Buying and caring for a pet can be a long and strenuous ordeal. The problems and concerns one must face can greatly outweigh the benefits. However, if cared for properly, a pet can be a lifelong companion. Care of the animal should be a top priority, especially when dealing with an exotic or rare pet. In this case, the care of a boa constrictor is of the utmost importance. Boa’s can grow enormously big and can be lethal, so the way that an owner cares for it can ultimately determine how well the boa adapts to its environment.
The first step one deals with is buying a boa. Disregard the impulse that comes with seeing a cute baby boa. Remember, an 18 inch baby boa can easily become a 7 to 8 foot adult within a few years, and can remain that size for 20 or more years after that. So don’t go and buy a boa if you aren’t ready or prepared to take care of such a large animal.
Once you have bought your boa, the most important part of its care is the temperature at which you keep its habitat. Remember, boas are tropical animals, so their enclosure or cage should be no cooler than 80 degrees Fahrenheit and should average somewhere in the low 90’s. The most important part of the temperature is the differentiation between the ambient and basking temperatures. Boas like an ambient temperature in the low 80’s, while their basking temperature (where they sun) should be around 92. These temperatures should be maintained year round.
The lighting of the habitat is also an important factor to consider. Incandescent light bulbs are a good source of heat and can also act as a display for your boa. Fluorescent lights don’t offer as much heat, but can be a good way to show off your pet. Remember, lights should never be the only source of heat and should always be turned off during the night hours.
A 20-gallon cage is a good place to start, but it should be replaced soon, as the boa should outgrow it by the end of the first year. Other materials that you are going to need are a small heater, and a heat lamp to keep the habitat at its optimum temperature. You should also purchase a thermometer to keep an accurate reading of the temperature. A water dish is recommended for the hydration of the boa.
Obviously, the boa will need feeding, so a good source of food is rats. Also, mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs can be substituted. Larger boas can be fed rabbits. A good rule of thumb is that the girth of the animal should not eclipse the girth of the boa. Too much girth can suffocate the boa.
A boa is a very big responsibility, so don’t by one unless you are ready. Space, time, and money are very important factors in raising a boa. If you don’t have sufficient amounts of these then a boa is probably not a good pet to have. Some good resources include The Boa Constrictor Manual by Philippe de Vosjoli and Jeff Ronne, Boas, A Complete Pet Owners Manual by Doug Wagner, and The Guide to Owning a Red-Tailed Boa by Glen Drewnowski.