On the 2nd
December, in the opening days of the first Project Chicchan
winter expedition, a boa constrictor was found at the bottom of the stairs leading to the volunteer dorms. It was about the same size as the previous two we had found in November, and one of the new borns of 2013. This one however was very thin, you could see the vertebrae and ribs under the skin, and not very strong.
We measured, weighed and marked this young female (550 mm in length and 40.6g). The next we photographed her and released her, in the same place we had found her the night before. We all hoped that she would find some food soon.
Just over three weeks later, on the 20th
December, another young boa was found 1.5m up in a tree on the side of the path that runs behind the office and lab at Las Guacamayas
.It was the same female boa.
She looked in much better condition than before, we took a few more photographs and let her be. Over the next week or so she was seen multiple times in different positions in the same line of trees. Then on the 29th December, the day before the end of the second winter expedition, she was seen hanging from a thin branch by her tail. The rest of her body hung down and was wrapped around what appeared to be a female red-capped manakin that she was eating.
We watched her from a distance so as not to disturb her and marveled at how strong she was and how she was able to move around to help her move the body of the bird she was eating into her mouth.
She continued to eat as we watched in awe for about 30 minutes then, as she moved her coils to adjust her position, she ended up hanging straight down from the branch. She was exhausted and unable to lift the weight of her body and the bird (that was hanging from her mouth) back up into a secure method. After a few minutes like this she fell with a thump to the ground.
We gasped with shock and hoped she had not hurt herself in the fall. Upon a closer inspection she seemed to be ok, but our next concern was that she might abandon her meal. We left her alone and asked the workers at the station to avoid using that path so she wouldn’t be disturbed.
We went back to the lab to work with some other snakes that we had caught the night before. Every 15 minutes or so one of us went to check to see how she was doing, and after a few checks she was eating enthusiastically. We all breathed a sigh of relief and went back to work. Later that afternoon we checked again and she was nowhere to be seen.
I hope we will see her again over the next few weeks and months and with any luck she will stay around the station grounds until adulthood. Only time will tell…
Published : 3rd January 2014