AskDefine | Define boa

Dictionary Definition



1 a long thin fluffy scarf of feathers or fur [syn: feather boa]
2 any of several chiefly tropical constrictors with vestigial hind limbs

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Any of a group of large American snakes, of the genus Boa, including the boa constrictor, the emperor boa of Mexico, and the chevalier boa of Peru.
  2. A type of scarf typically made from feathers.


  • Albanian: boa
  • Finnish: boa
  • French: boa
  • Italian: boa
  • Polish: boa
  • Portuguese: jibóia
  • Russian: боа /bóa/
  • Serbian: udav
  • Spanish: boa
  • Albanian: boa
  • French: boa
  • Italian: boa
  • Russian: боа /bóa/




  • lang=fr|/bɔ.a/
  • SAMPA: /bO.a/


fr-noun m
  1. boa (serpent)
  2. boa (scarf)



boa m inv
  1. boa (snake and scarf)



  1. boa (snake)



bona, feminine of bonus, good






  1. boa (serpent)

Extensive Definition

Boas are a type of snake that are members of the Boidae family. Boas are basal snakes that are "primitive" in evolutionary terms (i.e. less derived). They are constrictors and most give birth to live young. They have anal spurs, a pair of claws on each side of the cloaca which assist in mating. Boas are named after cows (Latin: bos) because of the old myth that boa snakes pursue cows and suckle them until they are drained to death. Boas have two subfamilies: Boinae or true boas and Erycinae or sand boas. Pythons are sometimes classified as a subfamily of Boidae, but are frequently listed under their own family, Pythonidae. Sand boas are also frequently listed under their own family, Erycidae.

Boinae subfamiliy

Snakes of the subfamily Boinae are found in Madagascar, New Guinea, Pacific Islands, and the Neotropics. It has been suggested that genera within each of these particular areas do not form monophyletic groups. True boas are medium to large sized snakes. Females are usually larger than their males. Boas contain many subspecies based on locality. The boas from the Amazon Basin are the most colorful possessing bright cherry red tails. It used to be said that boas were New World Snakes and pythons were Old World Snakes, but, with boas found on Madagascar, Fiji, and Solomon Islands, this is not quite true. Instead, it is possible that boas have survived in evolutionarily isolated areas. South America, until a few million years ago, had a distinct fauna that included marsupial mammals; with the land bridge to North America, boas have migrated north as placental mammals and colubrids have migrated south.

Erycinae subfamiliy

Compared to true boas, erycines are quite small, with most members remaining well under a meter in length. Fossil erycines have been found in rock strata over 50 million years old, and were once widespread in North America. Now, only two species remain in North America, as well as the sand boas in Africa, Asia and southeastern Europe.
At least three erycine species lay eggs: the Calabar Boa, (Calabaria reinhardtii) (once classified as a python for this reason); the Arabian Sand Boa, (Eryx jayakari); and the West African Sand Boa, (Eryx muelleri).
boa in Arabic: بوا
boa in Bulgarian: Боидни
boa in Czech: Hroznýšovití
boa in Danish: Kvælerslange
boa in German: Riesenschlangen
boa in Spanish: Boidae
boa in French: Boidae
boa in Scottish Gaelic: Boa
boa in Galician: Boidae
boa in Italian: Boidae
boa in Korean: 보아 (동물)
boa in Croatian: Kržljonoške
boa in Lithuanian: Smaugliniai
boa in Hungarian: Óriáskígyófélék
boa in Dutch: Boa's
boa in Japanese: ボア科
boa in Polish: Dusiciele
boa in Portuguese: Boidae
boa in Quechua: Amaru
boa in Russian: Ложноногие
boa in Slovak: Veľhadovité
boa in Finnish: Jättiläiskäärmeet
boa in Swedish: Boa
boa in Turkish: Boa
boa in Vietnamese: Trăn
boa in Chinese: 蚺科
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