One would typically not associate the words rainbow and snake in the same sentence. Believe it or not, there is a rainbow snake found locally! It is called the rainbow boa and most of us have seen one of its kind at one point or the other in our lives.
When one encounters a rainbow boa, it may not look anything close to a what its name describes. Out of the sunshine, the rainbow boa has a uniform brown colour throughout most of its body. However, magic occurs when this reptile slithers into the sunlight!—all colours of a rainbow reflect off of its skin! It is truly a stunning sight!
What is the science behind this phenomenon?—There are tiny ridges on the scales of the snake which act like prisms. These ridges refract sunlight and this accounts for the rainbow-coloured effect on the snake’s body!
Sammy, the rainbow boa at our local zoo, has grown quite popular as this snake ambassador for education, when handled in the bright natural light, his true iridescent sheen is revealed.
Although found residing in forested areas, this snake species is quite often spotted near our homes, schools or workplaces as development continues to encroach on wild habitats. No need to be alarmed, however, as the rainbow boa is non-venomous by nature and means no harm. Once left undisturbed, this beautiful serpent would have no reason to defend itself. Many times, the rainbow boa, which can reach an average of up to three to five feet in length, when startled, slithers away to safety.
The rainbow boa, like other snake types, is a critical component of our local ecosystems. Not only do these constrictors feed on small animals such as birds and lizards, but also act as a natural pest control of rats and mice.
Another interesting fact about this rainbow snake is that, unlike most snake types, females give birth to live young. Eggs are produced, however, they are retained inside the mother’s body until hatching occurs, so that live offspring are then born. Young are fully developed and independent within minutes of birth. The babies exhibit noticeable markings throughout their bodies which fade as they grow.
It must be noted that, not only is the rainbow boa remarkable to look at in the sunlight, but is also a locally protected species. Being mainly nocturnal, this boa would be most active at night and retreat to mostly staying hidden during the day. If one is spotted on your property, the necessary authorities should be contacted for the safe removal and relocation of this local gem to a wild habitat away from human habitation.
Snakes are not normally a favourite among many, but the rainbow boa is worth the view. So next time you cross path with one of these animals, hope the sun is out in all its glory, so you can catch a glimpse of the glitz and glamour of our local beauty of a snake!
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