The boa constrictor is a big non-venomous snake native to Central and South America. Of all of the subspecies, the most well known is the red tailed boa constrictor (boa constrictor constrictor). The common name refers to a deep red/brown coloration on the saddles on the tail and anterior portion of the back.
Female boa constrictors, as with most snakes, tend to be larger and more muscular than the men.
Home: As the adult boa is rather large, you want to deliver a large enclosure. Always keep in mind that a boa is a really strong snake and that it may either split the enclosure, if it’s not properly designed for snakes, or escape it easily if openings are not secured. As a largely terrestrial snake, elevation of the enclosure isn’t so important, although sturdy branches should be provided to make use of what height you have, since some specimens will climb, especially when young.
Substrate: One of the biggest secrets related to red tailed snakes is the substrate. The most common one is the paper towels or newspaper, since they are easily replaceable and hygienic. You’ll also be able to monitor the conditions in the cage this way; once your pet is set and you don’t have to generate any more changes, then you can buy one of the commercial substrates, which are especially made for snake tanks. These are usually made of cypress and fir bark. There are some elements that needs to be avoided, such as pine and cedar, since they can harbour parasites, and have toxins present which in an enclosed space can be hazardous to your snake’s health. Many boa constrictor owners use Astroturf as a more natural looking alternative to paper towels. In any case you should use something which is both easy to clean and safe.
Habitat: The red tailed boas are reclusive need places to hide. Hides can be offered in the form of artificial plastic caves, upturned bowls, or even cardboard boxes. Using rocks is also a good idea, as long as they do not have any sharp edges and are securely fastened so they can’t be dislodged and fall onto your boa.
Heat and Light: While no special lighting is required, a suitable temperature gradient must be provided. A thermostatically controlled heat source, such as a ceramic bulb heater, should be set up to provide a temperature range from around 29 – 33 C at the warm end, to 27 – 29 C at the cooler end. A drop of a few degrees at night is also a fantastic idea.
Food and Water: Most boas will readily accept defrosted rodents. A single prey item, no bigger than the snake’s head, should be offered fortnightly for adults, and weekly for neonates. A large bowl of fresh water should always be offered.