How do you care for a pet Red Tail Boa? (2023)

The red-tailed boa constrictor, also known asboa, is a very common choice as a pet snake. Red tail boas can be easily obtained from a breeder,pet Shop, or reptiles appear and are identified by the red coloring at the tip of their tails.

Red-tailed boas are native to Brazil and nearby areas, where they spend their time in rainforests and plains, and although their habitat varies, they are considered moderately arboreal.

Behavior and temperament of Red-tailed Boas

The red-tailed boa can be up to 11 feet long and can weigh up to 60 pounds when fully grown. They will live 20 to 30 years in captivity if well cared for and are great snakes for a pet owner. Red-tail boas should be seriously considered before purchasing due to their strength, size, the amount they eat, and their ability to contract. They are not legal to own everywhere, so be sure to check your local laws as well.

Part of the reason red-tail boas are so popular is their typically docile temperament. They are not usually aggressive snakes, but even if they are not agitated they can hurt a person very easily.contractile(hold on someone's hand, neck or arm) or bite you if you think your hand is eaten.

Housing Red Tail Boas

A 10-foot snake needs room to move and fully stretch out. While snakes feel secure when hiding under something and can curl up, they must also be able to stretch fully end to end without touching the sides. An enclosure that provides a minimum of 3 meters of space, a few meters high and two meters wide is sufficient for an adult red-tail boa.

(Video) Boa Constrictor Care Guide 2022 | Everything You Need To Know!

Perhaps the most important thing about housing a red-tailed boa constrictor is how safe it needs to be. All snakes are escape artists and push open lids and squeeze through small openings. All snake enclosures should have locks or latches to prevent escape, which can be dangerous for both the snake and the people living in the house. Placing a red boa tail inside a tied pillowcase works well for transporting or holding them temporarily while you clean out the compartment.

Since the redtail comes from a tropical environment, ease of maintaining humidity levels should be considered when setting up a cage. Glass or plexiglass sides and covers help keep the humidity higher (should be 60-80%) in a cabinet, but you'll want to make sure there's still plenty of air circulating inside and that nothing melts from the heaters.

Your snake needs a large, sturdy water bowl. He should be able to easily fit his entire body into the bowl for dipping. Red-tail boas should also have a box or place to escape the heat and snuggle in a quiet, hidden spot whenever they like. Many owners use wooden or cardboard boxes for fur and replace or clean them as needed. Tree branches may or may not be used by your snake.

your kindbeddingThe one you choose should be easy to clean, as a large snake produces a lot of waste. Paper towels are great for young red tail boas, and the indoor/outdoor reptile cage mat cut into removable sections is easy to clean once you have an adult snake. Other frequently used materials include reptile bark, reptile dirt mixes, and other natural floor coverings. Sand is not suitable for red-tail boas. they can swallow it causing digestive impaction.

lighting and heating

Since red-tail boas are from Brazil, they like their warm environment. A drop point of around 90 -92 degrees Fahrenheit should be maintained using heat lights or other means. But avoid using hot stones as they can cause thermal burns on a snake. The remainder of the tank can be located at mid 80's and at night it's safe to drop the temp into the 80's but not necessary. You can use a thermostat or heat gun to monitor the temperatures in your snakes' environment.

(Video) Your First Pet Boa Constrictor: A Complete Care Guide for Beginning Boa Keepers

Heat lights, ceramic heat emitters, under tank heaters, and incubator cages are all acceptable means of heating a snake cage. Just make sure your snake doesn't reach the heating element and get burned.

UVB lightingit's not mandatory for red-tailed boas, but if you want to provide supplemental white light during the day, a UVB light is a great option. It can even help stimulate appetite, reduce stress and make your snake a happier and more active snake.

food and water

Juvenile red-tailed boa constrictorcomefuzzies, then mice, then rats, and as adults they eat rabbits and large rats. When they are 3 feet long, they can eat small mice, and at just 5-7 feet, they can grow to prey size in large mice. The prey must bedead before feedingthem to your snake and are offered in an enclosure that is used for feeding only.

Do not feed your snake in its normal cage. This will reduce the chance that the snake will mistake you for food and accidentally bite you or ingest your substrate. The feeding tank should be covered with a towel when feeding to give your snake a sense of security, or you can place your snake's box in the feeding tank when feeding.

common health problems

The most serious disease that can affect boa constrictors is incarcerated body disease or IBD.This is a deadly retrovirus, similar to HIV in humans. This virus can remain dormant for years before the snake shows any signs of illness. This disease can be transmitted from snake to snake by direct contact, indirect contact through the air, and by mites, which carry infected body fluids. That's why it's a good idea to keep several pet snakes separate if possible.


IBD is characterized by a lack of appetite and excessive salivation, and in severe or more advanced cases, IBD causes snakes to lose control of their body movements.

Red-tailed boas are also susceptible to respiratory infections, characterized by wheezing and nasal discharge.Foamy discharge from a snake's mouth often indicates pneumonia, which requires immediate treatment.

Rot and blister disease are common in boa constrictors and are usually caused by unsanitary conditions.Blister disease can appear as burns on the snake's skin and is usually caused by overheated cages or a lack of moisture.

All of these conditions must be treated by aveterinarianspecializing in reptiles.

Choosing a Red Tailed Boa

Redtails are large, strong, long-lived snakes and are not for everyone. Feeding them can become more expensive as they get older, as does the time it takes to clean their cage. So make sure you are prepared and know what to expect before bringing home any pet, especially one that lives up to 30 years.

(Video) Ball Python Vs Boa Constrictor | Best Beginner Snake Challenge

Similar species to Red Tail Boa

If you haven't yet decided which boa constrictor is right for you, here are some other options to consider:

You may also want to check out all of our other snake breeds.Profile.


Are red tail boas easy to take care of? ›

Red tail boas are large, strong, long-lived snakes and aren't for everyone. Feeding them can become more expensive as they get larger, and so will the time it takes to clean their cage. Therefore, make sure you are prepared and know what to expect before taking home any pet, especially one that lives up to 30 years.

How hot is too hot for a red tail boa? ›

A red tail boa's enclosure should have a temperature of around 80°F at the cooler end and 88-90°F on the hot end, with a basking spot of 90-95°F.

How often should I handle my red tail boa? ›

To keep your boa comfortable with human interaction, handle it at least 1-2x/week, but no more than 1x/day.

How often do you feed red tail boa? ›

Newborn to 3-month-old red-tails 18 to 22 inches long should have a pinkie rat every four to five days. Juvenile snakes 3 to 12 months of age and 2 to 3 feet long may have one fuzzy or pup every seven days. Young adults between 1 and 2 years old and 3 to 4 feet long require a food item once every two weeks.

Do red tail boas like to be handled? ›

Red Tail Boas typically live a long time and while captive bred Red Tails are docile snakes that adapt to handling well you need to consistently handle your snake to keep it that way.

Do boas need baths? ›

Boas like most constrictors like to bathe for extended periods and therefore a water container large enough for the snake to completely immerse itself is essential, especially if shedding is to occur normally.

What is the best bedding for a red tail boa? ›

Boa Constrictors can be housed on Zoo Med's Aspen Snake Bedding, Forest Floor™ cypress mulch, Eco Earth® or ReptiBark®. We recommend a substrate layer of 2.5-3″ in depth. Provide moistened New Zealand Sphagnum Moss in a Repti Shelter™ to create a humidity chamber.

What do boas need in their tank? ›

Use a humidity monitor to keep track of the air's moisture. A wide, shallow bowl of water in the tank can help provide humidity, and these snakes enjoy regular misting, particularly during the summer months. Flooring: The enclosure's substrate must be comfortable for the snake as well as easy to clean.

Should I mist my boa? ›

The Common Boa will need high humidity of about 60 - 70% - so a good substrate choice is important as well as misting and possibly the use of foggers. Mist according to the readings of an accurate digital hygrometer to ensure this humidity isn't exceeded, which can become detrimental to the snake.

What is the best setup for a boa? ›

Typical full-grown adult boas should be housed in cages no smaller than 4 feet long by 2 feet wide. A hide should also be provided which will allow the boa to feel safe and secure, it is best to offer two hides, one on the warm side of the enclosure and one on the cool side.

Do red tail boa bites hurt? ›

The boa constrictor is non-venomous, instead killing their prey by attacking and suffocating. Boa constrictors swallow their prey whole. It is also possible for these snakes to bite, but their bites are painful not poisonous.

Do red tail boas like to swim? ›

Like its cousin, the green anaconda, the boa constrictor has impressive swimming abilities. However, unlike other snakes, it shows little inclination toward swimming in water. Instead, boa constrictors prefer to stay on dry land, either inside of hollow logs or abandoned animal burrows.

How often do red tail boa drink water? ›

Water: While these snakes do not drink extensively – they get the moisture they need from the blood of their prey – they will require a dish of water for occasional soaking to ease shedding.

Does snake recognize owner? ›

Snakes are able to recognise and distinguish between humans and may recognise the scent of their owner as familiar or positive with time. However, snakes are unable to view humans as companions so cannot form a bond with their owner like other pets can.

At what age is a red tail boa full grown? ›

Columbian Red Tailed Boa Fact Sheet
Age of maturity:18 months – 3 years
Size:Females 7 – 9 ft Males 6 – 8 ft
Weight:Females, the larger sex, usually weight 20 – 30 lbs.
Size at birth:Around 24 in. long
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How do I know if my boa is hungry? ›

How To Know When Your Snake is Hungry. Snakes will let you know when they're hungry. They will start prowling their enclosure and their tongue flicks will increase in frequency and number.

What is the best bedding for boa constrictor? ›

You can use many types of bedding for your boa constrictor. The ones that look the best and help hold some humidity are Zoo Med repti bark, Zilla jungle mix, Zoo Med eco earth, and Zoo Med forest floor. Zoo med aspen bedding is another good choice, just watch that it doesn't get too wet.

Do red tail boas need heat at night? ›

Red Tail Boas need a humidity level of 40 to60 percent. the day time, the hot end of the enclosure should be set at 90–95 degrees fahrenheit, and the cool end at about 78 degrees. At night, temperatures can be in the mid to low 70's. Use a thermometer to check the temperatures.

Are boas high maintenance? ›

Boas can be terrific, safe-to-keep, low-maintenance pets. They are often active and alert, and usually tolerate handling well. Captive boa constrictors can live in excess of 20 years with proper care and husbandry.

Do boas need light? ›

Despite being crepuscular species (active at dawn and dusk), boa constrictors appear to benefit from UV-b light. A low percentage UV light is recommended. This will need to be on all day for 12 hours and at an appropriate distance from the snake as recommended by the manufacturer.

Do boas need heat at night? ›

Do boa constrictors need heat at night? Unlikely, unless your home gets particularly cold. According to a general survey of nighttime temperatures in boa constrictor habitat, night temperatures can (and should) drop to as low as 68°F (20°C) at night with no ill effect.

How do I know if my boa is dehydrated? ›

Signs of dehydration in reptiles include dry or tacky (sometimes pale) mucous membranes, sunken eyes, and wrinkled skin.

Do boa constrictors like to be held? ›

Boa constrictors are usually very docile and tolerate handling very well. They often seem to enjoy being held and will seek out an area on your arm or shoulders and enjoy your body warmth. They may crawl around for a few minutes before hunkering down to grab some heat.

Do red tail boas make noise? ›

If threatened the red tailed boa can let out a loud hiss which can be heard up to 100 feet away. By flicking their tongue they can locate their prey by scent.

How long do red tail boas live? ›

This allows for the animal to potentially live out the extent of its natural lifespan. For red tail boas, this means being able to live for around 20-30 years. This is an animal that's going to stick around for a while. You should consider this level of commitment before purchasing one.

Is Red Tail Boa a good beginner snake? ›

Red-tailed boas are my favorite choice for a first snake, especially for those who prefer a larger pet. They are easy to care for and are generally quite docile.

How often do you mist a boa constrictor? ›

Best humidity levels for boa constrictors

Increase humidity by misting your snake's enclosure 1-2x/day with a spray bottle. Mist first thing in the morning and then again at night if needed. Mixing water directly into the substrate also helps with maintaining high humidity.

How often should I feed my pet 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. Adjust feeding to maintain a good body condition in your snake.

What temp do boas like at night? ›

Temperature and Humidity

The preferred optimal temperature zone during the day is between 27-29 C (80-85F), with a basking spot up to 35C (95F). Night time lows can be between 21-27C (70-80F). Thermostatically controlled fiberglass heat mats are an excellent way to provide the proper thermal environment.

What kind of light does a red tail boa need? ›

Boa constrictors do best with a 13:11 photoperiod, which means that they like 13 hours of light followed by 11 hours of darkness. During the winter months this can be switched to 11 hours of daylight and 13 hours of darkness.

What temperature do boas like? ›

Common boas require a day-time temperature of 86F with a basking spot of around 88F. The best way to achieve this is to use a ceramic heat emitter on one side of the enclosure being controlled by either a pulse proportional thermostat.

Why is my boa hissing? ›

Similar to a dog's growl, a snake's hiss generally means “back off!” Snakes usually hiss when they feel threatened, angry, or annoyed.

How big of a cage does a red tail boa need? ›

Once your red-tail boa measures 3 or 4 feet in length, it needs adult-sized caging. A sufficient-sized cage for adult boas measuring up to 8 feet long is a container with 8 square feet of floor space, such as containers measuring 4 feet by 2 feet. A cage height between 18 and 24 inches is OK.

Why is my red tail boa foaming at the mouth? ›

More advanced cases of pneumonia will have your boa secreting a foamy, cheese-like substance from its mouth and throat region. If you notice this secretion, take your snake to the vet at once.

Should I feed my boa in a separate tank? ›

Spoiler: No. People feed their snakes in different enclosures for two reasons. The main concern is that a snake will go into "feeding mode" when you open and reach into their usual enclosure if they are fed in that same space. Then, once the enclosure's open, they may bite you after mistaking you for prey.

Is red tail boa a good beginner snake? ›

Red-tailed boas are my favorite choice for a first snake, especially for those who prefer a larger pet. They are easy to care for and are generally quite docile.

What tank does a red tail boa need? ›

They will need an enclosure that measures 6' x 2' x 2'. Finding enclosures this large can be difficult and they are often custom made. Baby Boas can be kept in a 10-gallon aquarium. Most species quickly outgrow this so it is best to start with a 20-gallon long terrarium.

What is the friendliest snake? ›

One number one choice for the best snake pet is the corn snake. Of the bunch, corn snakes are considered the most docile and gentle. They are also known for being easy to handle and easy to feed.

What do boas like in their cage? ›

Each enclosure should have 2-3 hides available, including one on the warmer side of the cage and one on the cooler side. Temperature: These snakes prefer habitats that range from 82-90 degrees during the day and only drop to 78-85 degrees at night.

Do boas like clutter? ›

Snakes like clutter for a couple of reasons. First, it gives them a good spot to hide from predators. Second, snakes are reptiles, which means they need warmth to survive.

How cold can a red tail boa get? ›

According to climate data from boa constrictor habitat, boas are likely to be able to easily endure night drops as low as 68°F/20°C. If your room temps get lower than this at night, you will need a thermostat-regulated, lightless heat source to supplement.

How long do red tail boas live in captivity? ›

However, the expected lifespan is 20-30 years when in captivity. As big as this boa may be when full-grown, they are easy to care for and are great pets for beginners.


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