Colombian Red Tailed Boa Care Sheet
Colombian Red Tailed Boas, due to their docile nature are a great Snake to own. I would recommend though that you have had some experience with snakes before purchasing a Red Tail due to the size this snake will achieve. While at the pet store a 12″ to 18″ Boa looks completely harmless. 12 to 18 months later, when you have a 7′ snake requiring large rats to feed on can be a completely different story. These snakes will grow fast and will max out at about 8′ to 10′ but the females can reach up to 12′.
As with all snakes housing is one of the most important parts of your pets happiness. Red Tailed Boas like a lot of room as they are very active snakes. Hatchlings can be kept in a 10 or 20 gallon aquarium but within a year need to be moved to a cage of at least 48″w x 36″t x 24″d which they can live out the rest of their lives (Boas can live up to 25 years). They like to climb around so a log or other climbing accessories would be preferred.
There are many different options available to you for the bottom of you Red Tail Boa cage. You can use paper towels, newspaper, astroturf or purchase Reptile Bedding at your local pet store but this can get a bit pricy. My recommendation would be Cypress Mulch. Only about $4.00 at your local Lowes or Home Depot. (NEVER use pine or cedar mulches it can be toxic). Cypress Mulch looks the best in my opinion and allows you to spot clean soiled areas as opposed to totally replacing the bedding. You do however need to completely replace bedding at least every three months to avoid mites and other insect problems.
Lighting is very important. You must be able to allow you Ball to experience both day and night. Therefore you must use some type of lighting (a normal household incandescent bulb will work just fine) during the day to simulate daytime and the light must be turned off to simulate night. If you do use bulbs inside the cage ensure that you have a wire mesh over the bulb to avoid burns.
Proper heat is a must. The temperature in the cage should be kept between 80 and 85F with a basking area of about 90F. A basking area can be achieved with a heat rock or overhead ceramic heat source (recommended). With the size your cage should be, the overhead ceramic heat source is the way to go. Make sure if you use the overhead heat source that you keep the fixture outside the cage or place a wire mesh over the fixture to avoid burns. Keep in mind when using a heat rock you must cover the rock with a towel as there is a potential for thermal burns. Never allow the temperature to drop below 73F.
Also you should be able to keep the humidity at about 60 to 70%. This can be achieved in a number of ways such as a reptile fogger or even easier spraying your cage 2 to 3 times a week with water. Spray the bedding and the walls. The moisture combined with the heat source will increase the humidity and assist the snake in shedding and its overall well being.
Feeding is one of the most exciting parts of owning a snake. Allow your snake to acclimate to its new surroundings for about two weeks. Red Tail Boas will start to eat “fuzzies” as hatchlings quickly graduating to mice once per week. After 6 months you can begin to introduce Rats. Full grown, your Red Tail will eat large rats and possibly small rabbits two or three times a month depending on the size of your snake. There are numerous opinions as to feeding live or pre-killed food. I prefer live food as it is fun to watch, however you must be aware that the food you introduce does have teeth and sharp claws and can harm your snake. Not much of a chance of it killing your snake but scratches and scars can occur. Never feed your snake in the same cage it lives. It will start to identify the opening of the cage with feeding time and make it harder to take it out of the cage. NEVER feed wild prey to your snake as they may contain parasites and other diseases.
Be sure to provide a fresh bowl of water at all times. This water will be used for both drinking and soaking so make sure that your snake can completely fit in the bowl without knocking it over. Soaking in the water assists in molting (shedding)
Handle your Columbian Red Tailed Boa as often as possible especially when young. This will ensure as your Boa gets older you will still be able to enjoy handling it. When fully grown I recommended that you never handle your snake while alone or allow young children to handle without close adult supervision. As with all animals Boas have a mouth and it is full of teeth. Although not often, Boas can and will bite. My 10 yr old was bitten by our 7′ Red tail boa. No harm was done, just a few bite marks. (Not the snakes fault, He did not wash his hands after feeding another snake we own.)