Panamanian Boa constrictor sabogae are native to Pearl Islands according to the author. However, specimens from Taboga,- Tabogilla Island and Cha Mar are very similar to originally described Boa c. sabogae and based on their appearance they may be indentical taxa. We have also seen specimens showing stunning resemblance to saboge subspecies from the Island of Coiba, 300 hundred kilometers East from Pearl Islands.
These animals are naturally hypomelanistic colored, which means have almost no dark pigments in their skin. Unfortunately, Saboga boas often cannot reach their mature 1,4-1,6m (5-6 ft) long size, because they usually are killed by natives upon the first sight.
The Taboga animals in captivity originally came from Robert Meidinger stock. As the owner of El Mundo de las Serpientes (a snake zoo) in Costa Rica, Meidinger got permission from the Panamanian goverment back to collect 6 specimens for his zoo back in 1991. Altough, he spent six weeks on the island, he was barely able to catch five specimens that were then shipped to his own zoo. After a few years, he bred his wild collected animals succesfully. Since the panamanian laws banned the exportation of live animals for several years, this Meidinger line had been the one and only documented line of Boa c. sabogae in captivity for a some time.
Not long after the appereance of Meidinger line, a well known American breeder also got some specimens, that said to be from Island of Saboga in contrast with Meidingers animals that were from Taboga. Since then, he bred his animals succesfully several times.
Finally, in 2006 the export ban had stopped in Panama. Since then, several boas have been shipped to the US. Most of these animals were mainland forms of Boa c. imperator. However, those shipments also contained a few specimens of Boa c. sabogae. Although the exact collecting location was unknown, we- and several other boa experts including Vin Russo and Gus Rentfro -assume that these Boa c. sabogae were collected from some of the Islands in the Panama Gulf (Pearl Islands).
It is impossible to determine the exact origin of the animals by their appearance (as it is in cases with most of Boa constrictors). It is even harder to recognize a crossbred speciment. Some of the so-called Salmon Hypo boas look almost the same like a pure Saboga boa and there is no way to distinguish which is which.
In addition, there also occur hypomelanistic specimens in the mainland Panamanian populations (Boa c. imperator) and some of these resemble sabogae subspecies. According to some), these mainland hypmelanistic snakes are crossbreds between Pearl Island boas (Boa c. sabogae) brought to the mainland by natives and normal colored Panamanian boas (Boa c. imperator). We can not confirm that.
Since the value of the true Boa c. sabogae was very high (10.000-15.000 USD in year 2005, 1500-3000 USD in year 2008), there were several trials to sell several, not pure blooded color variatons as Boa c. sabogae. Nowadays Boa c. sabogae are available at much more moderate prices, though they still command a high value.
In conclusion, buyers have to accept only those specimens as pure Boa c. sabogae that have an origin 100% proven with documents. Of course, document is not a guarantee by itself, so it is strongly recommended to buy from a reputable breeder.
We first bred these Pearl Island boas in 2009, which made us the third breeders of Boa c. sabogae in Europe after Hermann Stoeckl and Klaus Bonny. Our litter numbered 7 animals and we hold back a couple for ourself to maintain that new, unrelated bloodline for the future.
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