The Round Island Boa:
So the Round Island Boa is up next. This is a snake endemic to Mauritius and only found there on the tiny offshore island named Round Island. I worked with these snakes in 2015 while the warden of Round Island for the Mauritian Wildife Foundation (MWF). So lets get some basic facts down.
Common Name: Round Island Boa
Other names: Round Island Keel-scaled Boa
Latin name: Casarea dussumieri
Location: Round Island, Mauritius
Habitat: Rocky areas and palm savannah
So as I said this snake is only found on Round Island but it has recently been reintroduced to the nearby Gunner Quoin with plans to expand to other islands. They were once found all over but have been killed off by the arrival of humans and pests such as rats and other reptiles mainly from Madagascar.
The young, as pictured above, are a bright orange colour but as the grow they become a much darker grey colour. Interestingly the adults have the ability to change colour. During boa survey the snakes colour was recorded to help identifify individuals. However once PIT tagging began the snakes were captured and placed in bags. On removal the researchers became confused at having a different snake in the bag. This method of idntification was then realsied to be no much use.
Interestingly despite being a small island at just 159ha and with a constant warden present doing island wide surveys no boa eggs have been found in the wild so no one knows where they lay their eggs. The only recorded case of boa eggs was when a female was PIT tagged. On release they found eggs in the bag.
The snakes feed on reptiles and the ocassional seabird chick. The main food source is the telfairs skink. The reptile is very round so the snake has a special feature. It has a diuble hindged jaw to wrap around the body of the telfair.
The snake is an incredible docile one. I had never handled snakes before becoming the warden but was surpised how easy they are to handle. You can liteally just pick them up and they do nothing. They are like sticks. I was not bitten during my time there.
I have been woken by these snakes many times as they are at home in the wardens station. They crawl over you as you sleep and I even found one youngset using my pillow.
Wednesday, 30 March 2016
Round Island Boa: Animal Fact Series Part 2
John) Matthew Stritch is a Zoologist traveling to some of the more remote locations on the planet. Having spent nine months studying wild bonobos Matt then went on to be a safari guide in South Africa. He has also worked in Mauritius as warden of world renowned Round Island and more recently he has been habituating lowland gorilla in Gabon. Matt has an interest in animal behaviour, film making, photography and writing. His first book: "A Zoologists Stumbling's in Africa: How to Habituate a Bonobo" is about his time in the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo.