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Kelowna  

Rubber boa a rare find

Brett Press had an Okanagan first recently.

"First time I've ever seen one of those in my 38 years of living in Kelowna," Press tells Castanet.

Press came across what he believes is a rubber boa, a species native to the Western United States and British Columbia, including the Okanagan.

"I was leaving my shop in Winfield industrial park off Jim Bailey Road came across a small baby snake I'm told it's a rubber boa local to the area," Press says.

"I've only seen garter snakes as a kid growing up here or listening to rattlesnakes at the bush. They are friendly and don't bite. My friend said it was a rare find."

Rubber boas are one of the smaller boa species, adults can be anywhere from half a metre to a metre in length.

They are primarily nocturnal and most active during dawn and dusk, which is typically when they are encountered.

The name comes from the look of their skin which is often loose and wrinkled and consists of small scales that are smooth and shiny, giving the snakes a rubber-like look and texture. These snakes are typically tan to dark brown. Newborns often appear pink and slightly transparent but darken with age.

Press says, "I should have taken a picture of it when I picked it up it kind of curled around my fingers and I sort of took it to the edge of the property." Press says it looked like the snake was struggling to wiggle its way on the asphalt at night so he gave it a helping hand.

Rubber boas are the most Northerly of Boa species but they range from California to British Columbia in the western United States.

There have also been rare sightings in Colorado and Alberta. B.C. is also the highest latitude of any boa, which means it is the closest that is  the closest point to either pole for a boa.

These snakes can be found at elevations anywhere from sea level to 3,000 metres and they live off of young mammals such as shrews, voles, mice, etc.

They are not as tolerant of  hot temperatures and can be found under shelter like rocks, logs, leaf litter, burrows, etc. They do also need  adequate warmth, moisture, and prey.

Rubber boas are considered one of the most docile of the boa species and are often used to help people overcome their fear of snakes.



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