Boa Care Sheet – care and husbandry for boa constrictors
The Boa Constrictor, an in particular the Common Boa (Boa constrictor imperator) is a popular snake amongst herpetoculturists. The common boa has a long lifespan, capable of reaching more than 30 years in captivity, so is a very long term commitment. They require specific heating and housing, but if cared for properly they make excellent pets. Here is a boa care sheet explaining the basic care requirements of these extraordinary snakes.
Size: Adult boas can easily reach 8-10 feet in length, which means that you need to provide a substantial enclosure. A vivarium of 72x24x24 inches is ideal for adult boa constrictors.
Food: Boa constrictors are nocturnal hunters. In their natural habitat they feed on small mammals and little rodents. Lizards, birds and bats also common prey, but in captivity there is no need to provide such a varied diet. Mice for juvenile boas and bigger rodents and rabbits for adults make a perfect and easy to provide diet. The boa needs one prey every ten to fifteen days when it is adult and one per week as a neonate.
New born boas will start on pinkie or fuzzy mice, and the prey size should be increased as your boa grows, but in any case you need to remember that the size of the prey should not exceed the size of the widest part of the snake. Overfeeding, or ‘power feeding’, to increase growth rate should be avoided. While this can increase the snakeâs growth rate, but it will significantly reduce its lifespan. Boas are prone to obesity in captivity so care should be taken to limit the amount and size of prey items offered.
You should also keep in mind that as with all snake the common boa needs fresh water. It is essential to provide fresh and clean water on a daily basis.
Substrates: Many people tend to place wooden substrates in the snakeâs vivarium, considering them to be close to the natural ambiance. These however are prone to harboring parasites such as ticks and mites, are difficult to clean, and can lead to digestive problems if ingested. A much better solution is to use paper towels or newspapers which can be quickly and easily changed at little or no cost. A solid brand should also be provided as many boas will climb if given the chance.
Handling: Avoid handling newly acquired boas for a few days to allow them to get used to their new surroundings. Once settled in, begin handling for just a few minutes at a time and slowly your boa will become quite tolerant and docile. Most adult boa constrictors are easy to handle, slow moving, and unlikely to bite. They are however large and strong, so always be aware that they are potentially a dangerous animal. When handling a large boa always ensure that a second person is nearby as a safety precaution.
For more information about Common Boa Constrictors, visit Boa Care and learn all about boa husbandry and breeding.