If you are thinking about getting a pet boa constrictor there are several things to take into consideration. Of all the boas, many people would argue that boa constrictors make the best pets, but these are not cats or puppies, they are large and powerful wild animals. Before making a commitment of care to an animal like this consider these two points:
- Size of a boa constrictor. A common boa (boa constrictor imperator) is probably the most commonly kept in captivity, and can grow to 7 – 8 foot in length. The red tailed boa (boa constrictor constrictor) can grow larger than 10 foot. A snake of this size will need a considerable amount of space to house, and handling a snake of this size can be potentially dangerous. A large boa will need to be fed sizable prey items – rats, or even rabbits for a large female. Putting large food in one end, ultimately means that a lot will come out the other end too – and you’ll have to clean that up!
- Longevity of boa constrictors. A boa constrictor can live for 20 – 30 years. That is a very long time to make a commitment of care, far longer than any dog could live. Are your circumstances likely to change in the future? What about when you go on holiday? Most people are happy to feed a neighbors cat for couple of weeks, but it’s harder to find someone willing to feed, water and clean a 10 foot snake!
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can ask the question – do boa constrictors really make good pets?
Well that really depends on your definition of a pet? Boas are very different to cats and dogs! They are not your typical pet, but since you’re reading this site I assume you’re not really a typical pet owner…
All snakes are fascinating and beautiful animals, and caring for them can bring immense enjoyment. I’ve been lucky enough to have my life enriched by a number of amazing reptiles over the year, and of those it is the boas which have always fascinated me the most. Many snakes are kept like goldfish, behind glass, look but don’t touch. These are usually shy, snappy, or venomous snakes which are unsuitable for handling. Many boas on the other hand, particularly the boa constrictors, are very docile and most will tolerate being handled extensively. While it must always be remembered that they are wild animals and they should never be taken for granted, and must always be given the respect that a large and powerful constrictor deserves, they are in general fantastic snakes to handle.
While it’s true that they need specific care, humidity, temperature, feeding etc. and that their lifespan makes them a very long term commitment, they are at the same time relatively easy to care for. They are less demanding on your time than a dog for instance… They won’t wake you up on a Sunday morning for your breakfast, or make you take them for a walk in the rain after dinner! You won’t find yourself leaving a party early because you need to let the boa out for a pee! Boa constrictors are also easier to care for than many other species of snake, and other boas (such as the beautiful but sometimes a little feisty Brazilian Rainbow Boa).
Boas are truly magical animals, and in my opinion they make fantastic pets for the right person. Only you can tell if a boa is a suitable pet for you, and the only way to do that is to learn as much as you can about them. Read about them, speak to other people who keep boas, and think long and hard before making that decision. All I can say is that my life would have been much less fulfilling if I hadn’t been lucky enough to have kept snakes for the past 25 years. For more information about keeping pet boas check out the common boa care sheet.