Rosy boas are becoming popular as pets in many households these days. The rise in its popularity and adoption rates has to do with the reptile’s temperament, personality, and sociability. Even people who don’t feel naturally attracted to snakes, can’t help but fall in love with the rosy boa.
Better known for their docile nature, timid disposition, and non-venomous aptitude, rosy boas are the right pet for just about any home. Even children get accustomed to the shy rosy boa rather quickly and develop a lasting friendship. Add to that the rather long lifespan of the rosy boa compared to other pet species, and you got yourself a pet for life.
However, before you make your plans to add a rosy boa to your house, you should learn a little bit more about this sensitive animal, how to care for it, what to feed it, and how to make its life as comfortable as possible. This is why we put together this guide to help you get started.
How Long Do Rosy Boas Live?
One of the best features of rosy boas that appeal to many people is its long lifespan. We’ve all been there. Your pet dog or cat gets old and before you know it has to be taken to live on a farm somewhere in Upstate New York. The sadness that comes with the parting with your favorite pet is heart-wrenching.
Rosy boas tend to live for up to 30 years in captivity. That’s a very long time to have a pet. And you can expect the reptile to grow on you and become a part of your life. As you get older, your rosy boa remains by your side, keeping you company and being there for you in your moments of need.
Needless to say, the rosy boa needs to be properly cared for to reach this ripe old age. Some species of rosy boas under the right conditions might even celebrate their 50th birthday.
How Big Do Rosy Boa Snakes Get?
Even though rosy boas that live in the desert of California and Northern Mexico are much smaller in size compared to their cousins in South America, they keep growing for most of their lives. The average rosy boa is expected to grow to two to four feet during its lifetime.
After birth, a baby rosy boa is only 12 inches long. But within a few years, it will double or even triple that length. Baja and Mexican rosy boas are usually smaller in size than other varieties of this species.
Most of this growth takes place right after the rosy boa is born. Those formative years are when the physical attributes, as well as its personality, take shape. That said, a rosy boa won’t stop growing once it reaches maturity. But that doesn’t mean they become unmanageable. Their girth makes them easy to hold and cuddle.
Is a Rosy Boa Poisonous?
Of course, nobody would like to own a poisonous snake. That’s courting danger and no matter how calm the reptile is, you wouldn’t want to take a chance on its moods. This is why the rosy boa is such a lovable pet. It is non-venomous and doesn’t pose any danger for the people in the house.
That said, you would be wise not to rule out any potential accidents. Boas are not poisonous not because they live peacefully among other animals. They don’t need poison because they’re constrictors. When the rosy boa wraps its muscular body around the prey, it will literally squeeze the life out of it.
Better safe than sorry couldn’t be more apt here. Always keep other pets or small children away from the rosy boa until it gets familiar to the place. Understanding the habits of the reptile will also keep you on its good side and reduce any risks.
Do Rosy Boas Have Teeth?
Even though rosy boas are not venomous as we have just explained, that doesn’t mean that they have no use for teeth. The snake’s head has a unique shape and is distinguishable from its slender neck. Besides the vertical eyes, the most striking thing about the rosy boa’s head is its teeth.
If you got familiar enough to your pet rosy boa and opened its mouth you’ll be surprised at the array of hooked teeth that line both its upper and lower jaws. The teeth themselves are small, sharp, and hooked. The upper jaw has two rows of teeth while the lower jaw only has one row.
The main functionality of the teeth is not to attack or inflict damage or pain, rather to help the snake get a good grip of its prey, mostly rats, and swallow it. The unique unhinged jaw allows the snake to swallow animals much larger than its small head.
Do Rosy Boas Hibernate?
As cold-blooded animals, rosy boas don’t like it when the temperature in the winter months drops. And even though they don’t go through a deep hibernation process the way bears, for example, do, rosy boas tend to take it easy and slow their pace during this period.
They will go to sleep for long hours and only move about sluggishly during the daytime. This phase is called brumation and the reptiles will refrain from food altogether. Even if you offer them their favorite food, the snakes will not eat it since any type of food is lethal when the rosy boa is brumating.
To help your rosy boa go through the period of brumation safely, make sure the snake is healthy and has a good body mass. Lack of food can impact its health as the rosy boa tends to shed a lot of weight during brumation.
Are Rosy Boas Diurnal?
At what time of the day or night is the rosy boa most active depends to a large part on the temperature outside. We’ve already seen how the winter brings the metabolism of the rosy boa to a standstill that it cannot eat any food while it’s brumating. The weather also plays a major role in the rosy boa’s daily activity.
During the summer months when it becomes too hot for the snake, it tends to sleep out the hot hours and become more active at night. You won’t even catch a glimpse of your pet reptile during the day as long as the heat is stifling outside.
Come spring and autumn, the weather becomes more moderate, and the rosy boa starts crawling about during the day, preferring to sleep at night. This flexibility in its active hours has to do with the harsh desert climate that the rosy boa originally hails from.
How Many Babies Do Rosy Boas Have?
Immediately after the winter melts into spring, the weather warms up, and the living gets easy for the rosy boas, they come out of their dormant state ready for love. Spring is the time when the snakes mate for the purpose of reproducing. This is something you should pay attention to with your pet rosy boas.
Around 3 years old, that’s when the female rosy boa is ready to assume the responsibilities of motherhood. Pregnancy is usually about 3 months or a little more after which the expectant mother gives birth to a brood of 3 to 6 babies. After giving birth motherhood ends for the female snake.
The babies will disappear into any hiding places they find and survive on their own from there on out. So it’s better that you keep them in a separate enclosure and take care of the young ones together.
How Often Do Rosy Boas Shed?
Since the skin of snakes is just a bunch of scales cobbled together in a hurry to help the animal slither away with speed and agility, snakes need to shed it every so often. As their body grows, the scaly suit becomes too tight and needs to be replaced.
Growing up in their first year, baby rosy boas shed their skin once a week. That gives you an idea about how fast they grow. But as they reach maturity, the shedding pace slows down and can occur once every 3 months.
Once they hit the 4 years mark, they settle down and their growth comes to a screeching halt. That doesn’t mean they won’t fatten up. So every 6 months or so, they will shed their skin and get brand new apparel. Feeding might accelerate the shedding process as well-fed snakes tend to shed a lot more than others in less fortunate circumstances.
Can you Keep Two Rosy Boas together?
Even though the baby rosy boas seek refuge from the moment of birth and go seek their fortunes elsewhere, it doesn’t mean these cute animals aren’t sociable. They can live together and tolerate each other even though their whole language is made of the letter S.
Now, you need to think ahead and make sure the rosy boas are comfortable. A small terrarium or a crowded space will result in fighting and bad-tempered snakes for sure. Each rosy boa needs enough space to crawl around and its own hiding place.
Feeding time is usually a time of competition when you’re housing more than one rosy boa in the same enclosure. The biggest of the snakes will try to steal the food of the others which can result in fighting. If you need to keep rosy boas together make arrangements to feed them separately.
What Food Do Rosy Boas Like Best?
Rosy boas are strict carnivores. Only meat will satisfy their voracious appetites and get them through the cold months with enough fat to sustain them during the long sleep. In the wild, rosy boas hunt any rodent or bird that comes within close proximity to them.
These include rabbits, rats, and deer mice. But since you can’t possibly feed a bunny to your rosy boa no matter how much you love your pet snake, then your best option is to feed it the detestable rats. You need however to pay attention to the dietary needs of your baby snakes.
Baby rosy boas can’t devour an adult rat, so you need to feed them young mice. These are small enough to fit in the mouths of the young snakes. For adult rosy boas, a fully-grown rat will make a nutritious meal. In either case, you won’t have to go hunting live rats yourself. Rosy boas are not above eating frozen or dead rats.
How Often Should You Feed Your Rosy Boa?
Just like any other pet, rosy boas need a certain amount of food to survive. Give them less, and they starve, give them more and they become obese. Feeding your rosy boa should follow certain rules
- First Year: baby rosy boas don’t need much food at this stage. One pinky mouse every three days should keep them sated and healthy.
- Second Year: as they get into their second year, the young rosy boas need more food. You can give them 2 fuzzy mice each every 4 days. They’ll swallow both mice and take their time to digest them.
- Third & Fourth Year: now the rosy boa is approaching its adolescent years and needs more proteins to prepare them for the responsibilities of adulthood. Feed your rosy boa 2 large fuzzy mice once every 5 days.
- Fourth – Seventh Year: your rosy boa is now an adult. You can treat it as an equal or like the son you never had. It can now eat adult mice and 2 fully-grown rats should be offered once every 5 days.
- Over Seven Years: your mature rosy boa has a slower metabolism than when it was a strapping young snake. It only needs to be fed once every week. Give it 3 adult mice to fill it up.
These guidelines apply to rosy boas in general. Your specific species might need a different schedule or more or less food. To know your pet reptile is full, check its midsection is showing a slight bulge after the meal. That’s a good sign that it had enough food.
Why Your Rosy Boa is not Eating
Even though they only eat one meal every few days depending on their age and maturity, rosy boas might stop eating all of a sudden. The reasons are varied and range from the harmless to the quite serious.
- It’s cold. We’ve already seen how temperature plays a major role in the rosy boa’s life and digestive system. When it gets too cold, they can’t digest their food and it rots inside them which can be fatal. When the temperature drops, rosy boas go through brumation.
- They’re shedding. Snakes don’t eat during this process. They’re just too busy changing skin to eat. Don’t be alarmed. They’ll go back to eating once they have their new skin on.
- Rosy boas fall ill just like every other living organism out there. They might get mouth rot which is painful, respiratory diseases, or intestinal parasites. All of these prevent the snake from enjoying their regular meals.
When your rosy boa refuses to eat and it’s not brumating nor shedding, then you should take it to the vet.
How to Take Care of Rosy Boas
We already talked about rosy boas sociability. But we’d like to elaborate on that point in relation to the pets’ housing arrangements. Whether you keep your rosy boas in separate enclosures or place them together, it doesn’t really impact their temperament or affects their good manners.
Rosy boas are sociable, docile, and well-behaved pets. For the most part, they just like to lie down and enjoy a snooze every now and then. They let you pet them and hold them without feeling squeamish or getting inconvenienced. They also get along with each other famously.
However, feeding time is a different matter. Competition kicks in and tempers flare as one rosy boa tries to bully the others and take their food. To avoid the fighting that arises around mealtime, you can feed them separately. Take each snake out and feed it in a different enclosure.
Like many animals that prefer to hide, rosy boas don’t like large spaces since that makes them feel exposed. But at the same time, if you cram them together in one small vivarium, they’ll feel overcrowded and lose their cool in no time.
Age also impacts the rosy boa’s sense of territory. Young snakes can tolerate each other and don’t require a lot of real estate. A 10-gallon tank is good enough for them. However, adult rosy boas won’t accept a terrarium of fewer than 15 gallons in size. The larger the snake, the more space it needs. Consider adding shelves to give the adult snakes more room in the same enclosure.
Do Rosy Boas Need a Heat Lamp?
The answer to that is it depends. Since rosy boas originally come from the desert, they’re used to hot and arid climates. Cold temperatures make them lethargic and interfere with their daily lives. So if your house is rather on the cold side, you might need to make it warmer for the pets.
The best temperatures for rosy boas are between 73 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. A heat lamp would help them stay warm during the day and keep their body temperature stable. Try to make one part of the enclosure warmer than the other part. Rosy boas require different temperatures depending on the season and time of the day.
Handling the Rosy Boa Made Easy
When handling the rosy boa you need to be gentle in your approach and not force yourself on them. The young snakes are skittish and tend to hide a lot. Not until they have become familiar with you and your scent would they allow you to pet and pick them up.
Another factor to consider is your smell. Make sure you wash your hands before you handle the snakes because they’re sensitive to certain scents. Let them explore their terrarium and take things slowly with them.