The Brazilian rainbow boa (Epicratescenchria) is generally considered among the world’s most beautiful snakes. They display vibrant colorations, shades of red and orange, and a rainbow iridescence caused by microscopic ridges on their scales that refract light.
Availability, Size, and Lifespan of Brazilian Rainbow Boa
Rainbow boas thrive in captivity and are widely available in the pet market. They may be found at local reptile shows and exotic pet stores. Certain snakes are genetic mutations or “morphs,” but these creatures are scarce and carry a heftier price tag. At birth, Brazilian rainbow boas measure between eight and twelve inches. The average adult length is between five and six feet. Females are generally larger than their male relations, both in length and girth. Given proper attention and care, rainbow boas can make it to over twenty years of age! There are even records of females healthily reproducing at 24 years old.
Brazilian Rainbow Boa Caging
A wooden vivarium protected from moisture is the best option for housing your boa; wood is an excellent heat insulator and will help regulate the cage temperature. Glass terrariums can also be used, provided you limit the amount of humidity that is lost through the large screen top. Give your boa a vivarium that is at least 48 inches long and 18 inches tall. Boas are not small animals, and this height is, so you have room for foliage and thick branches for your arboreal boa to climb. Having this large of an enclosure also helps when you set up the temperature gradient. This gradient lets them thermoregulate without having to feel exposed. Remember the importance of providing hides for your boa, ideally one at either end of the temperature gradient. Large pieces of cork work well as a hiding spot and resist rotting quite well in high humidity. These boas require high humidity, so daily mistings are a must. Adults need 75 to 90% humidity, and neonates are happiest in 95 to 100% humidity. In both cases, make sure this high humidity does not soak the substrate. Consider using a bioactive substrate to help with drainage and raise humidity. All high humidity enclosures must also have good ventilation to bring in fresh air and ensure humidity levels don’t go above your pet’s requirements. Artificial plants make good, low-maintenance climbing toys, but live plants help keep humidity levels up. Avoid fish tanks with screen tops, as these lose too much humidity.
Lighting and Temperature
Ideal temperatures are a daytime high in the 80°-85° range and a nighttime low in the low to mid 70°s. In both cases, make sure high humidity does not soak the substrate. A heat gradient allows your friend to have a basking spot and a cool zone to thermoregulate as with other reptiles. Create the gradient with heat pads, overhead lighting, radiant heat panels, or heat lamps. Never let your Brazilian rainbow boa be exposed to temperatures over 90°F unless it is a gravid female since they are sensitive to temperature extremes. Thermostats are always recommended to regulate terrarium temperatures. Keep thermometers on the enclosure floor since this is where your boa will spend most of their time.
Light is the key to your Brazilian rainbow boa “glowing.” Use an overhead, low-wattage fluorescent light to produce the sparkle of your boa’s scales in a beautiful rainbow display. These boas are nocturnal, so turn the lights out to give them eight to 12 hours of nighttime. Using a reptile timer makes this simple for you, so you don’t have to fuss with the lights every night. If you have live plants decorating the enclosure, remember that they will need ambient lighting as well. Use low-level plant LED bulbs as a light source since they won’t affect the temperature or wake up your boa during the day.
The bedding you give to your rainbow boa must be able to withstand the high humidity without breaking down or molding. Suitable base substrates include reptile mulch made from cypress, aquarium gravel, or coconut products. Some bark blends, sphagnum, and other mosses increase the humidity and make the terrarium look more attractive. A bioactive substrate is the best choice since it helps drain excess water, allows live plants to thrive, and naturally increases humidity.
Brazilian rainbow boas usually have substantial appetites for both frozen and live reptile food. Wild rainbow boas consume small mammals, rodents, bats, birds, and even small lizards. As a pet, though, your boa can be pretty happy with an all-rodent diet. Feed hatchlings pinky rats or hopper mice once every four to seven days. As they grow, the amount of food they eat in one meal increases, but they only need to be fed once every ten days or two weeks. When provided weekly, they may become overweight. Prey size should not exceed the largest part of your boa’s girth. If your boa seems hesitant to eat, place it in a small tub or paper bag with the prey. Leave your boa alone with the prey for an hour. If not eaten yet, you can leave the prey item overnight. Please do not leave your snake unattended with live food items; they may damage your snake. As your boa grows, consider feeding only dead rodents and moving your boa to a feeding container for mealtimes. This feeding container conditions your boa not to associate food with the enclosure, which decreases the likelihood of them mistaking your hand for food. Let the boa discover the food item for themselves, as this develops gentle acquisition habits. Serving pre-killed or thawed rodents is safer for your boa since live rodents (mainly rats) can seriously injure your pet.
Available clean drinking water and humidity are both necessary to keep your rainbow boa hydrated. The water source should be big enough for your snake to soak in. Change this water frequently to prevent dirty or stagnant water.
Handling and Temperament of the Brazilian Rainbow Boa
Usually, Brazilian rainbow boas are docile creatures who can withstand regular handling. Babies are generally nippy for the first few months of their lives, though. This behavior is a natural instinct necessary for survival in the wild. Still, after a few easy meals and time to adjust, they often tame down. If your baby bites, let them hang on; This will show that you won’t run away, and it allows them to grow past their fear of your hand. Pulling away also hurts more than letting the baby hang on due to the shape of their teeth. Be steady and confident when picking up the babies. Just approach away from their mouth; behind is best. Rainbow boas are fairly active while being held, always moving while still keeping a grip on you. Move smoothly while holding them so that you don’t startle your boa. Never handle your boa directly after handling prey, as they might mistake you for food. Also, avoid holding your boa after a sizable meal, as this can result in regurgitation from stress.
Common Health Concerns Overheating and dehydration are the most common causes of rainbow boa mortality. Incomplete sheds, regurgitation, and wrinkly dry scales are all indicators of dehydration. Dehydration from low humidity can lead to upper respiratory problems. If your boa avoids food, examine their environment. Stress, illness, and poor husbandry are reasons why Brazilian rainbow boas will avoid food.