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  • [Feeding-General] Boa vision during feeding

    I've tried to do research on this for years, about what a boa constrictor's vision is really like. I've heard plenty of theories, but nothing concrete. So tonight, when I gave Sophie her rat, she had the rat's head in her mouth, and when she let go, suddenly she had a hard time finding it. Well, I typically keep the overhead light in my room on while she eats, because her terrarium gets pretty dark at night, but this time I had it off. She must have spent a good twenty minutes trying to find the head again. So finally, I shined the little flashlight we keep in my room, into her house, and I shined it right on the rat's body. She grabbed that head so fast and down that rat went. This makes me wonder a lot of things. (I don't believe Sophie has vision trouble because she reacts to any sort of movement during the day time).

    One thing I wonder is, could boa vision be similar to human vision - we can see more details based on how much light is around us. Another thing I wonder is, do they see heat signatures like other types of snakes would, or do they see color details to some degree? It seems to me like they would, since I just got a very clear example of Sophie's eyes being dependent on light (cones and rods and all that jazz).

    What do ya'll think? Have you ever had a similar experience with your boa during feeding? What theories/research have you encountered regarding boa vision?

    Edit: I did manage to find this article, but it doesn't quite answer my question: http://www.livescience.com/959-night...ture-prey.html

  • #2
    Re: Boa vision during feeding

    There's not really any solid consensus on that. We really don't know for sure. We know that vision isn't their main sense used for hunting. Their vision certainly isn't as acute as human vision.


    -Sean in NoCal
    “Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood – the virtues that made America.”
    -Teddy Roosevelt.

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    • #3
      Re: Boa vision during feeding

      How much light is in the room at night? My understanding is that boas actually have pretty sharp vision in dim lighting (nocturnal) but like Pandorasdad said above, that isn't their main sense. But I'm pretty sure that they still need some faint lights in order to see with their eyes in the dark. Think about it this way: many nocturnal animals have vertical eye slits which helps them not get blinded during the day working with their eye lids. Snakes don't have eye lids. Their eyes would have to be less sensitive to dark so they would not be blind during the day. They probably rely more on thermal in very dark situations because of that. How warm is the bait? Could it be the same temperature as the cage? If that is true and the room is too dark, it could be that maybe it just can't find it because the lack of light and the bait being "invisible" in its thermal view. At that point it would have to feel for it and smell for it.

      On another note: I think they do see color details because I've seen several boas fascinated watching TV.

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      • #4
        Re: Boa vision during feeding

        Originally posted by acephantom903 View Post
        On another note: I think they do see color details because I've seen several boas fascinated watching TV.
        I'm not sure that means much. My great dane watches TV too.

        Sent from my HTC One via Tapatalk


        -Sean in NoCal
        “Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood – the virtues that made America.”
        -Teddy Roosevelt.

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        • #5
          Re: Boa vision during feeding

          Originally posted by Pandorasdad View Post
          My great dane watches TV too.
          Dogs have been proven to see color. It is similar to color blind people. They are able to see color but reds and greens tend to be indistinguishable for some color blind people. Some where in between normal and sepia tone.

          This guy is annoying but he explains it best in video form. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lF7F9XYCRE

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          • #6
            Re: Boa vision during feeding

            Originally posted by acephantom903 View Post
            Dogs have been proven to see color.
            Never said that they didn't. Just saying that watching TV doesn't say much about the clarity of one's vision. My grandmother watches TV too. And she's definitely blind as bat.

            Sent from my HTC One via Tapatalk


            -Sean in NoCal
            “Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood – the virtues that made America.”
            -Teddy Roosevelt.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Boa vision during feeding

              Ya'll bring up some interesting points. Sophie will go right up to my computer's screen, especially if something on the screen is moving (I watch TV shows on my computer). But I'm not sure it's color related, but more like light and movement related, ya know what I mean?

              I think the only way we could know for sure what a boa's vision is like, would be to dissect one of their eyes (I dissected sheep eyes in high school), but I also don't like the idea of dissection. It's like Ian Malcolm said, "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." Yes, I totally quoted Jurassic Park, it's my fave movie. Anyways...

              The lighting I typically have in my room is a basic nightstand lamp, so it's good enough for me to see what I am doing, but dim enough not to be too bright. Sophie is super active at night, but when all of the lights are off, she spends more time sniffing around than she does during the day. I don't think boas have night vision like a domestic cat for example, but I do agree that boas need some sort of light source in order to see.

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              • #8
                Re: Boa vision during feeding

                This is so interesting. It does seem sometimes as if the snake is having a "hard time" finding the rat's head so she can start eating it. I am not sure though, that it is having a hard time at all. Maybe it just depends on how warm or cold the prey is and how hungry or not hungry the snake is at the time. I actually don't think vision has much to do with the whole eating thing. If vision was so important, would there be fewer "accidental" snakebites? Scent plays a much bigger part, doesn't it? Certainly, I make sure to wash my hands after handling a rat, before putting my hand into my snake's enclosure!

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                • #9
                  Re: Boa vision during feeding

                  Originally posted by Pandorasdad View Post
                  My great dane watches TV too.
                  I offer as proof...

                  It turns out that he's a big Rob Gronkowski fan. And not matter how many times I tell him to back up because being that close to the TV is bad for him, he refuses to budge.


                  -Sean in NoCal
                  “Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood – the virtues that made America.”
                  -Teddy Roosevelt.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Boa vision during feeding

                    Originally posted by Pandorasdad View Post
                    And not matter how many times I tell him to back up because being that close to the TV is bad for him, he refuses to budge.
                    How old is he? And does he need glasses?

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                    • #11
                      Re: Boa vision during feeding

                      As far as I can tell, snakes do not rely on vision to identify things. Mostly they follow movement that signals prey, or look for places to hide. Their sense of touch & scent are paramount...they 'find' the head to swallow
                      mostly by poking with their nose to find what passes for the head. (-and they sometimes get it wrong, lol!) I think when you shined the flashlight, the light made the prey appear as motion, & then the scent trail took over.
                      The only snakes that read heat signatures have heat-sensing pits, as far as I know...but I think I read somewhere that some of these may be far smaller than previously thought (ie. that more snakes may possess some such
                      ability that was previously unknown?). And I don't remember where I read it but as far as I know, snakes CAN see some color. (not sure they've tested ALL kinds of snakes though...most of the world could 'care less'?)

                      Snakes do need some light to see motion...I keep Trans Pecos rat snakes and their large eyes have pupils that are huge & round to let in more light...they are excellent nocturnal hunters, and strong sunlight actually hurts
                      their eyes. (they take mostly rodents & sometimes bats)

                      I will add that I've accidentally startled a snake I was holding by walking in front of a mirror...it was not image recognition on their part, just the sudden image that seemed to move & they mis-read as a threat near them.

                      Lizards are another matter...some have great vision, more like birds. Male bearded dragons will fight (attack!) their image in a mirror, thinking it's some big ugly rival! They do NOT know it's their own image.

                      My dogs rarely seem to watch tv...but they DO pay attention to the sounds, IF they are very clear and especially if it's a dog barking or other animal noises. As far as I know, dogs brains don't process 2 dimensional images,
                      they need 3 dimensions. They clearly get excited by some canine vocalizations, but take away the sound, and the image of a dog on tv does nothing for them.
                      At times my dogs seem to see themselves reflected in a mirror or other glass, but I suspect it's the slight motion that attracts their attention...that, & me snickering nearby? -not the ability to really know what they're seeing.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Boa vision during feeding

                        Originally posted by acephantom903 View Post
                        How old is he? And does he need glasses?
                        He'll be four in February. He's a big, dumb, slobbery, happy dog.


                        -Sean in NoCal
                        “Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood – the virtues that made America.”
                        -Teddy Roosevelt.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Boa vision during feeding

                          If you are interested in some of the science behind the boas and the pythons, this book is interesting. I bought a copy a couple pf years back.

                          Amazon.com: biology of boas and pythons: Books

                          It reads a bit slow as the language used is very scientific and unless you are well versed in the terminology used in the book, it may not flow like a some of the other snake books.

                          However it is certainly understandable and the book is a compilation of different studies on various species of boa and python by a number of different biologists.

                          I enjoy reading it.

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