Rainbow boas (Epicrates cenchria cenchria and Epicrates cenchria maurus) are 5-7’ long, nocturnal, non-venomous snakes native to South America. Rainbow boas generally have a red or orange base color with a pattern of dark rings. The structure of their scales creates an iridescent effect when exposed to light — thus the name “rainbow” boa!
Due to their husbandry needs and fairly defensive temperaments, rainbow boas are generally considered to be an intermediate-level pet snake.
A single rainbow boa should be housed in no smaller than a 4’x2’x2’ enclosure. Larger is always better, especially extra height for climbing room.
Substrate should be able to hold humidity well. Appropriate materials include reptile soil, coconut fiber, sphagnum moss, and cypress mulch. Substrate should be kept clean and replaced regularly.
In addition to substrate, rainbow boas need branches to climb on and access to multiple secure hiding places, including a humid burrow lined with moistened sphagnum moss. Live or artificial plants can be very useful for providing cover and helping maintain humidity.
Humidity is a very important component of rainbow boa care, and needs to be kept between 75-90%. This can be maintained by misting 2-3x/day and installing a cool mist humidifier to run during the night. Also make sure to provide a water bowl large enough for the snake to soak its entire body.
Heating and Lighting
Since rainbow boas are nocturnal, they can survive without UVB lighting, but exposure to appropriate UVB is necessary for optimum health. It also helps highlight their natural iridescence, especially when a 6500K fluorescent or LED grow light is also added.
The daytime temperature inside the enclosure should be between 80-85°F. A slight temperature drop, not lower than the high 70’s, is allowed at night. It’s crucial, especially for E.c. cenchria, for the enclosure not to get warmer than 85°F, or else they can experience heat stroke. Daytime heating should be provided via a cluster of at least two halogen flood heat bulbs. Nighttime heating should be provided with a radiant heat panel connected to a thermostat.
Food and Supplementation
Like other snakes, rainbow boas are carnivorous. In captivity, they primarily eat mice and small rats, but they also eat chicks and young quail. Vary the size of the feeder with the width of the snake. Juvenile rainbow boas should be fed 1x/week, while adult rainbow boas should be fed once every 2-3 weeks. If live prey is used, the snake and feeder must be supervised to prevent injury.
Although rainbow boas should be able to get all of their nutrients from a whole prey diet, it’s helpful to occasionally dust the feeder with Repashy CalciumPlus LoD to help cover any gaps in their nutrition.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to rainbow boas please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.