Boas are among the best snakes to keep as pets. While most boas are large snakes and not necessarily suitable for owners with no prior experience, there is no better snake in my opinion. In fact, after 25 years of having snakes, if I could have one, it would definitely be a boa!
In general, boas, while large and powerful, are usually a pleasure to handle and are generally docile by 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 species that are best adapted to captivity.
Common boas Boa Constrictor Emperor
Common boas, also known as Central American boas or Columbian boas, range from Mexico to central South America. Variable in appearance and also in habitat, they thrive everywhere from the rainforest to the bushes. Most captive boas constrictors are common boas, most of which originated in Colombia.
While no boa is the perfect pet snake, the common boa is closer to achieving that title. They are usually considerably cheaper than other boas, such as the red-tailed one, and yet they are still beautiful snakes, often with striking markings. They are usually very docile, 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 generally reach 6 to 9 feet in length as an adult. Males will tend to be slightly shorter and less well-built than females, and sex can generally be determined by the anal spurs that are quite prominent in males.
Newborns will measure between 14 and 20 inches at birth and will normally begin to eat well on furry mice shortly after their first molt 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 boas 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 usually light in color with striking saddle markings that are deep red, edged with black, on the fore-third of the snake.
Generally longer and heavier built than common boas, red tails can grow to over 12 feet long, although 9 to 10 feet is more common.
In general, they are 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. That said, they are still docile and generally easy to care for snakes. If you’re up for the sheer 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 typically take a giant rat or rabbit once every fortnight.
Dumeril Boas Boa dumerili
Dumeril is a CITES protected species from Madagascar. The CITES status of this species means that specimens grown with WC or CF cannot be exported, but it does not prevent CB snakes from being kept. However, if you buy a Dumeril boa, you will need CITES documentation to prove its origin and to be microchipped. Any reputable breeder or trader who has the Dumeril Boas for sale will be able to organize the paperwork and advise on the microchip (adults should already be stung, but juveniles too young to be stung will require a visit to the vet to have them inserted a chip when they are). large enough.
They are a great alternative to the red or common tailed boa for keepers who want a large boa but are intimidated by the idea of having an 8 to 10 foot snake. These snakes rarely exceed 7 feet in length, and adults often do not exceed 5 feet.
Breeding similar to common boas is required for the Dumeril, although some specimens can be more troublesome to feed and are a bit 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 CenchriaI) and Colombian (Ec Maurus) are more common in captivity.
In general, Rainbow Boas are considered a more advanced snake and are only suitable for experienced herpeto bodybuilders. This is largely due to the fact that these are typically much less tolerant of handling than snakes such as boas constrictors. If Rainbow Boas are suitable to be kept as a first snake, it really depends on what you want from a snake. If you want a snake that you can handle almost whenever you want, and you don’t have to worry too much about the snake being aggressive, then a Rainbow Boa is probably not for you. However, if you want a beautiful snake that you can look at in your nursery the way you would enjoy fish in an aquarium, then there really is no reason why a rainbow boa can’t stay a prime snake, as long as you be able to give it the environment and the care it needs.
A temperature (thermostat controlled) of around 78-80 F at night should be provided, increasing to 85-90 F during the day. Humidity must be kept considerably high. In addition to a pool / container of water large enough to submerge, the enclosure must be sprinkled every day. These snakes rarely drink from ponds, but will take raindrops from branches and leaves, and even from their own scales. Aim for 75-80% humidity. Since high humidity promotes mold and mildew growth, special care must be taken to ensure cleanliness and good ventilation.
Other species of boa
Of course, there are many other species of boa, including much smaller species such as pink boas and land boas. But for the average snake owner, who wants a truly magnificent snake and can commit to keeping a large snake for over 20 years, one of these 4 magnificent species would certainly be my pick.