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Boa Constrictor Care

By: Dr. Steve Divers

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The Boa constrictor (Boa constrictor spp) is amongst the most popular of all snakes. This is hardly surprising considering the gracious shape, coloration and relative docile nature of this medium-sized constrictor. Boas are among the longest lived of all species of snakes with life spans of twenty years and more.

Appearance

Boas have a robust body and a fairly narrow neck supporting a triangular head. A great variation exists in coloration and pattern; usually they are described as gray, brown/pinkish snakes with a series of dark saddles running down their back. These saddles become darker and closer together towards the tail. In some animals, the tail takes a reddish coloration. Small black spots cover the whole body, including the ventral surface. These snakes are fast growing, reaching 4-5 feet within a year and may well reach 8 feet and a weight of 22 pounds within 3-4 years.

Boa constrictors live near bodies of fresh water in semi-desert regions, coastal deserts, grasslands, woodlands, rain and dry forests.

Suitability

Boa constrictors are not known for being aggressive but some may be more temperamental than others. Never trust a boa. Generally these snakes are indifferent to handling once they have been removed from their vivarium, but care should always be taken on the initial capture and removal. These snakes deserve a large enclosure that permits stretching out to full length and enough room to exercise. Alternatively, boas need regular exercise outside of smaller enclosures. All snakes can excrete Salmonella, and therefore routine personal hygiene and the supervision of all child-snake interactions are important.

Behavior

Boas are crepuscular and nocturnal, which means they are active at twilight, during the night and just before dawn, and they enjoy bathing and climbing. Most will tolerate others in the same enclosure, but particular care is required at feeding, as two snakes may strike at the same prey and injure themselves, possibly causing fatality. It is better to keep boas individually, and bring them together for breeding purposes.

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