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Kenyan Sand Boa

Caring for Sand Boas


Kenyan Sand Boa

Kenyan Sand Boa

Photo © Flickr user ArtBrom

A small and fairly popular pet snake species, the Kenyan sand boa, like other snakes, is an easily cared for exotic pet. With a proper set-up and feeding regimen, a sand boa makes an excellent pet snake.

Kenyan Sand Boa

Kenyan sand boas are related to the rosy boas and rubber boas of North America and are found in East Africa where they bury themselves in different substrates, or in the burrow of another animal, while waiting for a meal to crawl by. They are usually most active in the afternoon and evening. Sand boas are considered "stocky" snakes and have short tails.

Growing to be a maximum of 36 inches in length, the Kenyan (also known as the East African) sand boa is a small pet snake. Females will typically reach between 24 and 36 inches in length (and are prone to obesity), while the smaller males usually top out at about 18 inches.

These snakes are typically cream colored with brown patterns but can have more of a orange or yellowish colored pattern as well. They are definitely unusual looking snakes and almost appear to have a little "snout."

Housing Requirements

Since these snakes stay pretty small, a 10 gallon aquarium usually does well for the males and a 20 gallon aquarium should be large enough for the females. If you choose to have more than one sand boa make sure they are all the same sex to avoid accidental breeding of your boas. Other enclosure options exist including plastic sweater boxes and prefabricated reptile houses. But whatever you choose to house your sand boa in, make sure it can be secured tightly and still provide adequate ventilation.

Lighting and Temperature

Like most other snakes, Kenyan sand boas do not require UVB lighting to thrive. It definitely won't hurt, and may even cause your boa to be more active or improve appetite, but since they are more active in the wild at night they naturally don't need supplemental UVB lighting in captivity.

Temperatures in your enclosure should be between 75 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Try to create a thermal gradient so your snake can move to a warmer part of the tank that sits at 85 to 90 degrees when they want to, and then go to a cooler side of the tank (mid 70's) when they get too warm. You can use an undertank heater or heat lights to achieve proper temperatures but regardless of your heating elements, be sure to monitor the temperatures closely to make sure it doesn't get too hot or too cold in the tank.


Despite what their name implies, sand boas don't actually burrow in sand the majority of their time in the wild. They are found in places where there is some sand, but they usually choose to burrow into the forest floor, wood chips, or another animal's house where they wait for a tasty meal to go by.

Aspen shavings are popular among sand boa owners as well as recycled, soft paper products such as Carefresh. Many owners still use sand, both play sand and calci-sand, but fears of impaction cause most owners to choose a different bedding.

Feeding Kenyan Sand Boas

Adult sand boas should be fed once a week to once a month, depending on how hungry your snake is. Juveniles should be fed weekly, if not even more often. Pinkies and fuzzies are usually the perfect sizes for sand boas and can be cut up for smaller juveniles if need be.

Live pinkies can't hurt your snake but since they aren't always readily available most owners purchase them pre-frozen in bulk and thaw individuals as needed in a cup of warm water before feeding. Use tongs to present food to your snake to avoid being mistaken for a meal and always feed in a separate enclosure to prevent bedding impaction.

Also be sure to not handle your snake after feeding for about 24 hours to prevent him from regurgitating his last meal.

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