Boa constrictors are becoming more and more popular as pets, but how much do you really know about them? Here are the top boa facts I get asked about again and again...
What is the difference between a common boa and a red tailed boa?
Common boas (boa constrictor imperator) are a medium to large snake from Central America. Red Tailed Boas (boa constrictor imperator) are a slightly larger snake, with similar markings but a brighter, deeper red coloration on the tail. Both species are commonly kept as pets, but the true red tails are generally considered more desirable and thus are more expensive.
How big do boas grow?
Some boas can reach over 12 feet in length, while species such as the rosy boa only reach 24 inches as adults. The most commonly kept boa constrictor species tend to reach 8 - 9 feet in length as adults, with the males being a foot or so shorter than the females.
What should I feed my boa?
Boas are pure carnivores. They eat a selection of rodents and other mammals, birds and lizards. In captivity they can be fed exclusively on rodents such as mice, rats, and even rabbits for very large specimens. Most captive snakes are fed on frozen and defrosted prey.
How often should I feed my boa?
An adult boa should be fed every 12 - 14 days while new born snakes need feeding weekly. It is a fact that snakes are very prone to obesity in captivity so care should be taken not to overfeed.
Do pet boas need heating?
All snakes are ectothermic, which means they control their body temperature by using their environment. Since most boas come from tropical climates, you will need to provide heating to keep them successfully in captivity. A 'thermal gradient' where one area of the enclosure is warmer, while another is cooler, allows the boa to maintain an optimal body temperature. This is achieved with the use of one or more heat sources controlled by a thermostat.
Do pet boas need special lighting?
While many reptiles need broad spectrum ultra violet lighting to simulate sunlight, boas are mostly nocturnal and do not require it. Some keepers provide a small light for the purpose of better viewing their snakes, but this does not affect their health.
Why does my boa soak in his water bowl?
All reptiles shed their skin periodically. When about to shed, snakes need a higher humidity and will deep out damp places, or even water. Soaking like this is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about if your boa sheds a few days afterwards. Other possible reasons for soaking however are overheating and a mite infestation. Be sure to check your thermostats to ensure that the temperature is correct. Then check for mites which are small spots which may appear to move, and will be more prominent around the head. Mites can be treated quite easily but it is advisable to consult a vet before commencing treatment.