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Boa Constrictor Care

By: Dr. Steve Divers

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Sexing

Differentiation between males and females is best achieved by 'probing'. A blunt lubricated sexing probe is inserted inside the caudal rim of the cloacal, either side of the midline, and directed backwards. In males the probe will pass into the hemipenal sulcus to a depth of 6 to 12 subcaudal scales. In females the probe enters the cloacal gland to a depth of around 4 subcaudal scales. The technique of probing can cause serious harm if undertaken incorrectly, and therefore should only be carried out by experienced persons using the correct tools.

Breeding

Boas usually breed in the winter, when the night time temperature should be cooled down to 70 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit as most breeding appears to occur between 70 to 75 F. They are unreliable breeders, pairs have failed to breed even when conditions seem excellent, and the use of compatible pairs or larger groups appears to improve results.

As a general rule it is recommended to keep the male and female separately. As the time comes the male is introduced in the female's cage. The best results are get with captive-raised animals because imported adults may take several years before breeding in captivity.

The quoted gestation length varies from 127 to 249 days (average 167 days) and is likely due to variations in the timing of ovulation, mating and sperm storage. Ovulation appears to be characterized by a distinct mid-body swelling which often subsides. However, 105-108 days from the first skin shed following the appearance of the midbody swelling appears to be an accurate expected birth date.

Females give birth to live young. Babies are born around May to September, and the litter size can vary from 8 to 60 (average 25). Each neonate measures 12 to 24 inches at birth. For the babies' first feed they should be offered pink or fuzzy mice.

Common Diseases

  • Mites
  • Burns (unshielded heaters)
  • Stomatitis (mouth rot)
  • Boid inclusion body disease
  • Dysecdysis (poor skin shedding)
  • Pneumonia (esp. bacterial respiratory disease)
  • Gastroenteritis (bacterial or protozoan eg. Entamoeba invadens)
  • Obesity
  • Abcesses
  • Ticks (wild caught specimens)
  • Tapeworms, round worms, pentastomids (wild caught specimens)
  • Star gazing disease (protozoan, viral or bacterial meningitis)

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