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Viper Boa

Why would anyone call the harmless snake Candoia aspera by the dangerous-sounding name of “viper boa”?

The Jobi Skink
Reptiles Magazine 1201
Diamond Python Care
REPTILES Magazine

Q. Why would anyone call the harmless snake Candoia aspera by the dangerous-sounding name of “viper boa”? It doesn’t look anything like a viper, and it must scare some people away from owning one.
Donna Minter
Oro Valley, Ariz.

Click image to enlarge
Viper Boas are not vipers but do have a semi-close resemblance to actual vipers
Viper boas (Candoia aspera) are cryptic ambush predators that erupt from the forest substrate to capture rodent and lizard prey.

A. I disagree about the lack of resemblance to a viper, at least a generic one. Stout body and somewhat triangularly shaped head — that’s reasonably descriptive of most vipers. The nonvenomous “viper boa” passes the look-a-like test admirably in my eyes.


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I doubt the person who coined that name was much concerned about the species’ suitability (or popularity) in the pet trade. Or maybe they were! A jazzy name like that might actually increase interest to a certain segment of potential buyers. This boa species is not very colorful, so maybe the vernacular name was a marketing ploy designed to spice up appeal via an exciting name.

Dragonflies aren’t very dragonlike, and vampire bats don’t exactly change form at twilight. Cool names draw attention because of some superficial similarity and make it easier to remember what might otherwise be less-memorable animals.