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Boa vs. Python: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 24, 2024
Boa refers to a group of non-venomous, constrictor snakes, while Python is a separate genus of non-venomous, constrictor snakes native to Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Key Differences

Boas are a group of snakes belonging to the Boidae family, known for their distinctive method of killing prey through constriction. Pythons, on the other hand, are a separate group of snakes under the Pythonidae family, also known for constriction but are typically found in different geographical regions.
Boas are predominantly found in the Americas, with some species also living in parts of Africa and Asia. They exhibit a range of sizes and habitats. Pythons are mainly found in Africa, Asia, and Australia, showcasing a greater diversity in size, with some species like the reticulated python being among the largest snakes in the world.
The boa species, such as the Boa constrictor, give birth to live young, which is unusual among snakes. In contrast, pythons lay eggs, and some species exhibit maternal care by incubating their eggs until they hatch.
In terms of behavior, boas can vary greatly, with some being arboreal while others are ground-dwelling. Pythons also exhibit diverse behaviors, but some species are known for their aquatic abilities, something less common in boas.
When it comes to popular culture and symbolism, boas often symbolize mystery and exoticism, partly due to their varied appearances and habitats. Pythons are frequently associated with power and stealth, reflecting their size and hunting prowess.

Comparison Chart



Geographical Distribution

Americas, parts of Africa and Asia
Africa, Asia, and Australia


Mostly live birth
Lay eggs

Size and Diversity

Generally smaller, less diversity
Larger sizes, more diverse

Cultural Symbolism

Mystery, exoticism
Power, stealth

Boa and Python Definitions


A large, non-venomous, constrictor snake.
The boa slowly wrapped itself around the branch.


A large, non-venomous, constrictor snake from the Pythonidae family.
The python lay basking in the sun, its scales glistening.


A term used to describe something that constricts or restricts.
The new regulations felt like a boa tightening around our operations.


In Greek mythology, a serpent or dragon that guarded the oracle of Delphi.
The hero slayed the Python to access the oracle's prophecies.


A term for someone who dominates or controls a situation.
In the boardroom, he's known as the boa, always in control.


Used to describe something large or complex.
That new infrastructure project is a real python to handle.


A long, fluffy scarf, often made from feathers or fur.
She wore a pink feather boa to the costume party.


A high-level, interpreted programming language known for its readability and wide applicability.
She wrote a script in Python to automate her daily tasks.


A type of neckwear popular in the 19th century.
The gentleman adjusted his silk boa before the portrait.


A term used to describe roller coasters with a serpentine track.
The Python roller coaster was his favorite, with its thrilling loops.


Any of various large, nonvenomous, chiefly tropical snakes of the family Boidae, which includes the anacondas, the boa constrictor, and other snakes that coil around and asphyxiate their prey.


Greek Mythology A dragon or serpent that was the tutelary demon of the oracular cult at Delphi until killed and expropriated by Apollo.


A long fluffy scarf made of soft material, such as fur or feathers.


Any of a group of large American snakes, of the genus Boa, subfamily Boinae, or family Boidae, including the boa constrictor and the emperor boa of Mexico.


(plural "boas") A type of long scarf; typically made from synthetic or real feathers (or occasionally fur), and usually worn by being draped across the shoulders with the ends hanging low, sometimes also with a loop around the neck.


A genus of large American serpents, including the boa constrictor, the emperor boa of Mexico (Boa imperator), and the chevalier boa of Peru (Boa eques).


A long, round fur tippet; - so called from its resemblance in shape to the boa constrictor.


A long thin fluffy scarf of feathers or fur


Any of several chiefly tropical constrictors with vestigial hind limbs


What is the average lifespan of a boa?

Boas can live for 20 to 30 years in the wild, depending on the species.

Are boas venomous?

No, boas are non-venomous and kill their prey by constriction.

Can pythons be found in the Americas?

While pythons are native to Africa, Asia, and Australia, some species have been introduced to the Americas.

How fast can pythons move?

Pythons are not particularly fast movers, relying more on ambush than speed.

Do boas lay eggs?

Most boas give birth to live young, unlike many other snakes.

Is it legal to own a boa as a pet?

This depends on local laws, but in many places, it is legal to own certain boa species as pets.

Are pythons good swimmers?

Some python species are known for their aquatic abilities and can be good swimmers.

Do boas have any special adaptations?

Boas have heat-sensitive pits for detecting warm-blooded prey and strong muscles for constriction.

How large can pythons grow?

Some python species, like the reticulated python, can grow over 20 feet long.

Do pythons have natural predators?

Pythons have few natural predators, but young pythons can be preyed upon by birds, large fish, and other predators.

What do boas eat?

Boas typically eat small mammals, birds, and sometimes amphibians and reptiles.

Are pythons used in traditional medicine?

In some cultures, python parts are used in traditional medicine.

What's the difference in diet between boas and pythons?

Both primarily feed on small mammals and birds, but diet can vary based on size and habitat.

Can pythons change color?

While pythons don't change color like chameleons, some may have color variations based on temperature and environment.

Are boas endangered?

Some boa species are considered endangered or vulnerable due to habitat loss and hunting.

Are pythons and boas related?

They are both part of the superfamily Henophidia but belong to different families, indicating a distant relation.

Can boas climb trees?

Some boa species are arboreal and adept at climbing.

How do pythons reproduce?

Pythons lay eggs, and some species exhibit maternal care by incubating them.

Do pythons hibernate?

Pythons, being cold-blooded, do not hibernate but may become less active in cooler temperatures.

What's the difference in texture between boa and python skins?

The texture can vary, but generally, both have smooth, dry scales.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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