Boas in Yucatan

One of the most beautiful and interesting things you will discover while visiting the impressive Mayan city of Chichen Itza, in the Yucatan, is the ubiquitous presence of the snake: as columns, in low-reliefs, in frescoes and in the majestic stairway

One of the most beautiful and interesting things you will discover while visiting the impressive Mayan city of Chichen Itza, in the Yucatan, is the ubiquitous presence of the snake: as columns, in low-reliefs, in frescoes and in the majestic stairway of El Castillo. They are representations of the god Kukulcan or the Feathered Serpent, synthesis of two central figures in the Mayan religion: the snake and the quetzal.

Opposite to the Jewish-Christian tradition, for the Maya the snake represented mother earth, agriculture, fertility and all the wisdom that these concepts involve. The artistic sensibility shown by the Maya to represent this animal is amazing, and it is not casualty: Yucatán has the Yucatecan or Cancun Boa in its rich wildlife, showing off grey, ocher and black elegant patterns on its flaky skin.

Yucatecan Boa is an species from the boidae family, sister to the Boa Constrictor and the Anaconda from South America, relatives to the python family from the Eastern hemisphere. All of them belong to the group of the henophydia, characterized by their large size (although the ones living in islands tend to be smaller) and for not being venemous. Despite its imposing appearance, boas do not represent any harm to humans.

The name boa comes from the Latin word “bos”, meaning cow. Such a name is due to the myth that said boas sucked up complete cows. All boas kill their prey by suffocation: they roll up around its body and they squeeze it. Just as any other kind of snake, boas swallow their prey completely by dislocating their jaws to let such a big mouthful in. Yucatecan Boa is a night hunter, its diet includes iguanas, monkeys and some local rodents called tlacuaches, mainly.

Yucatecan Boas measure up to 2 meters and they live in humid areas of the peninsula. Females tend to be longer than their male counterparts. Weather is supposed to play an important role in their mating, females become fertile during the hot-humid season. They are ovoviviparous, meaning that once the eggs are fertilized they keep them in their bodies until the babies are born. Hatching lasts from 2 to 3 months and they get to lay 100 eggs in one season.

Their astonishing size, the elegance of their appearance and their docile character have enticed humans to have them as pets, or hunt them in order to produce items with their skin. Their number in the wild has decreased alarmingly. It is considered as an endangered species nowadays. When you see one, do not fear and do as Mayans did: respect it.

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