Cat snakes are long-bodied snakes with large heads and large eyes. They vary greatly in pattern and color. Many species have banding, but some are spotted and some are solid-colored. Colors are normally black, brown, or green with white or yellow accents.
Boiga dendrophila is by far the most common species in captivity, but Boiga cynea and Boiga nigriceps are also found. Nowadays, B. cynodon, B. philippina and a “Katherine morph” B. irregularis are also circulating in the South-East Asian exotic pet trade. Others are not commonly available. They are hardy and adaptable and tend to do well in captivity after the initial period of stress from the importation process is passed. They are not bred commonly in captivity, so most specimens available are wild caught, and thus are prone to heavy internal parasite load. Adjusting them to a rodent only diet can be difficult for the inexperienced reptile keeper.
Boiga irregularis in particular has been federally banned in the United States because of its effect by accidentally being introduced to the island of Guam. Some time during the 1950s, these snakes (or possibly a single female with eggs) reached the island, possibly having hidden in imported plant pots. The island of Guam lacks native snakes or predators that can deal with snakes the size and aggressiveness of Boiga irregularis. As a result, they have bred unchecked as an invasive species, and began consuming the island's bird life in extreme numbers. Currently, dozens of bird species have been completely eradicated from the island, many species that were found nowhere else on earth, and the snake has reached astonishing population densities, reported to be as high as 15,000 snakes per square mile. In addition to devouring the native fauna, this species will routinely crawl into power transformers, and, unfortunately for all involved, this typically results in both an electrocuted snake and substantial blackouts.
Fitzinger, L.I. 1826. Neue Classification der Reptilien nach ihren natürlichen Verwandtschaften. Nebst einer Verwandtschafts-tafel und einem Verzeichnisse der Reptilien-Sammlung des k.k. zoologischen Museums zu Wien. J.G. Heubner. Vienna. five unnumbered pages + 67 pp. + one plate. (Genus Boiga, p. 60.)
Boiga dendrophyla melanota (Only subspecies of B. dendrophyla not limited to islands; found in Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Penang Island, Indonesia [eastern Sumatra, Riau Archipelago, Bangka, Billiton], Cambodia, Vietnam [Riau Archipelago, Bangka, Billiton])
Boiga multifasciata (Himalayan region in northern and eastern India, Nepal, Bhutan)
Boiga multomaculata (southern China [Hainan, Hong Kong, Yunnan, Guangxi], Myanmar, Indochina [Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia], eastern India, Bangladesh, Indonesia [Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi])
Boiga nigriceps nigriceps(Thailand, Malaysia (Malay Peninsula and Borneo], Indonesia [Simalur, Nias, Sumatra, Borneo, Java])
Boiga ocellata (northern peninsular Malaysia, Thailand, southern Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, eastern India
Boiga ochracea ochracea (Bhutan, eastern India, Bangladesh, Myanmar)
Boiga ochracea stoliczkae (Nepal, northern India [Darjeeling (West Bengal) and Sikkim]; Bangladesh)
Boiga ochracea walli (Southern Myanmar, Andaman and Nicobar Islands)
Boiga philippina (Philippine Islands [Luzon])
Boiga quincunciata (Myanmar, eastern India)
Boiga schultzei (Philippine Islands [Palawan])
Boiga saengsomi (southern Thailand [Trang and Krabi provinces])
Boiga trigonata trigonata (Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh)
Boiga trigonata melanocephala (Iran, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, western Pakistan)
Boiga wallachi (Andaman and Nicobar Islands)
(Orlov & Ryabov 2002 and references therein)
Orlov, N.L. and S.A. Ryabov. 2002. A new species of the genus Boiga (Serpentes, Colubridae, Colubrinae) from Tanahjampea Island and Description of "Black Form" of Boiga cynodon Complex from Sumatra (Indonesia). Russian Journal of Herpetology 9(1): 33-56.