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How To Care For Your Boa
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Boa constrictors as pets. What are their interesting behavioural and personality traits? How do you keep them? What temperatures and humidity do they require? What are their dietary requirements? How do you handle them? What are their hygiene requirements? Are there any species specific diseases?

Over recent years boa constrictors have become ever more popular as domestic pets. Once the prospective pet boa constrictor owner understands the specialised care and maintenance requirements then they can expect to have a pet with an average life expectancy of 25 years which is not demanding at all but which still requires close supervision as they easily grow to 15 feet in length.

Endemic to South America, boa constrictors coil around tree branches and like to hang down from tree branches while they strike at any passing prey. In colour they are emerald green with black bands which keeps them camouflaged amid the verdant forests. Green tree boa constrictors are recommended as the best species of boa to keep as your household pet.

To house your boa constrictor you require two 40 gallon glass aquarium tanks with heating pads installed underneath or heating lamps set directly above the tank. Tank temperatures should be set to 80 degrees fahrenheit with humidity set at 80 per cent. Because snakes have to keep their skins moist the substrate has to be moist at all times. Our boa is nocturnal becoming active during the evening.

Layers of peat and sphagnum moss topped by sand and gravel should cover the bottom of the tank to depths of around 3 inches. Above this should be abundant leaf litter, decaying tree bark, dense foliage for the pet boa constrictor to use as shade and provide somewhere to sleep besides proving somewhere to molt and hibernate and for the female boa constrictor to lay her clutch of eggs.

In the tank there should be climbing frames and tree branches, toilet roll tube tunnels, inverted flower pots and plastic trays with holes cut into the sides to provide entrance points. At the corner of the tank place some upturned cardboard box as this would provide your pet boa with somewhere to take shade and to sleep or for your female boa constrictor to safely build her nest.

Early on in your pet boa constrictors lifecycle at 6 months old is the best time to buy one as your pet because it is in the nature of reared boa constrictors to be more tame and docile. When you buy your pet, look for any signs of ill-health such as misty eyes or exposed scales or nasal discharge or runny noses. If you see these symptoms then send your pet boa constrictor to your veterinarian.

From the pet owner's perspective the dietary requirements of the boa constrictor are undemanding if you can handle live prey. Such as mice, rats, shrews, rabbits. Most owners learn to handle live prey but there are alternatives. Some pet owners provide frozen mice for their young boa. Immediately upon defrosting they can be consumed by your pet boa constrictor as they resemble live prey.

Only feed your pet live prey about 4 times per week while it is young. When maturity is reached an adult rabbit once per week is enough for all the dietary and nutrition requirements your pet boa requires to stay both healthy and active. Always be aware that every pet snake requires more prey before it sheds its skin regularly during the process known as molting when it lies hidden for one month.

Similarly, before hibernation your pet boa constrictor should be fed live prey every day during October as between November-February there will be 3 months of hibernation where the food consumed will be stored as body fat. Another period when more live food will be required is once your female boa has become pregnant. After laying clutches of eggs, female boas lie on their nests until the young hatch for three months. During this time they lose 25% of their total body weight.

Sooner or later while you feed your pet boa constrictor the bond between pet and owner will begin leading you to be able to handle your pet. This is evident when your boa can be picked up on both sides before stretching out its neck while holding its head up and flicking its tongue about. Now you should be able to gently stroke its neck and let it curl around your shoulders.

Don't make any sudden movements as you don't want your boa constrictor to bite you as boas are sensitive to humans and can easily feel threatened. Stroke then slowly and don't let them coil around you. If they feel threatened by an sudden and aggressive movements they can deliver bites in their self-defence. Only let them slither on the grass in your high fenced back garden under close supervision.

Throughout your boa constrictors lifecycle you have to clean out its tank at least every week for the sake of hygiene. As algae and fungi can grow and spread microbacteria and viruses throughout your tank your pet can quickly become infected. Also prevalent is the presence of mite parasites infesting your boa constrictor's scales. Therefore it is recommended that you keep another 40 gallon glass tank.

Instead of becoming aware too late that your pet boa constrictor has an ailment you should pro-actively check your pets health by noticing when your pet is being sedentary for days or is ignoring its food or has misty eyes.

On the subject of germs such as viruses or influenza always wash your hands before and after you handle your boa and better still wear light gloves. Until you take precautions your boa constrictor's health is at risk from germs. For they can quickly contract these germs and start sneezing. Take them to your vets for antibiotics.

Keep your boa constrictors as pets solitary until mating time between March-April when you can keep one pair of males and females. Keep two 40 gallon glass aquarium tanks at all times for when you are cleaning one tank or require somewhere for your female boa to reproduce and rear the young.


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