Perhaps one of the most
stunning snakes in the reptile hobby.
The iridescent sheen given off during the day light hours
is breath taking on these nocturnal snakes.
Rainbows typically grow between 3.5 and 6 feet in length
and live 20-25 years with good husbandry.
There are 9 different subspecies of this snake known today.
This slender bodied snake is generally a maroon or light
red color with brightly colored patterns surrounded by dark
borders. An excellent
boa for those who want the length of a big snake without the
Rainbows are found
down through central
Generally, these snakes are found in the forests, grass
lands, and swamps of this region both in the trees and on the
Females are generally
longer than the males. Probing
is an excellent way to determine gender but should be done by a
confident snake keeper or veterinarian as damage to the snake can
There are many
different ways to keep Rainbow boas, as with any snake.
These semi-arboreal snakes require vertical space in the
cages as well as large amounts of floor space to suit their active
lifestyles. Adults can
be housed in Neodesha, large plastic containers, and vision cages.
Vision cages are the best for monitoring, humidity support,
and ample room for maneuvering.
Adults can also be kept in a minimum 50 gallon tank but
larger is always better with these snakes.
Custom enclosures are encouraged and should be at least 4
feet long, 2 feet wide, and 2 feet high.
Hatchlings and very young snakes tend to do better in
smaller areas such as 10 gallon tanks or plastic shoe/sweater
boxes with appropriate ventilation.
Ventilation can be added to plastic enclosures via a
soldering iron or a drill.
Rainbow boas can be
housed on newspaper, butcher paper, paper towel, or reptile carpet
for ease of cleaning.
and Care Fresh can also be used
as long as the aspen is agitated daily and bedding is changed
weekly. Never use pine
or cedar shavings as the aromatic oils are irritating to snakes.
The ambient temperature
in the enclosure is more consistent with what people believe to be
a temperate snake than a tropical snake.
The temperatures should range from 72 to 80F°
with a basking spot maintained at 85F°.
Any higher than 90F° and these
snakes develop serious health issues and can die.
These temperatures should be maintained with a thermostat
and monitored with two thermometers ideally.
One thermometer should be placed on the warm end an inch
above the substrate and the other an inch above the substrate on
the cool end of the enclosure.
Under tank heaters, heat cable (outside the enclosure not
in the enclosure), heat tape, and ceramic heat emitters can all be
utilized to maintain air temperature.
should be maintained at 70-80% to keep this species healthy as
they do poorly in low humidity.
Prolonged periods of low humidity (under 50%) results in
Cage accessories should
consist of at least one hide box in the enclosure.
Hides can be as simple as a half a flower pot, half log, or
as complicated as a rock structure (make sure it’s well
for climbing are encouraged and necessary for this species and are
wonderful for enrichment. The
addition of hay or dried leaves offers new scents for the snake to
adjusting the cage furnishings once in a while is recommended for
enrichment as well.
Rainbow boas are
nocturnal by nature and do not require intense lighting despite
their desert habitats. However,
it is recommended that a 2.0 ReptiSun UVB bulb be offered during
the day light portion of the light cycle.
All snakes can absorb the calcium from their whole prey for
their own use but a UVB bulb still offers some health benefits as
well as promotion of natural behaviors from the UVA being emitted.
In the wild, these
snakes feed primarily on birds, lizards, and rodents.
In captivity however, most are fed mice and small rats
although the largest of them have been known to eat large rats.
It is highly recommended to feed only pre-killed prey as
live prey can severely injure or kill a snake.
Chicago Exotics recommends feeding properly thawed frozen
snakes are generally fed mice to small young rats every 7-10 days.
Adults are fed small to large rats every 14-21 days to
maintain a healthy weight. These
snakes can become obese!
Art of Keeping Snakes
Philippe De Vosjoli
New Encyclopedia of Snakes
Snakes of the World
John M. Merirtens
Give us a call if you need to make an
appointment! (847) 329-8709.
An educational handout concerning reptiles
and Salmonella is available through the Association of Reptilian
and Amphibian Veterinarians. Please
ask your veterinarian for a copy.
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