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Posted by jfmoore on April 13, 2003 at 04:09:17:
I thought folks might be interested in this series of photographs showing one Arabian sand boa, Eryx jayakari, consuming a smaller one. I found them on the website of the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife (http://www.breedingcentresharjah.com/Home.html) in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. As there was not much accompanying information, I emailed them and got a response from the head of the reptile department, Damien Egan, part of which follows:
“The series of photos of the sand boa feeding on a smaller sand boa took place years ago, and I never saw the incident first hand.
A small sand boa was captured and placed in a terrarium with a larger specimen. The larger specimen then proceeded to kill and begin to swallow the smaller specimen before anyone had returned to observe the scene. As it was too late to save the little boa, the person responsible took advantage of the situation and took some photographs.
Arabian Sand Boas Eryx jayakari are tiny boas and feed predominantly on geckos and amphisbaenians. I have never since heard of an incident where cannibalism has taken place in this species.
Very large specimens will feed occasionally on gerbils, shrews and mice, but the bulk of their diet will probably consist of reptiles.”
Since I espouse keeping snakes one to an enclosure, I was surprised recently when I realized how many of my own cages contained more than one animal each. I can’t recall ever having an incidence of cannibalism in my collection, but I guess the artifice of captivity has the potential to produce atypical behavior in any animal.