The Rainbow boa is a common boa species that is scientifically called Epicratescenchria. It is also known as the slender boa. Mostly found in lower South America, perhaps its most distinguishing feature is its holographic sheen, which causes it to change color depending on the angle you look at it from, almost like soap bubbles do. This aesthetically pleasing phenomenon is a result of the thin layer of keratin on its coat.
Rainbow boa morphs occur in different colors and patterns as a result of the genes, hence the term ‘morphs’. Because of this, there are several different kinds, with more being founded periodically by breeders and scientists.
Rainbow boas thrive in temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and high humidity, 70 to 90% for adults, and 95-100% for neonates. If taken care of properly, a rainbow boa can live for more than 20 years and grow up to 6 feet long. They do well in captivity, provided that the required humidity is maintained. It might be a little difficult to take care of younger boas but this gets easier once it gets used to the environment.
How Many Rainbow Boa Morphs are There?
Rainbow Boas occur in 5 major subspecies, all of which occur in South America.
Coating Rainbow Boa
This subspecies is scientifically named the Epicrates Assisi, which was described in 1945. it is one of the more uncommon species and it is rather small, compared to the other subspecies.
Some of its distinguishing features are its brown coloration on its dorsal region with white walls. It also has longer hemipenian lobes.
In addition to being nocturnal, the Caatinga rainbow boa is a relatively shy reptile. It primarily feeds on small mammals but it eats birds too. Some people hunt it for its leather, but it is mostly killed due to fear.
Paraguayan Rainbow Boa
It is scientifically known as the Epicratescenchria Crassus. This boa originates from Paraguay, South of Brazil, and Northern parts of Argentina. It measures 5 feet at full maturity, and it has dark brown markings (sometimes a dull red) with a yellowish-brown coloration.
One of the more noticeable features of this subspecies is that it has five brown lateral lines at the top of its head and circular patterns that run along the snake’s back.
If taken care of well, a Paraguayan Rainbow Boa will live for up to 25 years. This subspecies is active, but it can do well in a small space. Extremely large spaces might make your snake feel insecure.
Colombian Rainbow Boa
This one belongs to the Epicrates Maurus subspecies. It is found in southern Central America, northern South America, and Trinidad and Tobago. It is the smallest among all the subspecies of the Rainbow Boa, and it is 3-5 feet long at maturity.
Most Colombian rainbow boas are brown with an S pattern, but with age, the marks disappear. Unlike the other subspecies, this one experiences color changing. At night, the pattern appears lighter and you might notice that the snake has a silvery bottom.
It is a semi-arboreal animal, which means it spends some of its time in the trees. This is mainly to get away from predators, but they become land animals as they get older.
Among all the subspecies, this one thrives in captivity. They are fairly easier to maintain since they don’t need as much humidity. For its enclosure, a well-ventilated wooden vivarium with climbing branches should be used. This is because wood is a good insulator of heat. This subspecies is comfortable with temperatures of around 80 degrees.
Argentine Rainbow Boa
This boa is endemic to the central part of South America. It is slender than other boa subspecies and an adult is 6 feet long on average. It has a yellow coloration with brown markings that form rings and spots.
This boa loves water, so its habitat should have a water basin large enough for it to lie in. The enclosure should also have a hiding place and be tightly secured but it doesn’t have to be too large. It also enjoys humidity of 75-80% and temperatures of 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Just like the others, this snake feeds on small mammals and sometimes birds. Ensure that feeding is done outside the accommodation area so that it doesn’t associate your hand with food.
15 Rainbow Boa Morphs
1. High Red Normal
This is one of the most common breeds of the Brazilian Rainbow Boa. They retain their vibrant red color since they have no color morphs.
This snake is medium-sized and it has a red base color, and it could take shades of orange or brown. The scales have a dark ring pattern along the back region and it has dark spots along its sides.
This is an anerythristic (anery) gene. It is responsible for the lack of red coloring on a rainbow boa’s body. Anery genes only affect the coloration of the skin and have nothing to do with the pattern.
This morph was originally done by Robert Seib, a scientist. Whether this gene is dominant and how to reproduce it is still a gray area.
This gene is anerythristic and recessive, and it gives the boa’s coat a brown coloration. Snakes that inherit this trait are born completely gray or white. In a few years, they get darker and some obtain a yellow shade.
This morph was founded by Arctic Morphs in Finland and it appears in two variations. One takes a dark brown shade and the other is a bright yellow rainbow boa.
4. Lockwood/ EBV
This is a recessive hypomelanistic gene. It is responsible for the reduction of melanin on the snake’s body. This results in the markings on the boa to be lighter. The markings that are expected to be black might appear brown. As they get older, the markings will get lighter.
The morph owes its name to its founder, Mike Lockwood. However, he sold the morph to East Bay Vivarium (EBV) who kept the breeding project going.
5. Damm Bell
The Damm Bell is also a recessive and hypomelanistic gene like the Lockwood. The difference is that the presence of this gene causes the base color of the snake to be lighter.
However, there have been discussions as to whether this gene is hypomelanistic since the markings on a snake with this gene are usually much darker than the ones on a snake with the EBV gene.
This morph also gets its name from the founders, Norman Damm and Darin Bell. It was originally found in a wild light-colored male.
This rainbow boa came to life as a result of the crossing of two other morphs- the Seib and the Lockwood. It has a combination of the anerythristic and the hypomelanistic genes.
The first ghost was produced in 2010 by Lockwood and Seib. At birth, the snake had a white base color and light gray patterns. As it grew, it obtained a light yellow hue.
The sharp gene is a recessive and anerythristic gene. It reduces, and in some cases, it gets rid of the red pigment. When this gene is present in a boa, it is born with a gray and sometimes black base color. This color changes to a dark shade of brown as the rainbow boa gets older.
This morph can easily be confused with the Seib morph when they grow up.
This morph has a recessive gene. Rainbow boas that carry it usually have darker markings compared to the ones with the hypomelanistic gene. However, the base color is usually lighter. This gives them a pink/ peach color.
There have been discussions that point out some similarities between the Pastel and Damm Bell genes, and some have even hypothesized that they might be the same gene.
This one was founded in the UK by Anthony at AS Exotics.
Calico morphs also have a recessive gene. It causes the carrier to have patches of reduced pigmentation, resulting in white patches on the snake’s body. This trait usually begins to get visible once the snake is sexually mature.
This morph was founded by Brian Sharp.
10. Chocolate Outback
This is a dominant anerythristic gene. Dominant genes are those that will be present in the offspring even if only one parent has the gene. This gene produces an excess of brown melanin and the boa begins to take this color by the time they are a year old.
This morph was founded by Outback Reptiles, hence its name.
11. Riso Xanthic
The Riso Xanthic came to life thanks to a recessive gene that gives rainbow boas a bright yellow hue as they become adults.
Not many litters were produced and they were all sold privately. This makes it one of the more uncommon morphs. It was founded by Greg Riso.
12. Eugene Calico
This boa is a result of the combination of a calico morph and a Eugene strip morph. The Eugene strip is a pattern morph that has stripes running along with it. It is still unclear as to how this morph was founded.
This trait causes the coloring on the ocelli resulting in a pinkish effect between the patterns on the sides of the boa. The origin and inheritance properties of this gene are still not known.
14. Albino T+
This is a recessive gene that causes the rainbow boa to lack melanin. It makes the boa unable to convert amino acids to melanin but it can still produce Tyrosinase, the enzyme needed for the job. This results in the snake having light coloring, no dark-colored markings, and normal eyes.
It was founded by Jaroslav Gilar in the Czech Republic.
15. Albino T-
This gene is also recessive and causes the boa to lack melanin. The only difference is that snakes with this gene are unable to produce Tyrosinase. These snakes are very light with no markings and they have bright red eyes.
This morph was founded and proven by Outback Reptiles.