Red-Tail Boa

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Is the Red-Tail Boa right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Red-Tailed Boa Constrictor

Scientific name: Boa constrictor constrictor

The basics:
The Red-Tail Boa is a pet trade staple, and has introduced generations of reptile enthusiasts to large snake husbandry. Although commonly thought of as inoffensive, this large, powerful predator can be dangerous in careless hands, and is not a suitable pet for children.

The range extends from southern Columbia to northern Argentina. Red-Tail Boas occupies a wide variety of habitats, including wet and dry forests, wooded savannas, thorn scrub and the outskirts of farms and villages. Time is spent in trees (mainly young individuals) and on the ground.

Appearance / health:
The Red-Tail Boa averages 5-7 feet in length, with some individuals approaching 10 feet and rare reports of 12-footers. Spectacular in appearance, its coloration varies widely, but most are clad in various shades of tan or brown to orange-tinted mahogany, and patterned with dark saddles and blotches. The degree of red coloration shown in the tail (the region below the cloaca) differs markedly among individuals. A wide array of color morphs and unusual patterns have been developed by breeders.

With proper care, captive longevity may exceed 25 years, with several individuals having reached age 40. Dry sheds are common in terrariums where the average humidity is consistently below 50%, but skin infections will take hold in overly-damp environments. Air circulation that allows the tank to dry out after heavy misting is essential. Boas may also be subject to mites, inclusion body disease and other ailments.

Behavior / temperament:
Red-Tail Boas vary in temperament, with some tolerating gentle handling while others remaining resistant. Young animals may be especially defensive. As is true for all snakes, they must be handled with care; adults are not suitable pets for children.

Hatchlings can be accommodated in a 30 gallon aquarium. After 2-3 years, a custom-built cage that is at least as long and wide as the snake’s length, and which allows space for climbing, will usually be necessary. Stout, well-anchored branches or basking shelves and a hide box should be provided. Newspapers, butcher paper, terrarium liners and Astroturf serve well as substrates.

Red-Tail Boa enclosures should be maintained at a temperature range of 82-85 F, with a basking site of 90 F. A thermal gradient allows snakes to regulate their body temperature by moving from hot to cooler areas, and is critical to good health. Heat pads and pig blankets located beneath the cage floor should be provided for larger individuals.

Wild Red-Tail Boas are opportunists, taking opossums, bats, squirrels and other rodents, birds and their eggs, lizards, domestic chickens, and a variety of other species. Pets will accept rats and mice; rabbits are often the least expensive food items for larger individuals.

Breeding is best forestalled until males are 1 ½ - 2 years of age and females are 3-4 years old. A cooling-off period during autumn at a night-time temperature of 68-75 F and with a daytime basking site of 85 F will often stimulate breeding activity. Males should be removed and temperatures returned to normal once the females have swelled noticeably. The young are born alive after 4-5 months, although gestation periods of up to 8 months have been recorded. Litters may contain 10-65 youngsters, but the average is 20-25.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


beautiful calm animal, rainbowy shine, stable temperment, attractive morphs, easiest display animal


big enough enclosure, reaches great lengths, proper temperature range, poor pet, mouth rot, big food cost


adult supervision, longterm commitment, live young aka

Red-Tail Boa Health Tip

Red-Tail Boa

From ekccritters Nov 19 2015 9:32AM


Red-Tail Boa Behavior Tip

Red-Tail Boa

From MelissaJuliette Nov 15 2014 9:19PM


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