Rosy Boa Enclosure Guidelines

Rosy Boa Enclosure Guidelines: Size and type.

Rosy Boa enclosure guidelines are pretty simple. It all comes down to choosing the right type of setup, or modifying it to get the correct humidity (or lack thereof) …

Rosy Boa enclosure guidelines are pretty simple. It all comes down to choosing the right type of setup, or modifying it to get the correct humidity (or lack thereof) …

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in the desert, your main concern when keeping Rosy Boas will be maintaining low humidity. The best way to do this is to choose an enclosure with adequate ventilation, and an appropriate substrate. Keep reading for guidelines on what enclosures work and how to furnish them.

Rosy Boa Enclosure setups

As with most snake enclosures, it doesn’t matter too much what material Rosy Boa setups are made of. What counts is that they are appropriately designed for your pet, or that you can modify them to get what you need.

Notwithstanding, it’s definitely easier to use a setup that already is configured correctly and ready to go. For Rosy Boas, this means a terrarium with a mesh top to allow for adequate ventilation. That’s why I usually recommend the Exo Terra Medium terrarium.

It has a nice mesh top, but also has a plastic border all around it so that your snake can’t rub its snout on mesh in the corners and hurt itself – this is very important!

With other setups, you’ll need to add mesh inserts for ventilation yourself, unless you can find versions with them pre-installed, as is the case with some (expensive) snake racks.

If you look at the list below, you’ll see that practically any enclosure type can work for Rosy Boas. Personally, I just recommend the Exo Terra terrariums because they are ready to go, and this makes things easier.

List of setups that can work:

  • Tubs with mesh ventilation inserts
  • Snake racks with mesh ventilation inserts
  • PVC terrariums with adequate ventilation
  • Wood terrariums/vivariums with adequate ventilation
  • Tanks with mesh tops
  • Plastic faunariums
Rosy Boa enclosure
A Coastal Rosy Boa

Do bioactive enclosures work for Rosy Boas?

If you read a lot of my care sheets, you’ll know I’m not a huge fan of bioactive enclosures for most snakes other than small species like the Rough Green Snake.

They’ve been extremely well marketed and gotten pretty trendy. The problem is that they are not hygienic, no matter how you try to tip-toe round the issue.

In fact, something I’ve noticed since the emergence of the bioactive trend is a resurgence in cases of scale rot amongst Ball Pythons housed in them. They just don’t work well for heavy-bodied snakes that make big messes.

That said, Rosy Boas are small enough that you would expect bioactive enclosures to work fine for them… The problem is that it’s hard making a bioactive desert setup and maintaining low humidity.

Deserts are dry – they aren’t a biotope that facilitates regular plant growth (other than cacti and thorn scrub).

If you try to add water on a regular basis so that your plants and springtails or isopods do well, you’ll end up making the enclosure too humid for your Rosy Boa.

All-in-all, it would be much easier to make a naturalistic but non-bioactive enclosure using rocks, dry leaves, caves, and branches. Get this right, and it will look just as good as a bioactive enclosure, with half the hassle.

Rosy Boa setup

Rosy Boa Enclosure size guidelines

This is the main thing Rosy Boas have going for them when it comes to their setup: they almost never get over 36 inches (90cm) in length. In fact, their size is one of the main reasons Rosy Boas make good pets in general.

You can house most of them in a 24x18x18inches (60x45x45cm) enclosure their whole lives. Exceptionally large females that reach 36 inches (90cm) or more will still only need a 36-inch enclosure.

For their part, baby Rosy Boas are happy in a 10-12inches (25-30cm) long enclosure until they reach 18 inches (45cm) in length.

In fact, housing these snakes in enclosures that are too large can make them feel exposed, and places them under considerable stress.

Age/sizeEnclosure size
Juvenile up to 18 inches (45cm)10-12inches (25-30cm) long
Most adults 24 inches (60cm) long
Females 36 (90cm) inches and larger36 inches (90cm) long
Rosy Boa tank setup

Humidity

The reason I keep repeating the importance of mesh tops and ventilation is simple: Rosy Boas will get sick if their enclosure is too humid.

Ambient humidity for these two species should be around 30 – 40%. You can raise this temporarily to 50 – 60% when they are shedding, but it should be lowered again quickly.

Mesh tops or vents are essential for maintaining this low humidity level unless you live in a desert zone. It’s also a good idea to invest in a humidity gauge, either digital or analogue.

Water features

No permanent water features should be present in your Rosy Boa’s enclosure. Instead, water should be given intermittently, just like in the desert.

Give it a few days before feeding or after feeding, every couple of weeks. Put it into the enclosure in a sturdy ceramic or resin bowl that your snake will be unable to tip over, then remove it after a day or so.

Harquahala Mountain Northern Three Lined Boa (Lichanura orcutti)

Do Rosy Boas need a basking light?

Like most other nocturnal rodent-eating snakes, Rosy Boas do not need UVB or UVA light to synthesize vitamin D3 and metabolise calcium.

You don’t have to provide them with any lighting, in fact, so long as there is ambient lighting in the room, and it’s on for 12 to 14 hours a day.

Nonetheless, you may want to use a light for them if you’ve gone to the trouble of making a naturalistic enclosure. After all, a light will add to the aesthetics, and make it into a true display setup.

You can use several types of light for this, including:

  • LED strips
  • UV lighting
  • Heat lamps
  • Mercury vapor bulbs (heat and UV)

If you do choose to use a heat lamp for light and heat, remember that you should still use a heat pad for nighttime heat, and that any heat source should always be used with a thermostat.

Rosy Boa exploring

Best substrates for Rosy Boas

Small-chip aspen is quite possibly the best, and most popular, substrate for Rosy Boas (one brand name is Sani-Chips, for example). The reason for this is that it is cheap, keeps humidity low if well-ventilated, and allows your snake to burrow.

Other viable choices include paper fibre and even just newspaper, though these aren’t as nice to look at. If going for a naturalistic look, a topsoil and sand mix (70/30) apparently works well, though it wouldn’t be my first choice.

As always, avoid using cedar or pine, which are both toxic.

Hiding places

Hiding places are essential for these snakes. In the wild they either forage for prey by exploring rock crevices or ambush them by waiting at the entrance to a hideout.

Conversely, during the day they are very rarely active, preferring to spend their time hidden deep within a secure hiding place.

To the mind of a Rosy Boa, darkness = safety.

So, whatever type of enclosure you use, always make sure that at least two sturdy hiding places are available. My preference is for resin caves, like the Exo Terra caves.

You should place one on the warm side of the enclosure and another on the cool side, this way your snake can always hide and thermoregulate.

Note: You can read more about thermoregulation in my Rosy Boa Husbandry guide heating section.

Rosy Boa enclosure

Do Rosy Boas Like to climb?

Much like baby Ball Pythons, Rosy Boas do climb. That said, they aren’t arboreal, and their climbing is generally limited to ascending low shrubs whilst hunting for nestling birds. This is part of their natural diet, so they do it more for necessity than fun.

Again, like Ball Pythons, they get slightly less coordinated as they get older, and eventually less inclined to climb altogether. In my opinion, it’s good to provide some branches, but only low ones to make a fall unlikely.

My choice for a Rosy Boa setup

My choice for a Rosy Boa setup is precisely the one shown in the video by Reptilemountain. TV., that you saw at the start of this article.

That channel always produces good, common-sense guides to reptile care, and their info on Rosy Boas is no exception.

Glass, mesh-topped tanks work great for animals that need low humidity. But always make sure that there is a plastic border around the edge of the top. This prevents the snake from rubbing its snout on the mesh.

Asides from glass tanks, you can also use any of the other setups I mention in this article, just make sure that your main priority is good ventilation and you can’t go wrong.

Other resources related to Rosy Boa setups:

Rosy Boa Care Sheet – Reptiles Magazine

Rosy Boa – Zilla Reptile Products

Rosy Boa Care Sheet | DubiaRoaches.com

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