Less frequently seen in the nature park than our two species of Garter Snake, the Rubber Boa is approximately 35 to 80 cm long and has small scales on loose skin with a texture of rubber – hence its name.
Adult Rubber Boas are olive green to brown with a yellowish belly. The most identifiable characteristic is its tail, which resembles its head. When threatened, Rubber Boas curve into a ball to protect their head while extending their tail as a decoy. They can also emit a smelly musk, but their secretive nature is their best defence against larger predators such as coyotes, cougars or owls.
This young rubber boa was found on Boulder Trail.
As a member of the boa constrictor family, Rubber Boas use the squeeze method of killing adult prey such as a lizard or an adult rodent. They also use the hard cap in the end of their tail to ward off mother voles, shrews or birds who try to protect their young in their nests.
Rubber Boas are nocturnal and can be found in grasslands, meadows and forests in the nature park as long as adequate warmth, moisture and prey are available. They are good climbers, burrowers and swimmers, but typically live a slow, sluggish lifestyle. These "two-headed snakes" spend much of their time under shelter such as logs, rocks or leaf litter.
Confirmed Rubber Boa sightings are marked on the map with blue dots.
Mating occurs after the reptiles emerge from hibernating in underground dens. Although they can produce up to nine young a year, many females only reproduce every four years. The young are about 15 to 23 cm long when born, and appear pinkish or transparent in colour.
Sighting a Rubber Boa in the nature park is a relatively rare occurrence. If you have never seen one up close and personal, have a look at this video taken recently in the nature park by Kimberley photographer Lyle Grisedale.