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Reptile Rapture,
6308 Monona dr, Monona WI 53716
608-221-0094, www.reptilerapture.net

ROSY BOA Caresheet

Common Name: Rosy Boa
Scientific Name: Lichanura trivirgata
Origin:  Southwestern U.S., Baja California, and Sonora, Mexico.
Size: 2-3 feet
Lifespan: 25+ 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 caring for this species.

Rosy boa babies can start out in small enclosures; hatchlings do well in 10 gallon glass aquariums. Adult rosys don't get too large. At around a year old, you can increase the size of the enclosure. There are several kinds that will work, e.g., glass aquariums or any of the commercially available plastic-type reptile enclosures. For yearlings, step up to an enclosure that is at least 30" x 12" inches (like Zilla critter cage 20 Long) or go to the adult enclosure size. A small male might be able to stay in a 20 long, but most adults do well in a tank at least 36" x 18" (Exo Terra Large, or Zilla 30 gal).

If you use a glass tank, you will want to provide a humid hide--that is, a hide that has some damp moss in it for extra humidity. A rosy boa will feel more secure if there is a hide for them on both the cool and warm sides of the enclosure (more about that in the heating section).

They are known for rubbing their snout on the walls and lid while searching for a way to escape the enclosure. Having the added security of the hides helps to discourage this behavior. Rosy boas are terrestrial snakes, so a tall cage is not necessary. Having a secure lid is, however.

You can use many types of bedding for your snake. The ones that look and work the best are Zilla jungle mix, Zoo Med eco earth, and Zoo Med forest floor. Spot clean the bedding whenever they defecate. You should only need to clean the whole thing out about once a month. Disinfect the enclosure and change out the bedding at that time. Zoo Meds wipe out or vinegar and water both work good for cage cleaning.

Rosy boas originate from the southern U.S. and in parts of Mexico, so they like it fairly warm, though they need to be able to cool off if they want to. Like all reptiles, they are dependent on external thermoregulation to control their body temperature. This essentially means you need to provide a hot and 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 pet can move back and forth between the different temperatures depending on its needs.

The hot side basking spot should be at 88-90 degrees. Put one hide there and another on the cooler side. This cool side can be between 75-80 degrees. At night, it can drop down to 72 ambient temperature. 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 that 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 digital 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 rosy boa and make sure they 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 will want to provide a humid hide--that is, a hide that has some damp sphagnum moss in it for extra humidity. When your snake goes into shed, your rosy will go into the humid hide and it will absorb the moisture and help it shed in one piece.

Rosy boas are good eaters. However, do not handle your snake for several hours before you are going to feed it. We do recommend feeding in its own enclosure. Feeding in its home will not make your pet more aggressive or associate you with food. Rosy boas are generally a very docile snake. If you are worried about your pet associating food with you, get yourself a good snake hook. Gently hook your snake out of its enclosure when you want to hold it. Check out these hooks: collapsible hook for babies and larger hooks for adults. Using a snake hook when you take your pet out will greatly reduce the chances of you being bit from a feeding response. If you don't have a hook and are still worried about picking up your snake, reach around and pick it up from behind, rather than from the front. This 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, we have found that they eat better and tend not to skip meals if you don't exceed the girth of the snake. Do not handle your pet 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.
Alternatively, 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 your rosy sheds. If your snake refuses to eat and is not in shed it might be drinking too much water. Some rosy boas have a tendency to gorge themselves on water, which will cause them to be to full to eat. If this might the case with your rosy boa, we suggest removing the water dish and limit their water intake to twice a week.

Rosy boas are a popular pet because they're easy to feed and handle, plus they usually have a very gentle nature.

When holding your pet always remember to support your snake's body. Once a rosy realizes that you will not hurt it, it often seems to enjoy being handled. Relax and give your snake time to get used to you. Avoid touching the top of the head. Unless it knows and trusts you, touching the top of the head will cause it to jerk away. The fast movement is called being "head shy" and tends to scare a lot of new snake owners. Most snakes will get over it with gentle handling.

Give your pet 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.