Are Boa Constrictors good pets

Are Boa Constrictors good pets?

Are Boa Constrictors good pets? Well, thousands of reptile keepers around the world think so. But don’t just take our word for it – keep reading to find out why!

Are Boa Constrictors good pets? Well, thousands of reptile keepers around the world think so. But don’t just take our word for it – keep reading to find out why!

Why are Boa Constrictors good pets?

It might surprise you to learn that Boa Constrictors are extremely good pets. We hear a lot of misinformation about how big, or how dangerous these species are. In truth, they come in various sizes, and have a laid-back temperament. They can in fact be a safe, hardy and low-maintenance pet.

Boas can be fed frozen-thawed food, and have minimal care requirements once you get their temperature, humidity and overall setup correct. You can of course learn more about this in the care sheet listed at the end of this article.

For now, lets take a closer look at some of the factors that tend to (incorrectly) scare people away from keeping Boas…

Pet Boa Constrictor Size

The first thing you need to know about Boa Constrictors is that they aren’t all the same size. In fact, many of them are nowhere as big as you might expect. This is because the term “Boa Constrictor” is commonly used to refer to three different species of snake, one of which – the Red Tail – also has several subspecies.

These species are the Common Boa (Boa imperator), the Sonoran Boa (Boa sigma) and the Red Tail Boa (Boa constrictor). Of the three, the Red Tail Boa and the Common Boa are the most widely available – but most Common Boas are much smaller than Red Tails.

In fact, many male Common Boas never get over 4 foot (1.2m) in length, making them very manageable as pets. Some female Red Tail Boas, on the other hand, have been recorded at over 12 feet (3.5m).

In a nutshell, you can buy a Boa that will only reach a manageable size, you just have to do your research before buying. Don’t count these snakes out because of their size!

Boa Constrictor Species and subspecies list

Species:

  1. Common Boa (Boa imperator)
  2. Sonoran Boa (Boa sigma)
  3. Red Tail Boa (Boa constrictor)

Red Tail Boa subspecies:

  • True Red Tail Boa (B. c. constrictor)
  • Argentine Boa (B. c. occidentalis)
  • Amaral’s Boa (B. c. amarali)
  • Pearl Island Boa (B. c. sabogae)
  • Oton’s Boa (B. c. ortonii)
  • St. Lucia Boa (B. c. orophias)
  • Ecuadorian Boa, aka Black Tailed Boa (B. c. melanogaster)
  • Long Tailed Boa (B. c. longicauda)

Boa Constrictor size chart by species

Species:Male size:Female size:
Common Boa (Boa imperator)3 to 6ft (1 to 1.8m)4 to 8ft (1.2 to 2.4m)
Sonoran Boa (Boa sigma)roughly 4ft (1.2m)up to 6ft (1.8m)
Red Tail Boa (Boa constrictor)up to 8ft (2.4m)up to 13ft (3.9m)
Are Boa Constrictors good pets?
A stunning true Red Tail Boa (Boa constrictor)

What size tank does a Boa Constrictor need?

As you might expect the size of tank you need for a Boa depends on the subspecies or species that you keep. Many adult Boas need at least a 4 foot (1.2m) long enclosure, while very large individuals will need an 8 foot (2.4m) long enclosure.

This size of enclosure usually means a vivarium or PVC setup, which can cost a considerable amount. In fact, this will be the biggest expense if you do decide to keep this species.

On the other hand, it’s worth remembering that your snake could live for over 20 years: a one-time investment of $150-300 for its adult setup doesn’t seem so bad in the long run!

When you get a baby Boa Constrictor, you can house it in a very small plastic tub or vivarium, but be aware that they grow fast – the adult setup will be needed within a year or two.

Finding a Boa Constrictor for sale

When it comes to availability, Boa Constrictors really do perform well. In fact, it is incredibly easy to find Boas for sale at reasonable prices. This is especially true for Common Boas that are not a kind of morph.

If you want to find a Boa Constrictor for sale, look for reputable breeders online. Make sure that you can read reviews or feedback about them before buying. That is how you stay safe when buying reptiles. Good breeders get good reviews. Period.

How much is a pet Boa Constrictor?

Common Boas are the cheapest species of Boa Constrictor, and come in at a very reasonable price. Generally speaking, you can find one for £50-100. Notwithstanding, there are many morphs available which obviously cost slightly more.

Red Tail Boas, on the other hand, are considerably more expensive, and slightly less widely available. You should expect to pay at least $250 for a neonate. Some subspecies of Red Tail are even more expensive. For example, I would be surprised to see an Argentine Boa for sale at less than $800.

If just want a nice Boa that will be a pet rather than a breeding investment, then you should buy a normal Common Boa. Many of these are very attractive looking animals and are just as cheap as other popular pet snakes.

Do Boa Constrictors make good pets?

Are Boa Constrictors good snakes for beginners?

Overall, Boa Constrictors are great pet snakes. All in honesty, I probably wouldn’t recommend one for a beginner, though. I say this for two reasons.

First, is that they can live an incredibly long time. On occasion, they live to over thirty years old, with at least one living past the age of forty. If you decide you don’t enjoy keeping snakes, you will need to re-home the animal.

Second, although they aren’t as huge as many sources make out, they are still large snakes. This means their enclosure will be a large investment. It also means you should be confident handling and feeding large-ish reptiles. If you aren’t – get a Corn Snake instead!

Can a pet Boa Constrictor kill you?

Interestingly, there are many reports of Boa Constrictors killing people – but only one case has ever been tentatively confirmed. This is was a man who, for some strange reason, put his 9 foot (2.7m) long pet around his neck and showed it off.

The snake in question got frightened, and hung on as hard as it could. The result was that it unintentionally killed its owner through strangulation.

With snakes of this size, there are two rules that every keeper should respect:

  1. don’t put a very large snake around your neck
  2. only handle them with another experienced person present

In reality, your average Boa Constrictor is not large enough or strong to kill a human out of aggression. You’d literally have to put a big one around your neck and do everything possible to frighten or annoy it – pretty easy to avoid when you think about it.

Is it safe to have a Boa Constrictor as a pet?

If you have a large Boa Constrictor, you should handle it with the respect it deserves. This means not hanging it around your neck and not taking it out in public. When handled correctly, and given the care and consideration they deserve, Boa Constrictors are statistically many times safer to be around than dogs.

Do Boa Constrictors bite?

Most Boa Constrictors do not bite out of aggression, so long as you handle them on a regular basis when young. This means 5 to 10 minutes, twice a week. With gentle handling, 99.9% of them turn into docile adults. As with many snakes, the babies can start out nippy, but this fades quickly.

The one instance where you could be bitten by an adult is during feeding. As with any other reptile, you should use tongs to feed Boas. If the tongs are long enough, you’re safe!

For any Boa over a few months of age, you should be using tongs that are over a foot (30cm) in length. For large adult Boas, you should use 3 foot (1m) long litter pickers/grabbers. You can usually find these at hardware stores or online.

A Common Boa showing the typical colour and pattern of the species
A Common Boa (Boa imperator) showing the typical colour and pattern of the species

Do Boa Constrictors like to be handled?

Boa Constrictors have temperaments that vary according to the species and subspecies they belong to. Sometimes even according to the locality they belong to…

That said, your average Red Tail Boa and Common Boa will be a laid-back, sometime curious animal. In my experience, many of them do enjoy being handled for a limited amount of time. They like to come out for a quick explore and a climb, then go back in their enclosure.

The bottom line

In my experience, Boa Constrictors make great pets. They are docile, long-lived, hardy and cheap to maintain once you’ve bought their setup. Overall, I’d say that they are one of my favourite species, and I actually started keeping them when I was 12 years old.

Funnily enough, despite what we often read about them in the media, I never had a Boa that grew to a ridiculous size or tried to kill me! To this day, in fact, I’ve only had one nip from a baby Boa.

If you do decide to get a Boa Constrictor, you will have a good pet. But you must keep up your end of the bargain. Gentle handling, a good diet and correct husbandry are essential to keep this species happy. Try reading our care sheet below for more information.

Related articles:

Boa Constrictor Care Sheet

Resources:

A Guide to Caring for Boa Constrictors as Pets

Colombian Boa Constrictor Care Sheet – Reptiles Magazine

Boa Constrictor Care Sheet | Reptile Centre

Boa Constrictor Imperator BCI & BCC Care | Reptile Roommate

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