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Red-Tailed Boa: Everything You Need To Know

A constrictor snake, the Red Tail Boa is one of the most common and popular choices for anyone wishing to have a pet snake of their own along with Rosy Boas, Ball Pythons, and Carpet Pythons. The Red Tail Boa is considered a large pet snake, growing up to 8 feet in length.

It is not considered dangerous to humans, as it only eats small prey and its bite is not venomous. The Red Tail Boa is considered a good pet for snake owners, especially first-time owners, and is easily identified by the beautiful, striking red markings on its tail.

Read on to learn more about the Red Tail Boa and if it is the right choice of pet for you.

Red Tail Boa Species Overview

There are four subspecies of Boa Constrictor, and while each subspecies shares many similarities, only the Red Tail Boa and the Argentine Boa are kept as pets:

  1. Boa constrictor (Red Tail Boa)
  2. Boa constrictor longicauda (Long Tail Boa)
  3. Boa constrictor occidentalis (Argentine Boa)
  4. Boa constrictor ortonii (Orton’s Boa)

The Red Tail Boa is a popular choice for many reasons.

While other pet constrictors can grow up to 20 feet, the Red Tail Boa reaches a maximum length of 10 feet. Red Tail Boas have a beautiful variety of colors to their bases, such as pink. tan. and brown, with darker saddle markings along their dorsal, going red as it reaches the tail.

Due to their beautiful colored skin, they are often hunted, causing some of the subspecies to be listed as threatened and protected.

The Red Tail Boa enjoys eating rodents and pests, so they are often seen around human residences, though they spend most of their time in rain forests and lowlands. They are also considered moderately arboreal.

Expert Tip: The Red Tail Boa is adaptable, capable of living in many different ecosystems with different altitudes and humidities throughout Latin America, mainly Brazil and surrounding areas.


Do Red Tail Boas Make Good Pets?

The Red Tail Boa is not a snake for everyone, so it is important to understand what makes it a good pet and what doesn’t. Here’s a brief look at the pros and cons of owning a Red Tail Boa.

Pros

  • Docile temperament
  • Grow between 8-10 feet in length
  • Beautiful and unique color pattern
  • Easy to care for
  • Easy to feed

Cons

  • Expensive to purchase ($1 50-$1000)
  • Live close to 25-30 years
  • Can weigh up to 50 pounds
  • Enclosures must be upgraded as the snake grows
  • Susceptible to respiratory infections
  • Prey food is costly ($20-$40 each)


With its docile temperament and beautiful coloring, the Red Tail Boa would make a great pet to a dedicated snake owner. While some would say this boa is great for first-time snake owners, its high cost, strength, and long life span should be taken into consideration before making any commitments.


Red Tail Boa Appearance

The Red Tail Boa’s most distinctive feature is the red-colored markings on its tail, while its body comes in a variety of base colors such as pink, tan, gray, and olive, while the dark saddles on its back are either brown or maroon.

The difference in the Red Tail Boa’s colors depends on where the snake comes from. The Albino Red Tail has a very light base color, with beautiful orange patterns.

Red Tail Boa Appearance
Red Tail Boa Appearance


Red Tail Boa Size

The average length for the Red Tail Boa is around 6-8 feet, with some known to grow as long as 10 feet, size can vary depending on the sex and build of the constrictor. Some are more uniform, while others are thick and stocky.

Females will grow larger than males, so it is expected the females to be closer to 8 feet and the males closer to 6 feet.

Red Tail Boas give live birth, with the offspring being 18-24 inches weighing only a few ounces. Most Red Tail Boas will grow their full length by the time they are six years old. Healthy adults will be girthy and heavy, weighing in around 30 pounds, with some Red Tail Boas that can weigh up to 50 pounds.


Red Tail Boa Care

It is important for any responsible pet owner to know the signs and symptoms of illness in your pet. As well as what normal behaviors and habits your pet will have when it is healthy.

Signs They Are Healthy:

  • A healthy appetite
  • Silky and gleaming skin
  • Soft breathing
  • Alertness
  • Healthy muscle

Symptoms of Illness:

  • Ignoring its food
  • Regurgitation
  • Partial shedding
  • Wheezing
  • Discharge from mouth and/or nostrils
  • Visible ribs
  • Excessive saliva

These are just a handful of things to look for to ensure the health of your Red Tail Boa.
If your pet snake displays any of the symptoms listed above, take it to your vet or local animal hospital right away. It is best to thoroughly research any breed of snake you are considering buying beforehand, as well as speak to a vet.

Expert Tip: Different breeds are susceptible to different illnesses, and it is important to be aware of what health risks your pet can have.


Red Tail Boa Diet

In the wild, Boas are ambush hunters, waiting patiently for their prey. They use their muscular coils to capture and constrict their food, which usually consists of small mammals, juvenile birds, and even lizards.

Being kept as pets, Red Tail Boas do not need as much body mass and therefore can feed on smaller prey. They usually eat rodents and should be fed on a regular schedule, with the size of the prey depending on the size of your snake.

While your snake is under three feet, feed them two mice weekly. Once they become larger than three feet, upgrade them to one rat and reduce the feeding to once a week.

At six feet in length (and larger) feed them one to two rabbits once every two weeks. Depending on their age. size, and if they are maintaining a healthy weight, your snake can be fed less frequently.

Red Tail Boas can become underweight or overweight, so it is important to pay attention and keep track of your snake’s growth, weight, and body mass.

Red Tail Boa Enclosure

The natural habitat of the Red Tail Boa has a high humidity level, which needs to be replicated inside its enclosure. Humidity around 60%-80% is best for your pet snake and putting a light above its water bowl will also help maintain the high humidity. If you use a screen lid for its enclosure, be sure to use a pegboard with lots of tiny holes.

It is recommended to use humidity gauges to monitor the humidity level inside your Red Tail Boas habitat. While first setting up the cage, watch how the humidity rises and falls, so you can get a good understanding of how to monitor and regulate it. Use a UVA basking bulb for the lighting, and cypress mulch as the substrate.

For the tank type, it is best to have one custom-made or get a plastic tub. Make sure that the size is 6 x 2 x 2 feet. These large enclosures can cost around $500. While baby Red Tail Boas can be kept in a 10-gallon aquarium, due to their quick growth rate, it is recommended to start with a 20-gallon aquarium.

Once they reach a length of four feet they should be moved to an adult tank. There are some varying opinions on the appropriate terrarium size for a Red Tail Boa (just like red claw crabs).

The main thing is to make sure you have an appropriate amount of space for your snake when it reaches its adult size. The rule of thumb is to get an enclosure as long as your adult snake.

Often people get enclosures that are 6 x 2 x 2 feet though enclosures this large are difficult to find and are usually custom made. Plastic tubs are recommended, as they can retain humidity better than other terrariums.

All snakes can be escape artists, so it is also important to make sure that your Red Tail Boas enclosure has locks or latches to prevent this. If your snake escapes, this can be dangerous for the snake, as well as any other pets or people living inside the home.

Expert Tip: Red Tail Boas are constrictor snakes and feed on small prey mammals. If you also own a bird, cat, rabbit, or a small dog, they could be at risk if your snake breaks loose.


Cage Set-Up

Red Tail Boas need a cage that has a temperature gradient, with the cool side and ambient temperatures set to around 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. While the hot side is set around 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit A UVA heat-emitting bulb can be used to create a basking spot for your snake.

Snakes do enjoy having a hiding place, so place a hide on both sides of the cage so it can be comfortable in both hot and cool areas. The next thing to consider is the substrate. The most common bedding used is Aspen, but Cedar mulch is more highly recommended.

It is important to remember never to use cedar or aspen shavings, as they contain oils that are toxic to snakes and other reptiles. The last thing for the enclosure is water. Your snake will want to soak, so choose a bowl that is large enough to fit your snake. Monitor the water daily and keep it clean.


Does a Red Tail Boa Bite Hurt?

Red Tail Boas are well known for their docile temperament and are not usually aggressive. Most bites that have happened are usually due to mistakes made during feeding. A bite from an adult Red Tail Boa is incredibly painful, but not lethal, and there are many ways to prevent bites from happening.

A bite from an adult Red Tail Boa is incredibly painful, but not lethal
A bite from an adult Red Tail Boa is incredibly painful, but not lethal.

You should first learn how to handle a snake, especially a large one. When holding a snake:

  • Always support their body weight
  • Make sure it is awake, and aware that it is you who is removing it from the enclosure
  • Snakes are head shy. so avoiding tapping or grabbing their head

Temperament varies from snake to snake, and their age also plays a factor. Red Tail Boas can be quite nippy when they are young and not used to being handled. Their bites are often quick and over before you realize what it’s doing.

Bites from adults are painful and can be severe, depending on the location of the bite and how you react to the situation. Red Tail Boas have sharp teeth that curve toward the back of their mouths.

If they bite and hold, it is suggested to remain calm or you could risk further injury. Often your snake will release on its own, so remain calm and wait it out. Once your Red Tail Boa releases you the wound should be cleaned and treated, as snakes carry plenty of bacteria in their mouths.

Expert Tip: Never handle your boa while it is shedding, as it may not be able to see very well and could become startled. And as with any animal, never handle your pet snake while it’s feeding.


Summary

The Red Tail Boa is a species native to Central and South America and is one of the most popular boa constrictors chosen as a pet. Needing tropical conditions to thrive in captivity, their enclosure should have humidity around 60 to 80%.

Have a basking spot around 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and an ambient temperature of 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

They are available in many different color morphs, the most popular being the Albino Red Tail with its white base and orange patterns. Red Tail Boas are most famous for their vibrant red tail markings. Common boas cost around $200, while the more unique colored snakes can cost up to $1000. Enclosures can cost close to $500.

Adult Red Tail Boas need to be enclosed in a habitat no smaller than 6x2x2 feet. For snake lovers, a Red Tail Boa is an exceptional choice for a pet snake.

Want to know more about owning a Red Tail Boa? Comment your questions below.

About Grace Hocker

Hi, my name is Grace and I am a pet lover. Ever since 5 years old, I've owned some sort of pet from Bearded Dragons to Rabbits. I have dedicated my life to helping pets, and am here to help you get the best for your pet!