Kenyan Sand Boa

Save as favorite

Avg. Owner Satisfaction


(21 Reviews)

Is the Kenyan Sand Boa right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Egyptian Sand Boa; East African Sand Boa

Scientific name: Gongylophis colubrinus

The basics:
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

Member photos