Common Name: Kenyan Sand Boa
Scientific Name: Eryx colubrinus
Origin: North Eastern Africa
Size: Up to 2 feet; short but heavy bodied; females larger than males
Lifespan: 15-20 years
You will find many ways on the internet, on "how to" take care of this animal. This care sheet is showing the way we found works best for us from our many years of experience of breeding and caring for this species.
Kenyan sand boas are becoming a popular pet snake. This is partly because of their generally docile nature but also because of their relative small size when compared with a normal common boa constrictor.
Enclosures: You can start babies in cages as small as 10 gallons. At around a year old, you can increase the size of the enclosure. There are several kinds that work well for sand boas, e.g., glass enclosures and any of the commercially available plastic-type reptile cages.
For adults, step up to an enclosure that is at least 30" x 12" inches (like Zilla critter cage 20 Long) or for a female, go bigger like a 36" x 12" (Exo Terra Large, or Zilla 30 gal). The boas like to hide in the substrate. You won't see them out very much but you can still decor your enclosure so it looks nice in your house. Your boa will come out some and explore, especially at dusk.
You can use several types of bedding for your boa. The ones that we like the best for them is Aspen and natural sand. Spot clean the bedding whenever they defecate. You should only need to clean the whole thing out about once a month or so. Disinfect the enclosure and change out the bedding at that time. Zoo Meds wipe out or vinegar and water both work well for cage cleaning.
LIGHTING AND HEAT
Kenyan sand boas originate from a warm climate and so they like it warm. Like all reptiles, they are dependent on external thermoregulation to control their body temperature. This essentially means you need provide a hot and a cool side to your enclosure. All the heat elements should be on one side and the other will then be the cool side. This way, your boa can move back and forth between the different temperatures depending on its needs.
The hot side basking spot should be at 90-95 degrees. Put one hide there and another the cooler side. The cool side can be between 75-80 degrees. Extreme night drops in temperature are not recommended. It's a good idea to use a basking light and an under tank heat pad also. The heat pads are usually placed on the hot side with a hide over it. We recommend a Zoo Med heat mat or Exo Terra heat pad which stays on 24/7 to give them a little bit of supplemental heat during the night. Both of these are placed on the outside, underneath the enclosure. You want a heat pad that only covers half the tank (or less). The basking light should be housed in a good quality light dome like Exo Terra and Flukers that has a ceramic housing to tolerate high heat and an on/off switch.
Use a good quality temperature gauge too, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras Thermometer. Don't guess at it. You can also use a rheostat and/or timers to control your heat source. We do not recommend the use of hot rocks. They have a tendency to heat unevenly over too small an area and can cause serious burns.
Keep a non-porous water bowl in with your , and make sure it always have clean water. Exo Terras water bowls or Flukers water bowls are good decorative choices or a good ceramic crock dish. Scrub the bowl at least once a week to keep bacteria slime from building up. You don't really have to worry about humidity unless you are in a very humid home. With modern heating and cooling systems, most people's houses do not have high humidity inside, even if the climate outside is very humid. 30-40% is a good range to shoot for your sand boa.
Do not handle your snake for several hours before you are going to feed it. They are ambush eaters. So they like to be hidden and grab prey are it "walks by". We suggest feeding inside the enclosure. Do not feed wet rodents. This limits the chance of bedding sticking to rodent when you snake is eating. They are generally very docile snakes, although they do have a good feeding response. If you are worried about your pet thinking you are going to feed it every time you handle it, then get yourself a snake hook. Just hook your snake out of its enclosure when you want to hold him.
Check out these hooks: collapsible hook for babies and larger hooks for adults. Using a snake hook when you take your boa out will greatly reduce the chance of you being bit from a feeding response. If you don't have a hook and are still worried about picking up your snake, don't come at it from the front. Reach around and pick your snake up from behind. That way your hand is not coming at its face.
Hatchlings to 2 years:
1 rodent of appropriate size once a week. This means the girth of the rodent should not exceed the girth of the snake (at it's biggest point, not his neck size) Some people say you can give them rodents 1 1/2 times as big as the girth of the snake. However, boas have a slow metabolism and we have found that they eat better and tend not to skip meals if you don't exceed its girth by much. Do not handle your snake for at least 24 hours after it has eaten.
You can cut back to 1 rodent every 2 weeks if you want. If you do this make sure it is a decent size meal, don't skimp.
Continue on the once a week regime with a slightly smaller meal than if you are feeding every two weeks.
Snakes in general tend not to eat when they are in shed. Just wait to feed until it has shed.
Babies boas usually will eat through the winter as long as they are warm enough. However, some adults may go off food during this time. This is a natural time for them to breed, and so not eat as much. Just keep an eye on your snake's overall condition and body weight. Typically, with a healthy boa, this is nothing to worry about. Offer your snake food every 2 weeks or so until it starts eating again.
As said before, Kenyan sand boas are becoming a popular pet. When holding your boa, always remember to support your snakes body. Sand boas like to explore however as ground snakes, are not as adept at holding on to you as other snakes.
Give your Kenyan sand boa at least a day to settle in to its new home before handling. Start slow and gradually increase the amount of time you have your snake out. Remember, your new pet's life is in your hands. So please take care of it properly.