Central American Boa Care

Central American Boa care is really not any different than their Columbian cousins.  There is a wide range of Central American boa localities, each having their own distinct color, pattern and adult size range. Typically the Central American boas are smaller than Columbian boas making them appealing to people who want a boa but want also want something that will stay quite small. Common Columbian boas and Central American boas are the same species (Boa constrictor imperator or just Boa imperator). These are a separate species from your true Red Tail Boa Constrictors (Boa constrictor constrictor) As a complete generalization Central American boas will range from adult sizes of 3-5 feet in length. Island boas such as the Hog Island and Crawl Cay localities tend to be quite small and mainland boas such as the Costa Rican boa tend to be larger. If you want an in-depth description of each Central Amercian locale along with any variations in care for each, I would highly recommend Vin Russo’s book. The Complete Boa Constrictor: Central American Boa Care Vin goes into great detail regarding each specific locality of Central America Boa as well as any differences in care. You can find my review of the book HERE. However, I will say most of Vin’s advice is relevant if you are trying to breed. If you are just looking for general Central American Boa care, then the care sheet below will work just fine!

Central American Boa Care

Central American Boa care: Enclosure
Central American Boa care: Enclosure

Enclosure

The enclosure you choose should be at least the length of your snake when fully stretched out. Longer is even better provided you have ample hiding spots! Most likely you will require an enclosure that is somewhere between 4′-5′ long and somewhere between 18″-24″ wide. Central American Boas are light-bodied and many of them are keen on climbing! I recommend providing at least 18″-24″ of climbing space. There are plenty of caging options n the market these days, but PVC enclosures seem to be the most popular as they maintain humidity and heat nicely. Animal Plastics has some really nice options:
Central American Boa Care
Photo from: https://apcages.com/collections/terrestrial-cages/products/t12-48l-x-24w-x-24h
  If you follow my YouTube Channel you know I have built a few of my own cages as well. You can see the examples in the video below or visit my DIY Page. I recommend having plenty of climbing branches and shelves too! Watch the video below to see who I built shelves for my Central American Boa (Winston) and secured climbing branches inside the enclosure.
Want to save money on cage decor? Check out my article on “How to Sterilize Wood for Reptiles” to learn how to use branches from outside!

Feeding

This section is SO important! So important that it needed its own post completely. I wrote an entire, in-depth article regarding how to feed your boa constrictor, Boa constrictor feeding chart Long story short, people tend to WAY overfeed their boas! Again, the Central American boa care is not going to differ from a Columbian boa but please do your research! The article above will provide you with what you need to know. I am intentionally leaving out specific feed routines and practices in this article because I’d like you to read the more in-depth article available.

Humidity

Humidity requirements are fairly straightforward for Central American Boas. I try and keep the relative humidity between 60-80% in the summer and 50-60% in the winter. Your snake should shed in one complete piece if they shed in pieces you need to bump up your humidity.
Click here to learn more about balancing your humidity levels: How to Increase the Humidity in a Terrarium
Central American Boa Care: Neonate
Central American Boa Care: Neonate

Temperature

This is another area where I personally believe people over-do i.e. keep their snakes too hot! Not too mention, some of the Central American localities can handle even cooler temperatures than their South American cousins. For example, in the wild Sonoran Desert boas are exposed to temperatures as low as 50°F in the winter months. As I said above, Vin Russo’s book goes into detail regarding temperatures for each locality but the general figures below will also work fine!

Summer (or year round):

  • Hotspot: 88-92°F
  • Ambient warm side: 80-85°
  • Ambient cool side: 72-78°F

Winter (cooling off the temperatures during the winter is not necessary if you do make sure you also reduce meal frequency):

  • Hotspot (no hotspot at night): 85°F
  • Ambient warm side: 78°F
  • Ambient cool side and night time: 70-72°F
If you cool down your boa in the winter, make sure you change the temperatures gradually over several weeks. You can use a heat mat, heat tape or even a radiant heat panel to maintain proper temperatures. You must use a thermostat! Read the article below to check out my favorite thermostats as well as how to properly set up your thermostat probe:
Best Thermostat for Reptiles: 4 Great Options and 1 to Avoid!
Your boa will tell you what you need to know if you observe them closely. They should oscillate between their warm hide and cool hide on a semi-regular basis (maybe once a week or once every 2 weeks). If they spend all their time on the cool side, I would consider cooling off the hotspot. If they spend all their time in the warm hide, I would but up your cool side ambient temperature. In my experience, boas like somewhat cooler temperatures. My boas spend the majority of their time on the cool side (usually 72-74°F) and tend to only go to the warm side to shed and digest.
How to Make: Radiant Heat Panel for Reptiles (Video)
Central American Boa Care: 3 year old
Central American Boa Care: 3-year-old, male.

Lighting

Central American boa constrictors do not have any specific light requirements but in my opinion, it is healthy to offer a regular photoperiod. I use LED strip lighting for my boas and I connect it to an outlet timer with a 12 hour on/ 12 hour off cycle in the summer and a 10 hour on/ 14 hour off cycle in the winter.

Substrate

There are plenty of great substrates to choose from! I personally like shredded aspen and coco-husk. Watch the video below or read the article for more information on the substrate.

Cleaning

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