The red tail boa, also referred to as a red tailed boa and correctly identified as aBoa Constrictor, is a very common pet snake species. They can be easily acquired from a breeder, pet store, or reptile show almost anywhere, and are easily identified by their red patterned coloration on the end of their tail.
Red Tail Boa
The red tail grows to be 8 to 10 feet in length and can weigh about 50 pounds full grown. They will live 25 to 30 years in captivity if well cared for and are a big snake for the average pet owner. They need to be seriously considered before purchasing due to their strength, size, amount they eat, and ability to constrict. They are not legal to own everywhere so be sure to check your local laws as well.
The reason these snakes are so popular is in part due to their typically docile temperament. They aren't usually aggressive snakes but even if they aren't upset they can do damage to a person quite easily by constricting to hang on to someone or biting them if they think your hand is food.
Red tail boas are native to Brazil and nearby areas where they spend time in rain forests and lowlands. Their environments vary and they are considered moderately arboreal.
A 10 foot snake needs a little room to move about but they don't typically like stretching all out. Snakes feel more secure when they are hiding under something and are curled up. If they are all spread out they feel vulnerable and threatened. Therefore, an enclosure that provides 8 to 10 feet of floor space, is a couple of feet high and a couple of feet wide is plenty big.
Probably the most important thing about your enclosure is how secure it needs to be. Snakes are escape artists and will push their way through unlocked lids and squeeze through small openings. All snake enclosures should have locks or latches to prevent an escape. Escapes are dangerous to both the snake and people, especially children, living in the house and nearby areas. Tied pillow cases work well for transporting or to temporarily hold a snake while cleaning an enclosure.
Since red tails come from a tropical environment, maintaining humidity should be taken into consideration when setting up a cage. Glass or plexi-glass sides and lids help to keep humidity higher in an enclosure but make sure enough air is still able to circulate inside and nothing will melt with heating devices.
Lighting and Heating
Red tail boas are from Brazil which means they like it warm. A basking spot of 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit should be maintained using heat lights or other means but stay away from hot rocks (they can cause thermal burns). The rest of the tank can be in the upper 80's and at night it can drop into the lower 80's.
Heat lights, ceramic heat emitters, undertank heaters, and incubator cages are all acceptable means of heating a snake cage. Just make sure your snake cannot get to the heating element and get burned.
UVB lighting is not mandatory for red tails, but if you want to offer supplemental light during the day, a UVB light is a great option. It may even help stimulate appetite, decrease stress and make your snake an overall happier snake.
Your snake needs a large, sturdy bowl for water. He should be able to easily fit his entire body in the bowl to soak. He should also have a hide box or place to escape heat and curl up in a quiet, hidden place when he wants to. Many people use wooden or cardboard boxes for hides and replace or clean them as needed. Tree branches may or may not be used by your snake but they won't hurt to add a little appeal to the enclosure and allow your snake the option to climb if he wants.
The kind of bedding you choose should be easy to clean since a large snake produces quite a large amount of droppings. Paper towels are great for young boas and repti-carpet or astroturf cut into removal sections are easy to clean for adults. Other materials that are often use include repti-bark, jungle mix, and other natural floor coverings. Sand is not appropriate for red tail boas.
Feeding Red Tail Boas
Juvenile red tail boas will be feed fuzzies, then mice, then rats, and once they reach adulthood, will be eating rabbits and large rats. Prey items should be pre-killed prior to feeding them to your snake and offered in an enclosure used only for feeding. Do not feed your snake in it's regular cage. This will decrease the likelihood of him thinking you are food and biting you accidentally or ingesting his substrate. The feeding tank should be covered with a towel while feeding to provide a sense of security to your snake, or you can place his hide box in it while feeding.
Red tail boas are large, strong, long-lived snakes and aren't for someone who isn't ready to make the commitment. Feeding them can become more expensive as they get larger, as will the time it takes to clean their cage. Make sure you are prepared before taking home any pet, especially one that lives up to 30 years.