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Common Boa Constrictor

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Latin name: Boa constrictor imperator (BCI)

Size Generally Common Boas reach between 5-9 ft, with females being typically larger than males.

It is rare for Common Boas to reach over 9ft but it has been documented that some have reached around 10-12 ft. This however is rarely seen.
Life Span 25-30 years with proper care
Diet Frozen-thawed, appropriately sized rodents warmed to room temperature
Feeding Feed neonates and juveniles once a week, sub-adults every 10-14 days and adult snakes every 2-3 weeks to avoid becoming overweight.
Housing Size - An adult Boa can be housed in a 4-5ft x 2ft vivarium although a bigger vivarium may be needed for the larger specimens. Neonate Boas are best kept in small tubs with secure hides as they may go off feeding if they feel insecure.

Substrate - Aspen shavings, mulch-type commercial material, unbleached paper towels, newspaper or bark.

Habitat - Provide a hiding area large enough for snake to fit inside and a branch or shelf to climb on.

Temperature - The ambient temperature should fall between 80-85° Fahrenheit with the cool end towards the lower end of this but not falling below 75° Fahrenheit. There should be a basking spot at the hot end which should fall between 90-95° Fahrenheit.

A night time drop in temperature is not required but if it does occur then the ambient temperature should not be allowed to fall below 75° Fahrenheit. To achieve these temperatures several heating devices can be used such as:-
  • Heatmats
  • Basking/Infrared Bulbs
  • AHS heaters
  • Ceramic bulbs
These are down to personal preference and all should be used with the appropriate Thermostats to control the temperature and avoid overheating.

Lighting - Snakes need a photo period light cycle; provide 8-12 hours of light daily; do not leave white light on at all times; to view snakes at night use a black or infrared light.

Water - Provide a bowl of fresh, clean, chlorine-free water large enough for the snake to soak in.

Do not house different species of reptiles together.
Recommended Supplies
  • Enclosure/rub with secure lid
  • Thermometer and humidity gauge
  • Appropriate substrate
  • Hiding or retreat area/sturdy branch
  • Large water dish
  • Incandescent bulb or ceramic heater
  • Light timer
  • Under tank heat source
  • Book about boas
  • Infrared or black light
Normal Behaviour & Interaction As the snake prepares to shed, their eyes will turn a milky blue over the course of a few days and their body colour will begin to dull and develop a whitish sheen.

Snakes search their habitat when hungry, appearing alert and even restless; appetite may diminish during winter months.

Snakes will remain quiet in the hiding area or coiled up for long periods of time; they should display an alert demeanour when disturbed.
Habitat Maintenance
  • Clean out water dish and replace water daily.
  • Remove faeces daily.
  • Remove food if not eaten immediately.
  • Thoroughly clean the tank at least once a month. Set snake aside in a secure enclosure. Scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution, rinse thoroughly with water, removing all smell of bleach.
  • Dry the enclosure/furnishings and add clean substrate.
Grooming & Hygiene Snakes will regularly shed their skin; if old pieces of skin remain after shedding, mist the snake and gently rub off the old skin.

Because all boas are potential carriers of infectious diseases and salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your boa and/or the habitat contents to help prevent the potential of spread of diseases.

Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing and/or caring for a boa.
Signs of a Healthy Animal
  • Active and alert
  • Eats regularly
  • Clear eyes
  • Regular shedding of skin
  • Healthy skin
  • Sheds skin in one complete piece
Common Health Issues
Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Dermatitis Blisters; rapid shedding caused by an unclean habitat or one that is too cold or damp. Clean the habitat and lower humidity. Consult your exotic reptile Veterinarian.
Respiratory Disease Laboured breathing. Mucus in mouth or nostrils. Can be caused by a habitat that is too cold or damp. Keep snake warm and dry. Consult your exotic reptile Veterinarian.
Stomatitis White, cheese-like substance in the mouth; loss of teeth and appetite. If untreated, can be fatal. Consult your exotic reptile Veterinarian.
Ticks & Mites Parasites on skin; can transmit diseases. Consult your exotic reptile Veterinarian.
Red Flags
  • Unusually frequent or infrequent shedding
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargic or reluctant to eat
  • Bumps or spots on skin
  • Abnormal faeces
  • Laboured breathing
  • Difficulty shedding
  • White, cheese-like substance in mouth
Note: The information in this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the above sources or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.