Boa Species – The 4 Most Suitable Boa Species as Pet Snakes

Boas are among the best snakes to keep as pets. While most boas are large snakes and not necessarily suitable for inexperienced owners, there is no better snake in my opinion. In fact, after 25 years of keeping snakes, if I could only have one, it would definitely be a boa!

In general, boas, while large and powerful, are normally a joy to handle and are generally docile in nature. There are 28 recognized species of boa, and many of them can be kept in captivity, although some are certainly more suitable than others. This is a guide to the 4 most suitable species for captivity.

Common Boas Boa Constrictor Imperator

Common boas, also known as Central American boas or Colombian boas, range from Mexico to central South America. Variable in appearance and also in habitat, they thrive everywhere from rainforest to scrub. Most captive boa constrictors are common boas, most of which originated from Columbia.

While no boa is the perfect pet snake, the common boa comes the closest to achieving that title. They tend to be considerably cheaper than other boas, such as the red-tailed, and yet they are still beautiful snakes, often with conspicuous markings. They are usually very docile, will usually catch thawed prey without difficulty, and are generally easy to care for.

Tending to be slightly smaller than red-tailed boas, the Imperator Boa Constrictor will typically reach 6 to 9 feet in length as an adult. Males will tend to be slightly shorter and less built than females, and sex can usually be determined by the anal spurs which are quite prominent on males.

Newborns will measure around 14 to 20 inches at birth, and will normally begin to feed well on fluffy mice shortly after their first shed if given optimal conditions.

If you want a beautiful snake that is relatively easy to care for and good to handle, the common boa might be an ideal choice.

red tailed boa Boa Constrictor Constrictor

True Red Tails are only found in the Amazon and Orinoco basins in northern Brazil, eastern Peru, Suriname, Guyana, and southern Colombia. They are generally light in color with conspicuous deep red saddle markings, edged with black, on the anterior third of the snake.

Generally longer and stockier in build than common boas, Red Tails can grow to over 12 feet in length, although 9 to 10 feet is more common.

They are generally considered suitable for more experienced keepers, mainly due to their larger size and the fact that they are more difficult to breed in captivity than the common boa. They are also considerably more expensive than common boas. Having said that, they are still docile and generally easy snakes to care for. If you are prepared for the large size and can accommodate a large enough enclosure, they are truly eye-catching animals. A large adult will require an enclosure at least 6′ long by 3′ and will normally take a giant rat or rabbit once every fortnight.

Dumeril’s Boas Boa Dumerili

The Dumeril is a CITES protected species from Madagascar. The CITES status of this species means that WC or CF cultured specimens cannot be exported, but it does not prevent CB snakes from being kept. However, if you buy a Dumeril boa, you will need CITES paperwork to prove its origin and have it microchipped. Any reputable breeder or dealer selling Dumeril boas will be able to arrange paperwork and advise on microchipping (adults should already be chipped, but juveniles that are too small to be chipped will require a visit to the vet to have them chipped when they are big enough.

They are a great alternative to the common or red-tailed boa for keepers who want a large boa but are intimidated by the idea of ​​keeping an 8- to 10-foot snake. These snakes rarely exceed 7 feet in length, and adults often do not exceed 5 feet.

Similar handling to Common Boas is required for Dumerils, although some specimens can be more troublesome to feed and are slightly more prone to stress.

rainbow boas Epicrates cenchria

Rainbow boas get their name from an iridescence on their skin when exposed to the sun or other bright light. There are several subspecies, found in much of South America, and of these the Brazilian (Ec Cenchria) and Columbian (EC Mauro) are more common in captivity.

In general, rainbow boas are considered a more advanced snake and are suitable only for experienced herpetologists. This is largely due to the fact that they are usually much less tolerant of handling than snakes like boa constrictors. Whether Rainbow Boas are suitable to be kept as a first snake really depends on what you want from a snake. If you want a snake that you can handle almost whenever you want, and not have to worry too much about snake aggressiveness, then a Rainbow Boa is probably not for you. However, if you want a beautiful snake that you can observe in your vivarium in the same way that you would enjoy fish in an aquarium, then there really is no reason why a Rainbow Boa can’t be kept as a first snake, as long as you you are able to give him the environment and take care of his needs.

A temperature (controlled by thermostat) of around 78 to 80 F at night should be provided, increasing to 85 to 90 F during the day. Humidity must be kept considerably high. In addition to a pool/water bowl large enough to submerge in, the enclosure should be misted daily. These snakes rarely drink from pools, but will take raindrops from branches and leaves, and even from their own scales. Aim for a humidity of 75-80%. Since high humidity promotes mold and mildew growth, special care must be taken to ensure cleanliness and good ventilation.

Other boa species

Of course, there are many other species of boa, including much smaller species such as rosy boas and ground boas. But for the average snake owner, who wants a truly magnificent snake and can commit to keeping a large snake for 20+ years, one of these 4 magnificent species would certainly be my pick.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *