If you are brand new to reptiles and are wondering which species to start with, boa constrictors are likely to be one of the first you think of. An iconic snake species both in name and appearance, they are extremely popular (for good reason). The common boa or, red tail boa, is remarkably tame and possesses a great temperament—all the makings of a great pet snake.
While boas certainly have the potential to be a good beginner snake, a boa constrictor will be quite the handful (literally) for someone completely green behind the ears who has yet to have the pleasure of caring for a cold-blooded creature. Before trying to find these snakes, take a look at what you can expect when caring for one.
Caring for a Pet Boa Constrictor
The biggest challenge of owning a boa constrictor is its massive size. They can grow to be up to 10 feet long and weigh over 20 pounds. You’ll need an area of about 80 feet wide to accommodate them comfortably. These large-bodied snakes also have quite a bit of girth which can make them unwieldy and difficult to pick up, a necessity for feeding and cleanings. For this reason, pet boa constrictors are much better suited for an adult beginner, rather than a child.
Since snakes eat relative to their size, you can rest assured that your boa constrictor will need to eat a lot. Smaller snakes can thrive on mice, but boas will need more substantial prey such as rats and rabbits. It is recommended to feed your boa in a different tank than the one it normally resides in and cover it or offer some sort of hiding spot to provide it with a feeling of security.
Boas have a pleasant temperament and are easily tamed with frequent handling. Once again, their large size comes into play. Someone who has trouble lifting this large snake will have difficulty accomplishing regular handling, which can significantly interfere with the overall experience. Additionally, there’s a rule of thumb that snake-keepers go by: The larger the snake, the more aggressive it tends to be. While boas are surprisingly docile considering their large stature, they should still be handled with significant care and a healthy dose of caution.
Boas Are Great—But Potentially Challenging
Although boa constrictors check off most of the boxes of great qualities of a beginner snake, their size can make them a challenge to a first-timer. In addition to the learning curve of caring for a snake for the first time, boas’ substantial size adds another hurdle that beginners will need to consider.
If you are looking for a fantastic beginner snake for sale that is impossible to get wrong and requires absolutely no prior snake-owning experience, consider the demure corn snake or highly popular ball python instead. These species are a perfect and manageable size, non-aggressive and tame, and even friendly to boot. There is no better way for a reptile rookie to get the hang of things.