Snakes have become more and more popular pets in recent years. While not for everyone, many people find them truly fascinating and beautiful animals, and their relatively modest care requirements mean they can be enjoyed by anyone. Unlike a cat or dog, a pet snake doesn’t need to be taken for walks, or let outside for exercise, even a large pet boa only has fairly modest housing requirements, and one their care and husbandry are properly understood they are easy to keep, handle and care for.
There are almost 3000 known species of snakes, but only a handful of these are really suitable for keeping as pets. Once you discount the many venomous species, those which are difficult to keep or handle, and endangered species which can’t be kept as pets, a relatively small choice remains. Among these are the boas and pythons, sometimes referred to as the “boids”, and many of the boas in particular make excellent pets
The reason many people choose a pet boa is partly for their beauty, partly because they thrive in captivity (and breed easily so captive bred specimens are readily available at a reasonable price) and partly because of their generally docile nature.
There are 28 recognised species of true boas, and a number of these make excellent pets. The common boa (boa constrictor imperator) and the red tailed boa (boa constrictor constrictor) are probably the best known. Pet boa constrictors can grow to 7 – 10 feet in length, and live for upwards of 20 years. They are large, powerful animals, but their generally docile nature, and tolerance to being regularly handled means that they are extremely popular pet snakes.
Other commonly kept pet boas include the Dumeril’s Boa, which is a CITES listed endangered species, but captive bred specimens can be bought and kept legally. They are a little smaller than the red tailed boa, and many keepers regard them as one of the most attractive boa species. The rainbow boas, such as the Brazilian Rainbow Boa (Epicrates Canchria) is another commonly kept pet snake, although they have stricter care requirements than boa constrictors and are a little less tolerant to being handled so are not an idea first pet boa.
For the newcomer to snake keeping who feels that a pet boa constrictor would be too much to handle, there are a number of smaller and easier to manage boa species. The rosy boa and ground boa are two terrestrial species which only grow to a couple of feet in length, have good temperaments and modest care requirements, and make excellent pets.
Whatever species of boa you choose, spend some time reading up on the subject before making a commitment. While boas make wonderful pets, their long lifespan means you’ll be caring for you new boa for many years to come. Make sure you understand the requirements before making a commitment, and you’ll have many years of enjoyment from your new pet boa.