: 17-34 inches
Weight: 11-21 ounces
Average Lifespan: 18- 22 years
Wild Diet: Small mammals and birds
Where at the Zoo? Small Animal Building

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