How to Take Care of a Boa Constrictor

Learn how to take care of a boa constrictor in this Howcast video about pet snakes.

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Interested in getting a pet snake? We asked veterinarian Mark Magazu to tell us the pros and cons of keeping different kinds of snakes as pets. Dr. Magazu also answers frequently asked questions about how to take care of a pet snake. Plus, he talks about snakes that don't make good pets, like anacondas and the three most deadly snakes in the world. Check out his advice in these Howcast videos.

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How do we take care of our boa constrictors. Now this boa constrictor is a young boa constrictor, probably about two, maybe three years old. The thing that is most important with any snake, not just boa constrictors is understanding where they come from and what environment they require, and what food source they require. Now all snakes are carnivorous, so this guy as well as most snakes, will be eating mice and things of that nature. Now snakes are ectotherms, they're cold blooded. So it's very, very important that we set up a terrarium for him to live in that is close to his habitat as we possibly can. For snakes and for boas it's important to number one, have a hiding spot. This guy right now wants to get out of my arms and go find a hiding spot. One of the easiest things to do is to have a plant pot turned over, or a box. They call them hiding boxes and it should be just big enough, so this guy can get in there, curl up and feel nice and secure. Since they are cold blooded it's very, very important that the terrarium's setup to where one side of the terrarium is nice and warm. These guys need to get up to the low 90's in temperature. High 80's to low 90's to be able to digest their food, for their immune system to work, and then they need to cool down to the high 70's, mid 80's. So there needs to be a temperature grading in a terrarium, so when they want to digest, they can go into the warm area. When they need to relax and get away from the heat, they'll go into the cooler area. It's never cool, but the low 80's. What kind of food do they eat? Most of the time in captivity, the best thing to do is to feed them mice. Now a common question is how much do I feed my boa constrictor and how big of bait can I use. The basic thing to always do is the thickest part of the snake, other than the head, the thickest part of the snake, is the largest diameter you want for your bait. So you shouldn't have a mouse any bigger than this or a baby rat, okay? It really goes according to the youth, the younger the snake the more frequent they eat. A boa can sometimes when they're younger eat once or twice a week. Then as they get older anywhere from once a week to 10 to 14 days. So if we've got to feed this guy every 10 to 14 days it's important to also understand how long does this guy live? These guys can live anywhere from up to 25 to 30 years. Their average is in the low 20's, but it's been known that these guys can get that high. So it's very important, if we're going to take care of our boas that we know how long we're going to be taking care of them, because you're going to have a guy like this around, for at least 20-25 years.

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  • Dr. Mark Magazu

    Dr. Mark Magazu is Chairman of Saint Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey, one of only 15% of animal hospitals in North America to be accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. Saint Francis is an award-winning referral practice with board-certified veterinarians offering surgery, cardiology, 24/7 emergency care, radiology, ophthalmology, rehabilitation, internal medicine, holistic and natural medicine, and avian and exotic medicine.