Tom Crutchfield's Story

I first discovered these snakes existed in the early 1980's. At that time, a shipment came in from ZooDom in Santa Domingo to Zoological Imports in Miami. Both Rhino and Ricords Iguanas were receieved and about a dozen of the incredulous Red Boas. I was astonished that a boa existed on Hispaniola that looked like that, after spending several months on many trips and not ever seeing even one in the wild.

I was able to acquire a few of these snakes and some Ricord Iguanas as well. Shortly thereafter, I went to the Dominican Republic and, after much research, located and brought back twelve more of these Red Mountain Living Gems over time, and began breeding them.

About five years ago, I began seeking West Indian Boas in earnest. The Red Mountain Boa was a priority, but I was only able to purchase a single male from a gentleman in the North West USA. My quest once again took me back to the Dominican Republic where I attempted to obtain a CITES permit and to collect the Red Boas in the wild, as I did in the 1980's. Permits were promised, but were never obtained. After two weeks of hunting day and night in the specific locale, we did not find a single snake. No snakes, no permits. I resigned myself to the idea of them being lost to me forever, and then I met Bob!!!

Several years ago at the Reptile Expo in Daytona, Bob walked up and introduced himself. He pointed to the picture of the Red Mountain Boa I had on my banner and told me he had them and was breeding them. I didn't know whether to believe him or not, as these boas are so rare and most herpetoculturists do not even know that they exist. After the expo, Bob sent me pictures of them breeding and their babies and I was astonished. They were much prettier than I had remembered.

Bob and I became good friends and are currently working together on several breeding projects. The Dominican Red Mountain Boa is one of the projects we are working on and are the finest boas to be introduced to herpetoculture in many years. These boas are variable in color and are, I think, the most beautiful boas on the planet. I feel priveleged to be working with Bob and these boas.

-Tom Crutchfield

Bob Occhifinto's Story

Welcome to Dominican Red Mountain Boa.com. My name is Bob Occhifinto. I began my adventure into the world of herpetology as a tropical marine fish and reptile importer. From 1980 until 1990 I owned and operated a large and successful import business named Undercurrent Imports. This allowed me the privilege of traveling the world over, visiting many tropical, exotic, isolated regions in order to extensively search for unique exotic animals. During that period of time there was no such practice as selective breeding or genetic and color morphs for any species of reptile that I knew of.

As life would have it, in 1991 my manufacturing business exploded. That company's success required my complete focus. Long hours turned into years, which unfortunately pulled me away from my true passion, the animals.

Fast forward to 2003 when I had received an invitation from a friend to a reptile show, where I couldn't believe my eyes. Breeders displayed incredible genetic and color morph animals that immediately intrigued me enough to submerse myself back into the reptile industry.

As luck would have it, for nearly twenty years I extensively traveled to the remote mountainous regions of the Dominican Republic for my manufacturing business. As I crossed a particular mountain range I took notice of the road kills. During night travel, from time to time I even caught Red Boas crossing the road. After realizing the amazing potential for the snakes I hadn't seen anywhere else but the Dominican Republic, I set out to discover how I could acquire a breeding group of animals.

In 2006 I find myself back in the Dominican Republic on business. I take the long winding ride into the area in the mountains where for years I had witnessed and caught the beautiful Red Boas. I seek out and speak with as many English speaking natives that I can. I question them about the existence of the Red Boa and they assure me that the snakes are still around, but rarely seen here anymore. So for two nights, from sun down until sun up, I cruise the area hoping to see a Red Boa, but spot nothing and return home.

Approximately four months pass and I must take another business trip back to the Dominican Republic however this time I bring a Spanish speaking friend. I attend to my other business for the first two days then on the third day, we drive to the mountainous area where the Dominican Republic borders Haiti. I recruit the help of the local Dominicans I'd spoken to during my last business trip and adventure and they are eager to help. The first two days we don't find any boas. We tried several hours during the early morning, early evening, and most of the night.

Early in the evening on the final day of the search, I am now in the right place, at the right time. I come across a five to six foot Red Boa positioned off on the side of a dirt road. I very carefully pick up the snake to examine it closely . To my surprise the snake is extremely docile. I am very excited, but this isn't the caliber snake I am searching for, so I release the snake and press on. After walking for several hours longer on a primitive overgrown mountain trail, I come across another Red Boa. This snake is incredible! The snake's colors are intense red, brighter and stronger than the red that most people describe on the best Blood Boa morph. Of course this is the one and I don't want to release the snake, but in time I come to my senses and release the snake and watch as it slithers into the under brush.

We travel further on the trail and after a very hot, humid few hours we come across a small Dominican mountain community. I prompt my Spanish speaking friend to ask the natives about the roho culebra (red snake) but I don't quite understand their reply and don't ask them any other questions and we move on.

After several days of relentless snake hunting, I realize that my Spanish speaking friend's patience and sense of adventure has left him. To save his own skin from the intense humidity and heat, my friend locates and puts me in touch with a older native gentleman. After meeting and talking to him, I find out that this is the man who for many years has caught the Red Boas for several Dominican and Haitian exporters. I offer to pay the gentleman 5000 pesos (which is an incredible sum of money based on their economic status) for information that would help me locate the animals that he had shipped from this secluded location. He gladly agrees and after spending several hours with him, I leave with the information needed to hopefully locate enough animals to start a unique captive group of these extraordinary, gorgeous Dominican Red Mountain Boas.

-Bob Occhifinto

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