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Rosy Boa - Lichanura trivirgata ssp.

Rosy boas are one of the smaller members of the boa family. Like many boas and pythons, they are nocturnal. These snakes are found in the southwestern United States, from California to Arizona. Additional populations are found from California south throughout the Baja peninsula and in adjacent areas of mainland Mexico. Rosy boas are listed as constrictors - they wrap around their prey and suffocate the prey until dead then usually swallow head first. Due to the diet, size and fact it a constrictor, I would consider this an intermediate stage pet.


Average Size - Approximately eight to ten inches long at birth. Rosy Boas when adults range in size from 2-3 feet (never more than 4 feet)

Life Span  - Up to 15 + years

Diet - In captivity mainly mice and small rats.

Feeding - Many snakes can take in surprisingly large (for their body and head size) prey. Rosys have a relatively small gape, however, and so need to be fed small prey items. Captive bred Rosys are easily fed on killed mice, with young started out on pinkies, moving up to adult mice when they are full grown. Young should be fed once or twice a week, adults once every 7-10 days. Given their nocturnal habits, they are best fed at night.

Housing Size - A baby rosy boa can be kept in a ten gallon aquarium or enclosure of similar size. Upon reaching full adult size (about three to four years), a rosy boa will require an enclosure with the minimum dimensions of a standard forty gallon or larger aquarium.

Substrate - Cedar shavings are unacceptable as they cause respiratory problems in snakes Reptile bark can be purchased in pet stores, and is attractive and natural-looking. Plain paper can be such as paper towels work well. This substrate, while not particularly attractive, allows one to keep the cage very clean by continuously replacing the soiled paper. Astroturf can be used, but it does tend to rot easily if wetted, so it is best to have several pieces cut to fit the cage so you can rotate dirty and clean pieces.

Habitat -  Provide suitable hiding areas at both warm and cool areas, so the snake can feel secure at any temperature.

Temperature - Provide a thermal gradient by placing a heat pad under one end of the cageor by using an incandescent light or ceramic heater. This should allow the snake to choose from higher temperatures, about 85-90 degrees F at the warm end, and cooler temperatures, about 70-75 degrees F at the cooler end.  Temperatures below 75F should be avoided.

Lighting -No special lighting is needed. These Boas are nocturnal snakes, spending their days in the wild securely hidden away from possible predators. To make it easier to see your Boa during the day, you can use a full-spectrum light or low wattage incandescent bulb in the enclosure during the day. Make sure the snake cannot get into direct contact with the light bulbs.

Water - You can provide a water bowl provided the snake is not able to tip it over and that you do not fill it up so high that if the snake climbs into it to soak it will not overflow. This snake does not need high humidity, you actually can keep the habitat somewhat dry. Daily misting is not necessary.

Normal Behavior and Interaction They are shy, terrestrial animals that will bury themselves in loose soil. When threatened, the rosy boa may curl itself into a ball, hiding its head in the center; the tail, which is left outside, is raised and moves back and forth so that it looks like it is ready to strike. Rosies seldom bite when handled

Recommended Supplies:

  • Habitat with secure lid
  • Thermometer
  • Misting bottle
  • Humidity gauge
  • Book about garter or water snakes
  • Light timer
  • Substrate
  • Hide box or driftwood
  • Water dish
  • Undertank heat source
  • Incandescent light or ceramic heater
Normal  Behavior and Interaction  As snake gets ready to shed, eyes will turn a milky blue over the course of a few days and body color will start to dull and develop a whitish sheen. Appetite may diminish during winter months

Habitat Maintenance Change water daily, clean droppings. Thoroughly clean the tank at least once week: set snake aside in a secure habitat - a snake/reptile bag works well; scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all smell of bleach; dry the tank and furnishings; and add clean substrate

Grooming and Hygiene Boa's will regularly shed their skin; ensure humidity of habitat is at appropriate level to allow your snake to shed properly. To facilitate shedding, bathe snake in a large container that allows snake to immerse its entire body. Always wash your hands before and after touching your snake or habitat contents to help prevent Salmonella and other infectious diseases

Signs of a Healthy Pet:  

  • Clear eyes (except when shedding)
  • Clear nose and mouth
  • Body is rounded and full
  • Active and alert
  • Eats regularly
  • Healthy skin
Common Health Issues and Red Flags:

  • Wrinkled or rubbed skin
  • Vomiting
  • Discharge in nose or mouth
  • Lethargy
  • Abnormal feces or urine
  • Decreased appetite
If you notice any of these signs, please contact your exotic animal veterinarian.

As with all pets in this category, it is important that you find a veterinarian that practices in EXOTICS – this is critical. The typical small animal practitioner may not have sufficient knowledge in this area.

Even this guide is general in nature and should not be used to diagnose your pet

Page Last Updated: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 21:28 EST
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