How to Care for Your Boa Constrictor

February 10, 2021

boa constrictor


Boa constrictors (Boa sp.) are 6-10’ long, nocturnal, non-venomous snakes native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. Although there are three species and several subspecies, Boa constrictor constrictor are the ones called “red-tailed boas” and are found predominantly in South America. Their smaller cousins, Boa imperator, are native to Central America and are often called “Colombian” or “common” boas. This care sheet will refer to both subspecies as “boa constrictors”.

Boa constrictors generally have a cream, tan, or brown base color with darker bands, or “saddles” along their length. The bands are spaced closer together towards the tail, and some subspecies have a red or dark orange hue to their tail markings. A variety of color and pattern “morphs” have been developed in captivity. 

Due to their size and relative ease of taming, boa constrictors are intermediate-level pets.


The minimum enclosure size for an adult boa constrictor is 6-8’L x 2-3’W x 4-6’H. The lid must be secure to prevent escape. 

Substrate should be humidity-friendly and deep enough to properly cushion the snake’s body. Reptile soil, coconut fiber, and cypress mulch are appropriate substrates. Substrate should be replaced regularly to maintain hygiene.

In addition to substrate, the enclosure must also offer multiple hiding places, small enough to provide a snug fit for the snake. You will also need a large water bowl for soaking and at least one sturdy branch for climbing. Replace the water whenever soiled and scrub the bowl with animal-safe disinfectant regularly.

Humidity should be between 60-75% and can be maintained through misting 1-2x/day.

Heating and Lighting

Although boa constrictors are nocturnal, they still benefit from having access to UVB lighting. The bulb should be Zoo Med or Arcadia brand, half the length of the enclosure, and of an appropriate strength for boa constrictors. Replace the bulb every 12 months.

You will also need a cluster of halogen heat lamps to create a 95°F basking temperature. A temperature gradient should be maintained, with a maximum ambient temperature of 82°F on the cool side.

Heating and lighting should be turned off at night. 

Food and Supplementation

Like other snakes, boa constrictors are carnivorous. As pets, they primarily eat rats, quail, small chickens, guinea pigs, and small rabbits. Vary the size of the feeder with the size of the snake. Most adult boa constrictors are fed a single frozen and thawed large prey item (or several smaller prey items) every 4-8 weeks. Young boas should be fed every 1-2 weeks. Note that some Boa Constrictors will eat regularly throughout the year while others may eat less often or not at all during the winter. Like most snakes, Boa Constrictors aren’t likely to want to eat while they are shedding. If live prey is used, the snake must be supervised during feeding to ensure that it’s not harmed by the feeder.  

Although boa constrictors should be able to obtain all their nutritional needs from their whole prey diet. Occasionally dust feeders with Repashy CalciumPlus LoD to provide additional calcium, vitamin D3, and other vitamins and minerals to their diet.

*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to boa constrictors, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.


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