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HALMAHERA GROUND BOAS…
A BRIEF DESCRIPTION AND OVERVIEW

By Jerry Conway

A member of the genus Candoia, Halmahera boas were not found until 1996 when Kamuran Tepedelen discovered them on a field collecting trip in Indonesia. The island of Halmahera is located at the northwest tip of the New Guinea coast, and southeast of the Philippines. The discovery of these boas was quite a find. These animals were not thought to occur this far west in Indonesia. Other species of Candoia are found south to New Guinea & east to the Solomon Islands and Fiji.

Halmahera boas look like a cross between viper boas & Solomon ground boas. A few people that I have spoken to, think that they look more like New Guinea tree boas. They have triangular shaped heads, whereas the New Guinea tree boas have a longer more pointed snout. I have seen many imports come in over the last 3 years & have found that the average length of these animals is approx. 24-36 inches; with males always being the smaller of the two. As with all Candoia, sexing can be foolproof just by examining spurs, which are like big claws on males, and absent on females. Unlike Solomon ground boas, Halmahera boas only come in 3 basic color phases. Most adult males seem to be a grayish black, while females tend to be gold or maroon. I have also seen gold males & black females. All specimens have a broken zig-zag stripe down the back from head to tail. This stripe always stands out against the background color.

In late April 1998 my adult wild caught Halmahera boas bred for the first time. A large gold phase female then ovulated in early May & I knew she was gravid at that point. On January 10 1999, 8 months later, this female gave birth to 18 live young. I believe this to be the first & only captive breeding of this species. Neonate Halmahera boas look very similar to baby Solomon ground boas. However, there were a few differences. The neonates had very light gold background colors with a somewhat darker zig-zag stripe. This stripe, which is usually unbroken on Paulsoni, was broken in several spots down the length of the baby Halmaheras. Many of the neonates were born gold, even the males. All of the babies averaged 6 inches in length. After several weeks live pinkie mice were offered. Only 4 out of 18 neonates ate pinkies on the first attempt. Small treefrogs & anoles were accepted several weeks later. As with all Candoia, these animals require very little care & maintenance to successfully thrive & breed. I look forward to future breeding of this & other Candoia species.