Red Tailed Boa Constrictors are a favorite snake breed by many enthusiasts. This is considered a large snake, growing up to 10 feet by the time they are mature adults. There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before taking on a snake which can at times, be quite a handful. Are you prepared to own a snake that can grow to 10 feet, weigh as much as an adult human, keep in a large enclosure, and will have to feed probably hundreds of animals during it’s lifetime? If the answer is yes, and this particular boa seems like the perfect pet for you, than please keep reading.
Baby and young Red Tails can be set up in a cage as small as a 20 gallon container, but will quickly outgrow that. Adults will end up needing a 6x2x4 enclosure for the boa to live comfortably. There is no such thing as an enclosure for boas, so the larger the cage you can afford (or build) the happier your boa will be. They love to climb if you can provide them a fake tree to dangle from. Many snakes, including this boa, are great escape artists, so make sure your cage is tamper proof. Do not house different snake species together.
Red-Tailed Boa Housing
Size – 20 gallon for baby/ young boas, 6ftx2ftx4ft of larger for adult boas.
Substrate – Aspen shavings, mulch-type such as coconut fiber bedding or reptile bark; dampened sphagnum moss.
Temperature – Temperature gradient (95°F for the warm end and 75° for the cool end); recommend radiant heat (like a UTH).
Habitat – Provide a hiding area just large enough for your snake to fit inside and a branch or décor to climb on. Maintain 40 to 60% humidity; preferably a bit higher during shedding period.
Lighting – Provide 8 to 12 hours of light daily, preferably with an automatic timer so you don’t forget to turn on/off. Don’t leave white light on at all times; a nocturnal or infrared light should be used at night.
Grooming & Hygiene
- Snakes will regularly shed their outer skin; ensure humidity of habitat is at a bit higher level to allow snake to shed easier.
- Never try to remove eye caps (eye shed) by yourself. Seek veterinary care or advice if the snake is having trouble doing this on its own.
Signs of a Healthy Snake
- Active and alert (moves around frequently, responsive to owner). If your snake starts becoming lethargic it may be too cold, or you need to handle it more.
- Clear eyes (except when shedding)
- Eats meals regularly.
- Healthy skin. Should have a sheen, no missing scales or weird discolorations.
- Regularly sheds skin in one complete piece.
- Free of mites and ticks; may be hard to spot, but checking for them regularly is advised. Especially if you live with dogs, cats or any other mammals.
Signs of Poor Health
- Unusually frequent or infrequent shedding. May be a sign of nutrient deficiency or improper temperature/humidity. See veterinary advice.
- Are you using the correct substrate? Snakes could ingest improper substrate and make themselves sick.
- Lethargic or reluctant to eat. Are you handling your snake enough? They need to spend some time being held for exercise every so often. See additional feeding advice here.
- Abnormal feces. Could be improper substrate, or a spoiled rodent (if fed from frozen).
- Bumps or spots on skin. Probably ticks or mites – need to clean container.
- Labored breathing. Infection possibly – seek veterinary advice.
- Difficulty shedding. Improper humidity, weak muscles or poor diet. Seek veterinary advice.
- White, cheesy substance in mouth. Could be infection, dehydration, or poor nutrition.