snake-care

Dumeril’s Boa Care Sheet

February 12, 2021

dumeril's boa

 

Dumeril’s boas (Acrantophis dumerili) are 5-10’ long, crepuscular, terrestrial snakes native to Madagascar. They prefer dry forest habitats, and spend most of their time among the leaves on the forest floor.

Dumeril’s boas generally have a mottled pattern of peach, tan, brown, red, and/or gray, with a pale underside. They have rectangular heads, vertical pupils, and a muscular body. Females tend to be significantly larger and thicker than males.

Dumeril’s boas are known for their calm dispositions. However, due to their growth potential, they are intermediate-level pet reptiles. With good care, Dumeril’s boas have a 20+ year lifespan.

Minimum enclosure size for Dumeril’s boas

Due to the variation in adult size for Dumeril’s boas, it can be tricky to determine an appropriately sized enclosure. Knowing the boa’s sex and the length of its parents can give you a good estimate for its adult size, though. As a general rule, the absolute minimum enclosure size for a Dumeril’s boa will fit these requirements:

  • Length and width are equal to or greater than the snake’s expected adult length
  • Height is equal to or greater than half the snake’s expected adult length

Of course, larger is always better! 

Cohabitation (keeping multiple Dumeril’s boas in one enclosure) is not recommended.

Do Dumeril’s boas need UVB?

Technically they can survive without it, but we still recommend providing appropriate UVB lighting for Dumeril’s boas. UVB lighting helps provide a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and other benefits. 

The best UVB bulbs for Dumeril’s boas are:

  • Zoo Med Reptisun T5 HO 5.0
  • Arcadia Forest 6%

The bulb you buy should be approximately half the length of the enclosure. For best results, house the UVB bulbs in a reflective fixture from Arcadia or Vivarium Electronics. Position the lamp on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp, about 9-12” above the snake’s back if over mesh, and 12-14” above the snake’s back if not. 

UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so placing the terrarium in front of a window doesn’t count as “free UVB” — in fact it can make your terrarium too hot due to the greenhouse effect. Don’t forget to replace your bulb every 12 months!

Lights should be on for 13 hours/day during summer and 11 hours/day during winter to simulate seasonal cycles. This helps regulate the snake’s hormones, which may improve long-term health.

Best temperature for Dumeril’s boas

Like other reptiles, Dumeril’s boas are cold-blooded, which means that they rely on external temperatures to manage their own body temperature and metabolism. A reptile’s enclosure should offer a range of temperatures to allow them to thermoregulate effectively.

Specifically speaking, Dumeril’s boas should have a basking temperature of 88-90°F, and a cool side temperature between 70-75°F. Temperatures should be measured with at least two digital probe thermometers.

Provide heat for your snake with at least two halogen flood heat bulbs, placed close together over the basking area (ex: a piece of flagstone or stone paver) to evenly heat the snake’s entire body. Do not use colored bulbs, as these are not as effective. 

Heat sources should be turned off at night.

Best humidity levels for Dumeril’s boas

Dumeril’s boas need average ambient humidity levels of about 40-60%. There should also be a humid hide for your snake, lined with moistened sphagnum moss. Humidity should be measured via digital probe hygrometer, with the probe placed in the middle of the terrarium.

Increase humidity by misting your snake’s enclosure daily 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 humidity.

Best substrate for Dumeril’s boas

Providing a thick layer of naturalistic substrate (“bedding”) will help cushion your boa’s body, maintain correct humidity levels, and also helps make your enclosure more attractive! We recommend the following substrates for Dumeril’s boas:

  • Zoo Med Reptisand
  • Exo Terra Desert Sand
  • Zilla Jungle Mix

You can also make your own substrate with a mix of 60% clean topsoil and 40% play sand.

Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on top of the substrate can also help with humidity.

Substrate should be at least 3” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.

How to decorate a Dumeril’s boa enclosure

An empty terrarium makes for a bored boa, reducing its quality of life. Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment with the strategic use of decor items that encourage it to exercise natural behaviors!

Here are some ideas of ways to make your boa’s enclosure more functional:

What to feed to a Dumeril’s boa

Dumeril’s boas are carnivores, which means that they need to eat whole animal prey in order to get the right nutrition. Here is a basic feeding schedule based on snake age/size:

  • Hatchlings and juveniles (<3′): Every 7-10 days
  • Subadults (longer than 3′): Every 2-3 weeks
  • Adults (no longer growing): Every 3-4 weeks

Prey items should be around 10% of the snake’s weight and/or no wider 1.5x than the snake itself. Although live prey can be offered, it’s best to use frozen whenever possible. Prey should be thawed in a BPA-free plastic bag in warm water until it reaches ~100°F, then use a pair of soft-tipped feeding tweezers to offer it to your snake.

One of the keys to great nutrition is variety, so aside from offering mice and rats, hamsters, gerbils, young guinea pigs, young rabbits, chicks, and quail can also be used to add diversity to your snake’s diet.

Supplements

Dumeril’s boas can survive without supplementation, but using them every once in a while can help prevent your snake from developing a nutritional deficiency, helping it live healthier. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on the prey item before offering.

Water

Of course, don’t forget a large water bowl for your snake to drink from and soak in! Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.

How to handle your Dumeril’s boa

Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. That being said, Dumeril’s boas generally tolerate human interaction pretty well. When picking up your boa, be gentle and try to pick it up from the side or below rather than from above. Support as much of its body as possible, and NEVER pick it up by its tail, as this can damage its spine!


*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!


"File:Dumeril's Madagascar ground boa (Acrantophis dumerili) male Reniala.jpg" by Charles J Sharp is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0


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