Food habits and reproductive biology of the Pacific Island boas (Candoia)

Peter Harlow, Richard Shine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Dissection of > 400 preserved museum specimens of the three Candoia species, an Old World boine lineage, provided information on body sizes, body shapes, sexual dimorphism, adult sex ratios, reproductive biology, and food habits. Body shape apparently covaries with habitat use within Candoia: the heavy-bodied C. aspera is terrestrial, the elongate C. bibroni arboreal, and C. carinata intermediate in both respects. Females grow larger than males in all three species, and mature at larger sizes. Cloacal spurs were absent in all female C. carinata, most female C. aspera, and almost half of the female C. bibroni. Where present, spurs were smaller in females than in males. Adult females outnumbered males in collec- tions of C. aspera, but not in the other two species. Litter sizes were similar among the three species, averaging 15 to 18 young, with larger females producing larger litters. Only about one-third of adult females were reproductive in each species, suggesting that reproduction may not occur every year in every female. Diets were similar among the three species, with smaller snakes eating lizards (mostly skinks) and larger snakes taking a higher proportion of mammalian prey (mostly rats and mice, but occasionally bandicoots). 

The diets of Candoia are broadly similar to those of other small boid snakes, both boines and pythonines. However, Candoia tends to resemble boines rather than sympatric pythonines in being relatively heavy- bodied, and (perhaps for this reason) has significantly larger litters relative to maternal SVL than do the Australian pythons

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-66
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Herpetology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1992
Externally publishedYes


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