Provide your boa constrictor with a basking spot of 88-90°F and an ambient (background) temperature of 78-82 °F. The ambient temperature should not fall below 75 °F. It is vitally important to KNOW the temperatures at which you are keeping your snake(s). DO NOT GUESS!! A great way to monitor temps is to use a digital indoor/outdoor thermometer with a probe. Stick the thermometer to the inside of the cage on the cool end and place the probe on the warm end, and you'll have both sides covered at once.
There are several ways to go about heating the enclosure: undercage heating pads, ceramic heat emitters, basking bulbs (both regular daytime & red "night" bulbs) are just a few. With heat emitters & bulbs it is necessary to really keep an eye on the humidity within the enclosure, especially if combined with a screen top, as both will dry the air quickly. Use thermostats, rheostats and/or timers to control your heat source. Do not use hot rocks with snakes as they often heat unevenly over too small of a surface area & can cause serious burns.
Providing proper humidity for boas is important to help ensure complete sheds and your boa's overall comfort, but as stated previously too much humidity can be as problematic as too little. First off, let's establish "humidity" as the amount of moisture in the air. To provide your snake with a humidity level of 50% - 60%, you have a couple of options
1. Use cypress mulch or a similar substrate that can be misted & is mold-resistant. Cypress is good for this as it turns a tan color when dry & a rich brown when wet, giving a visual cue as to when it needs to be dampened again.
2. Make a "humidity box" for your snake. This consists of packing a hut with damp sphagnum moss (think well-wrung-out wash cloth to gauge moisture) & placing it in your python's enclosure so that it can access the box as it pleases.
Keep in mind that if you have a screen top on the enclosure you will probably want to cover it most or all of the way with plastic, a towel or some other means of keeping moisture from escaping. This is also where having proper, reliable ambient temperatures (back to that thermometer!) is important, as warm air holds more moisture than cool air. You want the enclosure to be humid, not WET. A soggy cage can eventually lead to bacterial & fungal infections and even death.
A UVB bulb is recommended for red-tailed boas and should run on a 12/12 cycle, meaning 12 hours on & 12 hours off. Continuous bright, overhead lighting is stressful to snakes, especially a nocturnal serpent such as this one.
One cage accessory that will be appreciated & utilized by your boa is a good hide box...maybe even a couple of them. Boas are nocturnal snakes that will make use of a place to hide during the day. Provide one on each end of your boa's enclosure so that it doesn't have to choose between temperature & security. Commercially available hide boxes work quite well.
Additional cage furniture can be included for boas - some seem to enjoy climbing branches, and live, harmless plants can help raise cage humidity. Just remember that the more things you put into an enclosure, the more you have to take out, clean & disinfect on a regular basis.
Notes and Comments
Boa constrictors are the most popular "larger" pet snake, and it is easy to see why. With their docile nature and beautiful array of pattern & color variations these snakes are truly a joy to keep & interact with. Their manageable size and fairly simple care requirements make it easy for enthusiasts to manage substantial collections of boas, and healthy, captive bred babies are readily available throughout the industry.
Click on the PDF icon to download a PDF copy of this document.
Receive special offers and discount coupons, directly to your email box, type in the security code and submit your email address. Rest assured that Petware House will not share your email address with parties outside our company.