The Brazilian Rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchria) is one of the most stunning snakes available today. In full light, they sparkle and radiate. They are mostly a ground dwelling snake in the forests of Brazil living off of small mammals that crawl through the undergrowth.
The name “rainbow boa” is an appropriate name because of the multi-colored scale patterns they wear and each boa has its own unique pattern. These boas are a medium length of 6-7 feet long with a large girth, like most snakes in the boa family. If you care for them properly, rainbow boas can live to be 10-15 years old or more.
In general, rainbow boas are quite tolerant of humans, and with regular handling you will be able to enjoy large periods of time with your snake. Hatchlings can nip when they feel threatened, and some snakes will not let you be near them. Avoid holding your snake 48 hours after they have eaten because if they are still digesting you can upset their stomach and they will regurgitate the remains of their food.
Like all constrictors, the Brazilian rainbow boa feeds on small mammals, and in captivity frozen-thawed mice and rats are the best option. Adults need to be fed once a week a mouse or rat a little larger than the girth of the snake so you see a lump after it has been eaten. Hatchlings will take a weekly pinkie mouse.
Since the rainbow boas are generally ground dwelling snakes, height is not as important when choosing a cage as floor space. An adult rainbow boa will need a 50 gallon tank or snake tub to survive, while younger snakes will be fine in 10 gallon aquariums. With adult snakes, the bigger the tank, the better. Aim for giving your snake 6 square feet of space if possible.
Brazilian rainbow boas do best when they have a cage to themselves, and if you plan on housing multiple boas in the same cage, you will need more room. You can also provide sturdy branches or logs for your rainbow boa to climb on.
A loose substrate like cypress mulch or orchard bark works well if you are looking for a decorative setup. If you are looking for a simple, easy to clean setup paper towel or newspaper can be used successfully as well. Avoid sand and pine chips when thinking about a substrate.
Shelter is an important element in making your rainbow boa feel safe and secure in its cage. A shelter, or hide, can be anything that your snake can get in and out of, is dark inside, and is a snug fit. Many pet stores sell snake or reptile hides. Give your snake 3-4 places throughout the cage to hide in.
Rainbow boas need a basking spot with temperatures around 90F. A reptile heat mat works perfect for these snakes, and an overhead bulb of about 60-80 watts will get the job done as well. No UV lighting is required for this species.
Being from the forests of Brazil, rainbow boas like their water. A large water bowl big enough for them to soak in is recommended. Be sure it is filled with fresh, clean water every day. If you are using a reptile bulb to heat the cage, you will need to mist the cage well multiple times a day. If a heat pad is used, once or twice will do.
Spot clean the tank daily. Replace newspaper or paper towels when soiled, and loose substrates need to be removed and replaced every 2-4 months.
Brazilian rainbow boas will begin breeding in the spring as the temperature rises and the days get longer. Be sure your boas are at least two years of age and fully developed so they do not get hurt. Females have the potential to give birth to up to 25 hatchlings, and the give live birth. After a few weeks you can be sure a male and a female have mated, if you did not catch them at it. They may mate multiple times, but that is perfectly normal. Once they have mated there is no need to remove the male from the cage, and if you plan on breeding next year, he can remain in the cage without a problem.
A nesting box filled with sphagnum moss should be placed in the tank to give the female a place to rest and give birth. Don’t worry about incubation and caring for the eggs because like most boas, the rainbow boa will give birth to live young. The hatchling snakes should be moved to their own cage.
A hatchling boa needs on a 10 gallon tank, and can even share the enclosure with some friends. As soon as they are born they are ready to eat and should be fed pinkie mice. They are also able to be sexed right away so males can be separated to avoid fighting. Keep hatchlings on paper towel substrate to make cleanup simple and avoid any digestion problems.
The Brazilian rainbow boa will blow you away with its intense array of colors. They reach a decent length in size, but are not too big and their care is easy and straightforward. Remember, do your research before buying any pet so that it can live happily and healthily.
Fabulous animals, very healthy, this is the place where I get my frogs and stuff, love this place.
Leisa Plattenburg - July 3, 2012
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