Red Tail Boa | Gentle Giants

Authored by Todd Cornwell Unique Birthday Party Parties for Kids & Reptile Rescue

Red Tail Boa, gentle giant or the Big little

Boa constrictors, (both the true red-tail, and common boa click the link to learn to identify the difference), are wonderful snakes. They get rather large (females averaging 7-9 feet, and 30-50 lbs), but usually have great handleability and personality.

Red Tail Boa Keeping Tips


Like most jungle species, they prefer a more humid environment, which is very hard to maintain in your standard glass terrarium. I prefer a critter condo type enclosure, melamine (sealed wood), and sliding glass doors. In a glass tank, most of the heat/humidity goes right out the screen top of the cage. In an enclosed cage, it stays inside where the animal can benefit from it.


Babies are usually 1 – 1 1/2 feet long, and fairly skinny. They can be started off on frozen/thawed rat fuzzies. Adults get large enough for frozen/thawed small rabbits! When feeding is when most bites occur, missing the prey item and tagging your hand instead. I use feeding tongs when feeding to keep this mistake from happening. I always “hand feed” my snakes, I want to make sure they grab the prey properly and don’t have a chance of getting hurt (striking the sides or decorations in the enclosure). Feeding an appropriate size prey item no more than 3 times a month.

Most people overfeed their pets, leading to health issues.


Substrate again should be considered from where they come from. In a glass terrarium always use something that can keep the humidity level high (65-80%) measured with a hygrometer, in a wood enclosure, the substrate is not as important, it is more for what you prefer to use, as the enclosure itself is helping to maintain the humidity. I prefer cypress, nice to look at, and is great for maintaining humidity.

As with all “big” snakes, I “hook” train them. Since snakes have no eyelids, you can’t tell if they are sleeping, so you can startle them. A snakes first response is fear, so I always let them know I am picking them up, or cleaning the cage before reaching in. A “hook” can be as simple as a hanger, just touching them (I gently move their head away from me), before I pick them up or do anything in their enclosure.

As with all heavy bodied snakes, when picking them up, make sure you support them properly, 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. The middle 1/3 of the snake always supported, and not dangling them from the middle only, I have seen cases of snakes, whose back was broken from being improperly supported. All in all, red tail boas are typically gentle, calm, slow moving, easy pets to have, they make great companions.

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