Boa constrictor swallows goat, bites off more than it can chew

Forest authorities in Hainan have confirmed that a boa constrictor has died after attempting to swallow a 35 kg mountain goat, the boa itself was estimated to weigh only 25 kg. The 4.3 meter long snake was discovered alive by Farmer Fu Shushuai early Monday morning with an extremely distended midsection and a quick count of his livestock confirmed a missing goat.

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Boa constrictors are a national protected species in China so Farmer Fu enlisted the help of some of the villagers to bag the snake and suspend it from a tree before contacting the forestry bureau. Despite attempts to save the snake it died on route to the local wildlife station.

According to Mr. Fu, this isn’t the first goat to go missing, since September at least 12 goats have disappeared. His pens are located close to Tongguling Nature Reserve where it is suspected the snake made the journey for an easy meal.

Boa constrictors generally live on their own, and are nocturnal, but they may bask during the day when night-time temperatures are too low. Young boas may climb into trees and shrubs to forage; however, they become mostly terrestrial as they become older and heavier.

Prey includes a wide variety of small to medium-sized mammals and birds. The bulk of their diet consists of rodents, but larger lizards and mammals as big as young goats are also reported to have been consumed. Young boa constrictors eat small mice, birds, bats, lizards, and amphibians. The size of the prey item increases as they get older and larger.

Boa constrictors are ambush predators, so often lie in wait for an appropriate prey to come along. However, they have also been known to actively hunt, particularly in regions with a low concentration of suitable prey, and this behaviour generally occurs at night.