Caring for a Boa Constrictor as a Pet
The Boa Constrictor is a powerful snake that live in the tropical climates of Central and South America. They are active during the night where they prey on rats, birds, monkeys or wild pigs. They do this by climbing up on branches and ambushing their prey. However, nowadays some people are considering adopting a Boa as a house pet.
In this AnimalWised article we are going to go through the important factors that you'll need to take into account when caring for a Boa Constrictor. As these aren't common house pets and we need to be careful when adopting one to make sure they live a happy and healthy life. Continue reading this complete guide to learn more!
Can I have a Boa Constrictor as a pet?
Yes, you can care for a Boa Constrictor as a pet. Many people have chosen this snake as a house companion. However, it's an uncommon house pet so you will need to inform yourself on how to properly care for them. For that, you've come to the right place! This article is the perfect guide for caring for a Boa Constrictor.
How to care for a Boa Constrictor as a pet
To properly care for a boa constrictor, it will be important to previously consider the specific subspecies to which it belongs to. This way, you'll know their adult size and other useful information, such as their life expectancy.
Firstly, captivated Boa Constrictor snakes can live for more than 20 years. Therefore, you must be completely sure you can commit to this exotic pet. They will take time and patience to care for.
On average, females reach 6 to 7 feet within three to five years. Some can even reach up to 9 feet long. Adult males typically reach 4 to 6 feet within the same amount of time. An interesting fact is that Boas actually never stop growing. Their growth rate just slows down dramatically once they reach adulthood at three to five years.
The Boas Constrictor are solitary and twilight animals, meaning that they are snakes that carry out their activities at night. They are also semi-arboreal, since in the wild they spend much of the day resting on the branches of trees, a place that they also use to ambush their prey. Likewise, the Boa Constrictor also appreciates moving on the ground or in the water.
These snakes can be a great safe-to-keep and low-maintenance pet. They are often active and alert. They may hiss or strike when they are young but then they get used to being handled and react calmly. A bite from a young Boa will feel like a pin prick. It's not painful, just startling. However, like we've mentioned, they will get used to being handled and stop reacting defensively. They'll learn you are not a threat and won't bite you when you handle them.
Choosing the right terrarium
To choose the right terrarium, we must look for one that is taller than it is wide. This way we can add a branch and a shelter that allows your snake to climb and hide as it would in the wild. If you can't find a suitable terrarium, you can also use an aquarium. You can get these on an inline store or your local pet store.
The size of the terrarium will vary according to the age of the boa constrictor:
- Young: when the Boa Constrictor is young we can use practically any type of terrarium or aquarium. They will adapt to an aquarium or terrarium of 60 x 50 x 30 cm with no issues. However, you'll have to change the terrarium as they grow.
- Young adult: during this stage (until they reach 1 or 2 meters in length) we can provide them with a terrarium of about 150 x 90 x 70 cm.
- Adult: adult Boas should have a terrarium of at least 300 x 100 x 70 cm. Remember that the larger the size, the higher quality of life they will have.
Setting up the right environment
Now that you've chosen the right size terrarium for your Boa, it's time to adjust the temperature for their survival. The temperature of the terrarium must be between 24ºC and 26ºC and it is extremely important that it does not drop below 22ºC. For this, you will need a thermo-hygrometer device, which will allow us to know the temperature. We may also need heating plates, panels, etc., to heat up the terrarium when necessary. Consult with your local pet store or reptile veterinarian for more details.
The humidity of the terrarium is also another important factor.It should be around 50% - 60%. However, in molting times the humidity level should rise to 70% - 75%.
Preparing the terrarium
Once you've chosen the correct terrarium and climatized it for your snake, it's time to add the essentials for their living and wellbeing inside of the terrarium. To do this you'll need to make sure you've provided them with the following factors:
- Substrate: your terrarium will need the correct substrate for your Boa. The most recommended substrate for a Boa Constrictor is hemp. You can buy this on an online shop or your local pet store. Other options are coconut fiber and poplar. Never use cedar as it's very harmful to Boas. If you choose a different substrate, make sure to inform yourself on whether it is safe for your pet.
- Shelter: next, you'll need to provide them with a hiding spot. This is very important as they tend to hide in the wild and will feel safe there. You can use a thick branch with a hole or an artificial hole. The Boa might break some of these so we will need to fix them in the future.
- Branches: as we've previously mentioned, Boas are semi-arboreal snakes. This is why adding large branches to their terrarium is a must. These may also need to be replaced in the future.
- Water: lastly, you'll need to provide them with a small pool where they can bathe. This water will need to be changed everyday or every other day.
Now that you've finished adding the essentials, your terrarium is finally ready for your Boa Constrictor!
Feeding a Boa Constrictor
First things first, our Boa will need fresh water at all times at their disposal. Choose a large container where they can bath in and place it inside their terrarium.
Next, you'll need to feed them. What do Boas eat? Boas are carnivorous animals. In the wild they eat a variety of rodents, or lagomorphs. So, when caring for them at home, we will have to provide them with a similar diet. You can buy live mice, rats, guinea pigs or rabbits in your local pet store to feed them.
When choosing how much to feed them, the size matters. You'll want to choose a rodent that is about the size of your Boa. For example, a baby Boa should be fed newborn rodents, while an adult Boa will need a larger adult rodent. Give them one rodent at a time and never over-feed them.
How frequently should you feed your Boa? Young boas should be fed more frequently than adults. Small snakes can be fed every five to seven days, intermediate snakes every 10 to 14 days, and fully grown snakes every three to four weeks.
We also encourage you to read our article on the common health problems in snakes.
Following a cleaning routine is very important for the health and wellness of your Boa. Otherwise, the terrarium can begin to accumulate fungi and parasites. To keep their terrarium clean, follow these tips:
- Check the enclosure daily
- Refresh their water everyday or every other day
- Spot clean whenever you see any waste
- Do a full terrarium cleaning once a month
- Change the substrate once a month
To fully clean the terrarium, you'll want to first place your snake in another safe terrarium. Then disassemble any pieces that need to be removed. Next, you a non-toxic cleaning product to clean the glass of the terrarium. Make sure to thoroughly rinse it and let it dry or use a clean cloth to dry. You'll want to do this once a month.
Want to know if the Boa Constrictor is the right pet for you? Watch this Youtube video by Clint's Reptiles where he talks about caring for a Boa Constrictor as a pet. Clint is a professional biologist that gives insightful information for those interested in adopting one of these snakes.
If you want to read similar articles to Caring for a Boa Constrictor as a Pet, we recommend you visit our Basic care category.
- If your Boa is having abnormal behavior, take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible
- Don't leave them alone with small children or other pets you may have
- Make sure to check in your own country or state whether it is legal to own a Boa Constrictor as a pet!