Species group: Boas, Anacondas and Pythons
Other common names: Egyptian Sand Boa; East African Sand Boa
Scientific name: Gongylophis colubrinus
The Kenyan Sand Boa differs greatly in lifestyle and appearance from the larger, more “typical” members of its family. Being quite docile, easily bred and modest in size, this fascinating snake is much sought after by reptile enthusiasts.
The Kenyan Sand Boa’s range extends from Libya and Egypt in northeastern Africa south and east to Tanzania, with unconfirmed reports of occurrences in Yemen. Two subspecies have been described. Arid, scrub-studded plains and semi-deserts are the preferred habitats. Much of its time is spent below-ground, usually just beneath the surface with the head partially exposed.
Appearance / health:
Cylindrical in shape, the Kenyan Sand Boa averages 20 inches to three feet in length. The small dorsal scales appear “polished”, and are colored reddish-brown to nearly orange, or in various shades of tan. Dark blotches of differing sizes and shapes mark the back. As an adaptation to life spent below ground, the wedge shaped head serves as a “spade”.
This is a hardy species, with captive longevity sometimes exceeding 20 years. As with other species hailing from arid habitats, Sand Boas are susceptible to “blister disease” and other skin infections when kept on damp substrates.
Behavior / temperament:
Kenyan Sand Boas are often relatively calm in disposition, and may tolerate gentle handling. However, they are usually ill-at-ease when removed from their hiding spots, and the smooth, glossy scales render them difficult to control. Sand boas have an ingrained feeding response that often causes them to strike if touched while buried, so take care when approaching your pet.
A single adult may be housed in a 20 gallon aquarium. Kenyan Sand Boas must be provided course sand and smooth gravel in which to burrow. These secretive snakes will not thrive if forced to shelter in caves; body contact with sand is essential. However, some will remain beneath a piece of glass laid atop the sand, and so may be easily observed. The tank’s screen lid should be secured by cage clips. As Sand Boas rarely bask on the surface, a heat pad should be placed below the aquarium. An incandescent bulb may be used to warm the air further if necessary. Ambient temperature: 78-85 F. Basking temperature: 90-95 F.
Sand Boas are highly-specialized ambush predators that wait below the sand for passing rodents, lizards and smaller snakes. To assist in this hunting strategy, the eyes and nostrils are placed high on the head, which is left partially exposed. Captives will literally explode from the sand to snatch mice moved about with a feeding tong…very impressive, and always a shock to the uninitiated! The jaws of the Kenyan Sand Boa are not well-suited to swallowing large meals. Fuzzies and young mice are preferable to adult mice as a food source. Youngsters should be fed once weekly, while adults do fine with a meal each 10-14 days.
A cooling-off period of 2 months at 75-77 F will often stimulate reproduction. Expectant females will spend considerable time basking above sub-tank heat pads or cables. The 6-25 young are born alive after a gestation period of 4 – 6 months.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
beautiful snakes, small size, great beginner snakes, gorgeous color, docile creature
time burrow, intestinal impaction, aggressive feeding response, fussy feeders
tunnels, new morphs, unique head shape, live births, shovellike nose, ambush predators
"I absolutely love Kenyan Sand Boas! They are super easy to keep, ferocious feeders, stunning to look at and amazing tame from the get go. One of my favorite things about these snakes is that they are smaller than other snakes on the market (like ball pythons) but are very stocky and hardy snakes. They are very easy for first time keepers. In my opinion this is one of the best snakes to get the whole snake experience in one small package. If you do decide to keep these, I recommend that you buy a pair. You will be able to grow them up from babies and if you feed them every 5 days you will able to breed them and experience the joy of watching the full life cycle of your animals. The babies can be offered pinkies and adults will live happily on adult mice. They will eat every time they are offered as long as they are not already full and are very unlikely to be tricky feeders. In my opinion one of the top 10 snakes for first time keepers and I think I will continue to keep these for a very long time. <br><br>Note: They are ferocious feeders. They have to be kept separately when offered food or they will latch onto each others food and possibly eat each other.."
From RobWedderburn Sep 27 2015 11:43AM
"Kenyan sand boas are defiantly something a little different. Small in size and can easily be kept in most homes. They come in a few colours (morphs) and are easy to keep and maintain, they are a borrowing species which although different was my main reason for not highly recommending them. You basically have a vivarium with some sand in the bottom and apart from very late at night and feeding you never see them. They are also not big fans of handling as they feel a little insecure being above ground so to speak.<br><br>still an interesting species to keep - just not for me."
From Ngatrell Apr 15 2013 1:49PM