Colombian red tailed boas
The Colombian red tailed boa (Constrictor imperator) is from Colombia, and has made its way into the pet trade. These boas are fun to keep, and fairly docile. Be sure to research their requirements before purchasing one, and be sure you have the space for one. A red tailed boa will become quite large.
Colombian red tailed boas will grow large both in length and in width. A fully grown female boa will reach about 8-10 feet long and males stay around 7 feet. Neonates, or young red tailed boas, will start at about 18-20 inches. These snakes grow fairly slowly, and will still be growing after one year.
These days Colombian red tailed boas come in a wide variety of colors, but the normal coloring is a brown and tan body down to the tail. The tail will be crimson, but it is possible that a red tailed boa will not have a red tail at all.
These boas will live for 25 years with proper care, so be ready for it before you even bring one home.
Hatchling Colombian red tailed boas will nip and bite you because you are so much bigger than them. As they grow, and positive handling sessions occur over time, the can become very docile. Wild caught red tailed boas will be aggressive, but there are so many captive bred boas that finding one that is wild caught would be difficult.
Constrictors in general are smart snakes so you never want them to remember a bad experience with you because they may attack out of defense the next time you simply want to spend some time with them. To avoid negative experiences, do not disturb a sleeping snake and give them 48 hours to digest their food. Have a set time and day you feed your snake and do not handle it during this time. They will help a snake know you are not food and you want to take it out of the cage.
Colombian red tailed boas when young will take mice and pinkie rats, but adults may need larger prey items. Neonates will start eating after their first shed. They will take mice and even pinkie mice. A good rule is to feed animals about the same size around as the snake. Babies should be fed about once a week.
Adults need larger prey items like adult rats. The same rule applies with adults as it does with hatchlings. Adults only need to be fed every 10 days or so.
You can alter your snake‚Äö?Ñ?¥s growth through feeding, if done correctly. Some keepers want huge boas, so they will feed them much more when they are growing. Others want a smaller snake so they feed them less. This works, but caution must be taken because if a snake becomes overly hungry and you reach in to hold it, it may attack anything out of sheer hunger. If you want a smaller snake then simply don‚Äö?Ñ?¥t get a red tailed boa.
Red tailed boas like to have their space, and don‚Äö?Ñ?¥t always like to share it. It is best if you only keep one boa per enclosure to avoid any problems. Babies and juveniles should start out in smaller cages (20-30 gallons) to avoid getting lost and make finding prey easier. As they grow out of these cages, they should be upgraded to newer and larger enclosures. Glass aquariums can get expensive so many keepers simply use large plastic tubs for adults. Just be sure they have a lid and proper ventilation.
Red tailed boas do not require much height so branches and extra foliage may not be used if provided. An adult will need a cage with a minimum size of 6‚Äö?Ñ?¥ long, and 4‚Äö?Ñ?¥ deep. Larger enclosures are always appreciated.
Many substrates are acceptable for this type of boa. You can use old newspapers, paper towels, butcher paper, cypress mulch, indoor turf or even carpeting. Whatever you use, it is good to keep in mind that red tailed boas can be messy, and your substrate will need to be cleaned and replaced often. Replace substrate as needed. If you use carpet or Astroturf, it is a good idea to have two identical pieces so one can be in use while the other one is being washed.
Hides are necessary for reptiles. Hides will give them a place to feel safe and tucked away. Without one, reptiles feel out in the open and vulnerable. Have two hides as a minimum. They do not have to be anything fancy, but your boa should always feel snug and protected in it. This means they may have to be replaced when a young boa is still growing.
Hollow rocks and logs found at pet stores are good options and they make a tank look nice. You can also use empty, upside down flowerpots with a hole for the to get in and out. Anything is acceptable as long as it is safe and secure.
Reptiles are ectotherms meaning they require an external heat source to live. Without enough heat they cannot move, digest, or think right. Eventually their bodies will cease to work. A basking spot of 90F should be provided on one end of the enclosure. This is called the warm side, and this is the only heat source needed for the entire cage. Reptiles also need to thermoregulate, or avoid becoming too hot or too cold. Give them a cooler option and a warmer option.
Use a basking light as a heat source, but be sure it is out of the cage. These lights can burn a snake. At night, all heat can be turned off. Timers are very helpful and having a timer set to 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark will keep your snake on schedule. Never use hot rocks because they are not meant for boas.
Red tailed boas need their cage to be sprayed once a week. If they are shedding, the cage can be sprayed 2-3 times a week. You will also want to provide a large water bowl big enough for them to soak in. Red tailed boas will not often be found soaking in the bowl, but it is not completely uncommon.
These snakes can get a little messy so you will want to spot clean daily. Replace all substrates after 2-3 months, and mist the cage weekly. Red tailed boas may go to the bathroom in their water bowl so be sure fresh water can be found in the tank at all times.
Breeding red tailed boas is a complicated process. They require exact humidity, light cycles, temperatures and a winter cooling. There are many websites out there for a keeper attempting to breed that goes beyond the means of this care sheet.
Hatchlings are fairly small, and will nip. They are small creatures in a big world and they will attack anything that looks threatening. Babies can be kept together until about 4 months of age, but they need to be closely monitored. Keep track of each hatchling‚Äö?Ñ?¥s feeding schedule, and size. If you notice one boa is bigger or smaller than the rest, separate it before problems can occur.
They will start taking pinkie or fuzzy mice after their first shed, which is about a week. Make sure they have enough space, and mist their enclosure weekly. It is enjoyable to watch a small neonate grow to become a 10 foot giant.
Red tailed boas are great to own. They will get pretty big, but are friendly if treated well. Like any pet, they need to be checked up on daily. Keep their enclosure clean, and it is perfectly all right to spend some time with them. This is not a good first snake to own. They demand attention and are worth it in the end however. Be sure to research your pet‚Äö?Ñ?¥s needs thoroughly before purchasing one. This will make both of your lives easier.
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