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Northern Rubber Boa

Charina bottae

Family: Boidae

COSEWIC status:
  • Special Concern
SARA status:
  • Special Concern
IUCN status:
  • Least Concern


As its name suggests, the Northern Rubber Boa has a rubbery appearance due to its small, smooth scales. In Canada it is a uniform olive-green, mocha-brown, or chocolate brown with a yellowish belly. The Rubber Boa has a blunt tail, making it difficult to tell at a glance which end the head is at. This is the only non-venomous snake in Canada with vertical pupils. The Rubber Boa can grow to over 80 cm in length.

Similar Species

There are two other uniformly-coloured snakes in British Columbia: the Western Yellow-bellied Racer and the Common Sharp-tailed Snake. The racer is greenish to brown with a yellow belly and a long thin tail. The Common Sharp-tailed Snake is reddish brown to gray and has a series of black and white crossbars on the belly, as well as a pointed tail.


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The Northern Rubber Boa is relatively widespread in British Columbia, and can be locally common. It occurs in the major river valleys across much of southern B.C. with higher densities along sites near the U.S. border within the southern interior of the province. To the south the snake ranges across the northwestern U.S., as far south as northern California.


The Northern Rubber Boa is found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, montane forests and grasslands. It is also found in moist sandy areas along rocky streams. It prefers loose soil that it can burrow into. Like many snakes, this species requires open habitats for thermoregulation and rocks and woody debris for shelter. Northern Rubber Boas hibernate in underground features such as talus slopes, mammal burrows and rock crevices.


Northern Rubber Boas breed after emerging from hibernation in March and April, and females give birth to between two and eight young in late summer. Individuals of this species reach maturity in three to five years and may live over 20 years. The Rubber Boa is nocturnal and, due to this and its cryptic nature, rarely seen. It is a constrictor, preying on small mammals and specializing in baby rodents, usually consuming the entire nests when one is encountered. Much of its time is spent underground, either burrowing or using the burrows of other animals. If threatened, the Rubber Boa will often roll into a ball, hiding its head and raising its tail to act as a diversion.


The clearing of natural habitat for urbanization and intensive agriculture is a threat to this species. Road mortality may also contribute to population declines in areas where roads bisect the species’ habitat.

Additional Information About This Species In Canada