The Viper Boa is so named because it often bears a striking resemblance to the Death Adder, which is a highly venomous snake. Oddly, this species can vary in appearance from one individual to the next, which may account for its other common names, which include; Pacific Ground Boa, Papuan Ground Viper, New Guinea Boa, and Pacific Boa.
The Viper Boa is a member of the genus Candoia. This genus is comprised of at least three different species, and perhaps as many as eight. Most of the members of the genus Candoia are collectively referred to as Pacific Boas. The Viper Boa is unique because it is the smallest and the fattest member of this genus.
The Viper Boa is a nocturnal species, and is therefore usually only active at night. This species is not very common in captivity, and for this reason they may be difficult to find. Viper Boas are reported to be more aggressive than some other Pacific Boas, though this varies significantly from individual to individual. Wild caught individuals may be the cause of this reputation, since most are underfed upon arrival and usually have a bad disposition because of it. Once they are fed they generally become much more docile. In the wild this species prefers to spend most of its time on the forest floor under logs and leaves.
Male and female Viper Boas are easy to distinguish visually. The males have spurs on either side of their vents, and the females have none. This is even apparent in babies. Viper Boas may differ greatly in both color and pattern. So the description below is more of a guide than a rule. Most Viper Boas range from black to gold. They are seen in varying shades of brown, grey, orange and rust. Brown is the most common color, however, and the most common pattern consists of striped spots that run horizontally along the length of the snake. The average Viper Boa grows between 2 and 3 feet in length at maturity.
The Viper Boa is native to the Islands of the South Pacific. This is true of all Pacific Boas. No Pacific Boa is native to the mainland. They are currently endangered in the natural habitat, which includes Papua New Guinea, Irian Jaya and multiple Indonesian islands. Many Viper Boas are killed because they resemble poisonous snakes.