Keeping Reptiles Newsletter
  Issue 7 Vol 4 September 2009
Housing and Feeding a Red Tailed Boa In this Issue

Red Tailed BoaBefore you consider owning a Red Tailed Boa, there are two things you must be sure of. Is it legal in my area and do I want a snake that can grow to as large as 15 feet? Finding out if the snake is legal can be as easy as seeking the advice of a good reputable breeder and then double checking what you are told with your local authorities. The size factor is totally up to you. If you do not want a big snake, then you do not want to own a Red Tailed Boa.

The other factor to consider is cost. Snakes and their care are not cheap. The housing and ongoing costs can mount up, so unless you are prepared to put in the time, effort and money, having a boa may not be for you.

That being said, in order to get the most out of your Red Tailed Boa you will need to know how to properly house and feed the snake. They are on of the most tame, friendly and manageable snakes available.


The Red Tailed Boa will grow several feet per year so when it comes to picking out the tank make sure that you choose one that the snake can grow into. A tank that is 20 gallons is a great start but won’t last very long before you has to replace it. It is better to buy big once then it is to have to constantly upgrade the tank as the years go on.

The temperature of the tank should be kept at 85 degrees during the day and around 80 degrees at night. If the snake is too cold you are setting yourself up for all sorts of problems such as digestive problems or the refusal of food all together.

When you choose a substrate don’t use sand or cedar. Newspaper works well but an active Red Tailed Boa will get covered by the ink in no time so it may be to your advantage to seek out a local printer and buy from them some plain white paper that has no print on it. Make sure that soiled substrate is removed at once and maintain a regular cleaning schedule. This is imperative for any snake.


The Red Tailed Boa is like most snakes and is carnivorous so you may nneed to be prepared to feed it live prey at the beginning. Most snakes will take pre-killed prey and it is safer for the snkae in the longer term. There are endless stories of snakes being bitten and even killed by live prey. Captive snakes sometimes lacke the same instinctive reactions to live prey. What prey to feed the snake depends on the size of the snake. Whatever prey you choose to feed to your snake it should be roughly the same diameter as the snake. Giving you snake prey that is too big in diameter is a recipe for disaster.

Frozen rats are one of the most common foods. These are generally raised in desease free environments and easily obtained. They need to be thawed before feeding. The best way to do it is to pull the rat out of your freezer, place it in a Ziploc bag and submerge it in warm (not piping hot) water. You can measure the water temperature with your hand. If it's too hot to submerge your hand in it, it's too hot for thawing. It might make the rat's stomach explode in the water and it's a big nasty mess!

You should leave the rat submerged in the water for about 15-30 minutes (depending on what size it is) to assure it's insides are also thawed thoroughly. Once it's done thawing, take the bag out of the water but don't open the bag yet! This is a pretty good trick for stubborn feeders.

Take the bag with the rat inside it, some paper towels, and some tongs to the Boa's tank. Open the door or lid to your Boa's home, and get its attention however you feel necessary. Don't let it smell you too much or it might bite your hand, thinking it's food. From there, take the rat out of the bag and roll it dry on the paper towels. It's okay if the rat is sopping wet after taking it out of the bag, just dry it off with some paper towels and it'll be fine. The bag was there to keep the scent in (yes, it stinks), rather than keeping it dry. Once the scent is released, the snake will be alerted and know that food is on its way. Once the rat is dry, take it by the tail, using the tongs, and lower it into the tank. Let the rat hover above the Boa's head for as long as it takes. You should see the Boa smelling it with its tongue, and their body slightly moving. Incase you were wondering, this is the Boa moving into a striking position. Be patient and continue dangling the rat. The Boa should snatch the rat right from the tongs! It is a bit scary at first, but this is the way things should be done, and this is what will get you the best feeding results. Besides, it's nothing more than a quick jump... nothing to get worried over!

Another recommended idea is to take your snake out of the cage and use a large bin for feeding. This way the snake associate the bin with feeding, not its cage. You can place the snake and the rat in to the bin and then leave them. Make sure your boa cannot escape after it has eaten.

Newborns should be fed about every five days and when the snake matures this can be scaled back to every ten days. The Red Tailed Boa can go a couple of weeks between feedings if absolutely necessary, but a consistent feeding schedule will be better for the health of the snake.


Your boa should be handled regualarly to keep it comforable with you. It should not be handled during shedding (or just before) and for about n48 hours after feeding. Allow your boa to digest its meal.

Aloow your boa to explre when you handle it, rather than try and restrict it by holding it. That will only make it fight againswt you. Also, be wary of sharp movements. Gentle and easy movements will ensure a comfortable boa.

Again, make sure that it is legal to own a Red Tailed Boa in your community and also be sure that you are ready for the responsibility that comes with owning a snake that can grow to great measures. If you house and feed your Red Tailed Boa properly you will have many years of enjoyment to look forward to with the snake.


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  1. Housing and Feeding a Red Tailed Boa
  2. Wild Burmese Pythons now on Most Wanted List in Florida
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Wild Burmese Pythons now on Most Wanted List in Florida

For years if you wanted to buy a burmese or other large python for a pet in the state of Florida all you had to do is go to a local flea market or visit a number of different pet stores and take your pick. Because pythons are relatively docile reptiles they usually do make wonderful pets but what many never take into consideration is the fact that pythons can grow to huge sizes. This lead many to simply let their pet snake that was getting too big for their taste, out into the wild and now the snake seems to be overrunning the Everglades.

Even more recently, a pet python strangled and killed a two year old girl in Sumter County and this has the entire state of Florida in an uproar. Even Governor Charlie Crist is getting involved and his administration may ask that all Internet sales of burmese and large pythons to Floridians be banned as early as next year. This comes on the heels of Senator Bill Nelson proposing a federal ban on having pythons as pets. But the troubles don’t stop there for the giant snakes.

Recently Florida literally put the snake on the most wanted list and is now going to allow these giants to be hunted. On July 17th officials instituted a program called the python permit program in which holders of a special permit can capture pythons and sell the meat and skin but will not be paid to do so. The program is scheduled to run until October 31 and then the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission will take another look at the program to see if needs to be extended.

It is estimated that there are over 100,000 wild pythons slithering all through the Everglades and some have been known to be as long as 26 feet. While this new capture program is a good start it just isn’t going to stop the problem unless people understand that they can’t just release a big snake into the wild without there being some consequences to come. In the meantime, the pythons have to pay for the mistakes of their former owners.

Burmese python Florida

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In the News

Chito and the croc

Python hunting for sport

Jurassic Airport

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