You are hereColombian Red Tail Boa, Boa constrictor imperator

Colombian Red Tail Boa, Boa constrictor imperator


Columbian red tail boa Boa constrictor imperatorKingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Family: Boidae

Genus: Boa

Species: constrictor

Subspecies: imperator

Introduction: Colombian Red Tail Boas are large constricting snakes that can attain sizes ranging from 8ft to 13ft. Columbian Red Tail Boas are native to Columbia in South America. They inhabit dense humid forests but can be encountered on farm land as well. They are active both day and night, but are largly crepescular, prefering to stalk their habitat at dusk and dawn. They prey mostly on mammals and birds, however as neonates and juveniles, frogs and small lizards are also on the menu. They hunt and catch their prey, subduing the prey within their powerful constrictive coil.

Acclimation and Quarantine: Wild caught specimens can be difficult to start feeding.

First, be sure to address any potential parasite load. Wild caught snakes should be treated for parasites as soon as possible after purchase.

Fresh imports may also be dehydrated. Place the snake in a deli cup or bucket filled to about one inch with lukewarm water. This method is very effective as the snakes will often drink while they soak.

Quarantine and acclimation enclosures need not be elaborate, instead they should be sterile and easy to clean. Plastic storage bins are often used for such enclosures as they are easy to clean, come in a variety of sizes, and most provide the security needed for a freshly imported snake. Paper towels, newspapers, or other easily cleaned materials may be used as the substrate. A hide box will provide additional security. A ceramic water dish should be used as the water bowl as these are strong and heavy bodied snakes and are likely to tip over anything plastic. This setup should be used until the snake is feeding regularly and appears to be in good health.

Housing: Once the boa is acclimated and feeding well it may be put into a permanent cage. Neonates and juveniles can be kept in 10-30 gallon tanks. Vertical space is not a necessity but is prefered as these snakes are as much at home in the trees as they are on the ground.

A minimum cage for a single adult animal should be 72”x36”x24”(LxWxH). Glass, plastic and wood enclosures can all be used. Furnishing the enclosure is of personal preference. Branches can be used in the furnishing of the enclosure. Hide boxes should also be placed on each end of the cage to provide the snake with a sense of security as they thermoregulate. Artificial foliage may be added to the cage to provide the snake with more places to hide.

For substrate, aspen,soil, mulch, ground coconut, and sphagnum moss are all acceptable as these will help to retain the proper humidity levels the snake needs to thrive. Many people use newspaper as well.

Humidity: Colombians thrive in environments with high humidity. The ideal humidity range would be between 60-80%, but moments above and below this range are acceptable for short periods of time. If the appropriate humidity is not provided the snake may experience health problems. To achieve the necessary humidity simply spray the cage once or twice a day/evening with fresh water and provide a fresh bowl of water. When spraying the cage it is important to make sure that the substrate remains damp but not soggy. If too much moisture is present, the snake could develop scale or respiratory infections.

Lighting and Heating: There should be a thermal gradient in the cage so that the snake may choose the area of the cage where it is most comfortable. The warmest extreme of the cage should be between 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit, while the cooler side of the cage should be between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is extremely important that the snake is provided with this thermal gradient so they can escape the heat. At night there should be a slight drop in temperature, preferably of about ten degrees. Heat pads, cable, tape and basking lights are all great ways to provide heat.

Feeding: Feeding is straight forward. Prey should be an appropriate size relative to that of the snake you are feeding. Feed neonates and juveniles frequently to ensure rapid growth. A pinky/fuzzy or two twice a week is a good regimen. For adults 2-3 mice or small rats once a week will suffice. Feed snakes in an enclosure other than what the snake lives in. By doing this, the likely hood of an aggressive feeding response when you open the cage will be reduced. The feeding container can be bear bottom to ensure that the snake only swallows it's food and not any bedding which can lead to a mouth infection or an impaction in the stomach. Neonates and wild caught animals may be difficult to initiate feeding, however once they accept their first meal they normally continue to feed well from then on. To entice a reluctant snake to feed try placing the animal in a restricted container such as a deli dish in order to keep the food and it's scent in close proximity to the snake. Leave it alone for about 24 hours. See our "How To" section for additional tips on How to entice a reluctant snake to feed.

Water: A dish of fresh water should always be available.

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