How to Care for a Red Tail Boa as a Pet

Red tail boa on a branch with leaves in the background

The red tail boa, often known as the boa constrictor, is a popular choice for a pet snake. Red tail boas are easily identified by their red striped colouring on the end of their tail and can be purchased from a breeder, pet store, or reptile exhibit.

Red tail boas are native to Brazil and nearby areas where they spend their time in rain forests and lowlands and while their environments vary they are considered moderately arboreal.

Behavior and Temperament of Red Tail Boas

When fully mature, the red tail boa may reach a length of 11 feet and weigh up to 60 pounds. If properly cared for, they may survive for 20 to 30 years in captivity and are large snakes for the ordinary pet owner. Because of their power, size, appetite, and propensity to constrict, red tail boas should be carefully evaluated before being acquired. They are not allowed to own in every state, so double-check your local regulations.

The fact that red tail boas are often gentle contributes to their popularity. They aren't normally hostile snakes, but even when they aren't, they can do harm to a human by (clinging to a person's hand, neck, or arm) or biting you if they mistake your hand for food.

Housing Red Tail Boas

A 11-foot snake need some space to crawl around and stretch out completely. While snakes feel safe when they can curl up and hide behind something, they should also be able to extend out completely without touching the edges. An adult red tail boa requires an enclosure of at least 10 feet of floor area, a couple of feet of height, and a couple of feet of width.

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of a red tail boa enclosure is how safe it must be. Snakes are all escape artists and will push their way through unsecured lids and minor gaps. All snake cages should have locks or latches to prevent escape, which is harmful for both the snake and the people in the house. A red tail boa can be transported or temporarily held inside a tied pillowcase while their enclosure is being cleaned.

Because red tail boas are native to the tropics, the ease with which they can maintain humidity levels should be considered while putting up a cage. Glass or plexiglass sides and lids assist to retain humidity in an enclosure higher (60-80 percent is ideal), but you must ensure that enough air can circulate inside and that nothing melts due to the heating equipment.

A big, durable water dish is required for your snake. It should be able to fit its complete body inside the bowl and soak comfortably. Red tail boas should also have a hide box or a quiet, secluded area to wrap up in when they wish to escape the heat. Many owners store their hides in wooden or cardboard crates, which they replace or clean as needed. Your snake may or may not use tree branches.

Because a large snake generates a lot of waste, the you pick should be easy to clean. When you have an adult red tail boa, paper towels work well, and reptile cage carpet or indoor/outdoor carpet split into separate portions is easy to clean. Reptile bark, reptile soil mixes, and other natural floor coverings are frequently employed as well. Sand is not good for red tail boas since it might cause a digestive impaction if they eat it.

Lighting and Heating

Because red tail boas are native to Brazil, they like warm climates. Heat lamps or other techniques should be used to maintain a basking area of roughly 90-92 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot rocks, on the other hand, should be avoided since they might cause thermal burns in a snake. The remainder of the tank may be in the mid-80s, and it's okay if the temperature goes into the lower 80s at night, but it's not necessary. Temperatures in your snake's surroundings may be monitored using a thermostat or a thermal temperature gun.

Heat lamps, ceramic heat emitters, under tank heaters, and incubator cages are all viable options for keeping a snake cage warm. Simply ensure that your snake cannot reach the hot source and harm itself.

Although is not required for red tail boas, it is an excellent way to provide extra white light during the day. It may also aid in the stimulation of hunger, the reduction of tension, and the overall happiness and activity of your snake.

Food and Water

Red tail boas consume fuzzies, mice, rats, and rabbits and huge rats as juveniles, then rabbits and giant rats as adults. They can consume little rats when they are 3 feet long, and when they are 5-7 feet long, they can devour giant rats. Prey items should be killed before being fed to your snake and placed in a dedicated feeding area.

Do not feed your snake in its normal cage; this will reduce the chances of it mistaking you for food and biting you or eating its substrate. To give your snake a sense of security, cover the feeding tank with a towel when feeding, or place your snake's hide box in the feeding tank while feeding.

Common Health Problems

Inclusion body disease, or IBD, is the most devastating condition that may affect boa constrictors. This retrovirus is deadly, similar to HIV in humans. This virus might remain latent for years before the snake becomes unwell. This illness is spread from snake to snake by direct touch, indirect transmission through the air, and mites that transport diseased body fluids. This is why, if at all feasible, keeping numerous pet snakes separated is a smart idea.

IBD is marked by poor appetite and excessive saliva, and in serious or more advanced cases, IBD causes snakes to lose control of their bodily movements.

Wheezing and nasal discharge are also symptoms of respiratory illnesses in red tail boas. A foamy discharge from a snake's mouth implies pneumonia, which has to be treated very once.

Both scale rot and blister illness are frequent in boa constrictors, and both are generally caused by poor sanitation. Overheated cages or a lack of humidity are the most common causes of blister illness, which appears as burns on the snake's skin.

All of these ailments should receive treatment from a who specializes in reptiles.

Choosing a Red Tail Boa

Red tail boas are enormous, powerful, and long-lived snakes that are not suitable for everyone. As they grow bigger, feeding them and cleaning their cage will become more expensive. As a result, before bringing home any pet, especially one that can live up to 30 years, make sure you are prepared and know what to anticipate.

Similar Species to the Red Tail Boa

If you're undecided about which boa is right for you, here are some other options to consider:

You also may want to check out all of our other snake breed 


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