Boa Constrictor Care: Species Overview
- Common Names: Red-Tailed Boa
- Scientific Name: Boa constrictor
- Distribution: Central and South America
- Adult Size: 3-10’
- Life Expectancy: 15-25 years
The Red-tailed boa is among the most common and well-known species of snakes kept as pets. The common name Red-tailed boa refers to one of many types of boas found throughout Central and South America. These snakes can grow to a large but manageable size and are recommended only for keepers willing to provide adequate space for adults. The friendly demeanor and attractive coloration have made the Red-tailed boa one of the most sought after snakes in the hobby. These tropical snakes, are commonly bred in captivity, and we recommend purchasing captive-bred animals only.
Boa Constrictor Care: Habitat Set-Up
- Neonates to juveniles (under 3’) can be housed in a 20-40-gallon terrarium.
- Zoo Med’s ReptiHabitat™ 40-gallon and 60-gallon terrariums are an excellent choice for young boas.
- Adult boas will need an enclosure that is no shorter than half the length of the snake. There are several cages commercially made to house adult boas. Minimal cage size for adults should be 4’ x 2’ x 1’.
- A secure, lockable sliding-screen lid is essential for safely housing these snakes.
- Daytime Terrarium Temperature 80-85° F
- Basking Temperature 85-92° F
- Nighttime Terrarium Temperature 72-78° F
- Create a thermal gradient in your snake enclosure by placing a heat lamp and an Under Tank Heater on one side of the terrarium. Zoo Med’s Daylight Blue Reptile Bulb is an excellent choice for heating snake enclosures. By placing the heating elements on one side of the cage, you will naturally provide the proper thermal gradient.
- Any of Zoo Med’s thermometers will help you keep a close eye on terrarium temperatures.
- An Under Tank Heater or Repticare® Rock Heater is essential to provide belly heat to your snake while it digests a meal.
- Snakes typically do not require UVB to meet their vitamin D requirements. However, many snakes receive UVB and sunlight in their natural habitat, and there is new evidence that they benefit from UVB lighting in captivity.
- Zoo Med’s NatureSun® or ReptiSun® fluorescent lamps can be used to illuminate your terrarium and create a natural day/night photoperiod.
- Boa constrictors will do best on Zoo Med’s Aspen Snake Bedding, Forest Floor™ cypress mulch, Eco Earth®, or ReptiBark®. We recommend a substrate layer of 2.5-3” in depth.
- Provide moistened New Zealand Sphagnum Moss in a Repti Shelter™ to create a humidity chamber. This chamber will help your snake shed its skin as it grows.
- Zoo Med’s Eco Carpet™ can be used as a safe, environmentally friendly, and easy-to-clean substrate.
About the Boa Constrictor
- Boa constrictors are usually very docile and tolerate handling very well. They’re typically active, alert snakes. They often seem to enjoy being held and will seek out an area on your arm or shoulders and enjoy your body warmth.
- It’s essential to know how to hold the snake, so it feels secure. One hand should be under its body near its head, and the other hand should be under its body. The boa might loosely wrap itself around you for added support, but it usually won’t constrict unless it feels alarmed or like it’s falling. They might hiss or strike if they feel threatened, but consistent handling often will make them tame and not so defensive.
Boa Constrictor Care: Diet and Nutrition
- Boa constrictors can be fed mice and rats exclusively throughout their lives. Rodents provide snakes with the needed calcium and vitamins.
- We recommend offering frozen rodents only.
- Have fresh water available at all times. ReptSafe® Water Conditioner is an excellent choice for removing Chlorine and Chloramines from tap water.
- Zoo Med’s Corner Bowls are an excellent choice of water bowls for all snakes.
- When choosing an adequately sized food item for your snake, select a mouse/rat that is the same size, or slightly bigger than the girth of your snake.
- Young: Will eat one-hopper mouse per week.
- Juveniles: Will eat one appropriately sized rat per week. Large adults may need larger food items such as rabbits, Guinea pigs, or similar sized food.
- Use caution when handling pets and remember they may bite or scratch (especially when stressed).
- Supervise children around pets.
- ALL ANIMALS can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans.
- Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
- Adults should assist children with handwashing after contact with a pet, its habitat, or aquarium water.