The Colombian red tail boa constrictor (or simply red tail boa), is a large, majestic South American reptile common in the US pet trade. If you are reading this, you’re likely curious about just how large red tail boas can get. With this guide, we will attempt to describe how large these animals get at different phases of life, and things you should consider when looking to purchase one.
How Big are Red Tail Boa Babies?
Unlike many reptiles, boa constrictor mothers are viviparous. This means that she will give live birth to babies that have already hatched inside of her. She can give birth anywhere from 10-65 offspring (with 25 being the average) that are 18 to 20 inches long. Within a year, these snakes will likely reach around 3-4 feet. Their adult weight should cap off at around 30-50 lbs. You can expect them to reach their adult size anywhere within 3 to 5 years.
While you’ll need a larger tank for these animals as adults (measuring 6′ long, 2′ wide, and 2′ tall), it is recommended to place younger animals in smaller enclosures. A 10 to 20 gallon terrarium should be sufficient for a baby boa. You will likely be able to find this size terraium at your local pet shop. Pair this with a prepackaged boa constrictor habitat and you are all set. A general rule of thumb to follow is that the longest side should be no less than half the length of the snake. One sign that your tank may be too small for your pet is them suddenly refusing food.
How Big do Red Tail Boas Get as Adults?
At this point, it should be apparent that red tail boas grow to be large animals. As adults, they can reach anywhere from 6 to 9 feet. Females are typically notably larger than males. Of course, this doesn’t mean they can’t make great pets. As you can imagine, this captures the imagination of many eager snake fanciers. However, when asking “how big do red tail boas get”, it is important to keep their size in mind and make sure that you are ready to accommodate them. The last thing anyone wants is to see these beautiful animals released into a non-native habitat where their own safety and that of local wildlife is threatened.
Their Natural Diet
Like all snakes, these boas are obligate carnivores. In other words, you won’t find any sort of non-animal based matter in their diet. As the moniker “boa constrictor” implies, these snakes hunt by… well… constricting their prey. Because of this, they have evolved to have a large, muscular body. While red tail boas frequently search for food in water and on dry land, many (especially younger ones) will hunt in trees. As an adult in the wild, they would typically feed on large rodents such as capybaras, monkeys, wild boar, and even small caiman. Once they have consumed their prey, they will likely find a secluded hiding spot. There, they can digest and nap in peace.
Diet in Captivity
As you can imagine, few pet keepers have access to capybara and wild pigs. Thankfully, red tail boas can thrive on a more domestic diet. This includes large frozen rats, chickens, and rabbits. They will need to be fed an appropriately sized food item around three times a month. Of course, this is the case with most snakes.
However, the diet of these animals will certainly depend on the individual’s age. As hatchlings, they will need to be fed “fuzzies” up to medium sized mice. When they reach 3 feet, they can graduate to adult rats. Once they have reached around 5-7 feet, you can start feeding them larger prey.
The Natural Habitat of Red Tail Boas
Being native to Columbia and surrounding regions, these snakes adapted to live among trees, lowlands, and surrounding rain forests. While they are fairly large predators in their own right, these snakes compete with a variety of other animals. This includes caiman and jaguars.
Like most snakes, they are fairly solitary animals. They would prefer to keep a low profile hiding in a log or the burrow of another animal. Because of this, they have a naturally non-conflictory nature. Their low-key, relaxed disposition happens to make them docile pets that can tolerate regular handling.
Types of Red Tail Boas
While all red tail boas come from a similar region, it is still important to make the distinction between the different types. This is due to the fact that there are a few minor differences in size and morph variety. There are the Colombian boas (7-9 ft), Suriname (10ft plus), Guyana (10ft plus) and Peruvian (8-10ft). The Colombian variety happens to have the most morphs in the pet trade. Whichever snake you choose, it is safe to say that you will be handling a large animal.
Breeding Red Tail Boas
While red tail boas are occasionally seen as somewhat difficult snakes to breed, it is possible with proper husbandry practices. While these snakes do reach sexual maturity at a young age you should wait until they are closer to their adult size (around 3 years old). In order for these snakes to breed, they will need their environment to mimic the seasonal shift that happens between July and October in their native regions. This means keeping their environment at a low of 75 and a high of 82 degrees.
From October to March (when the female is ovulating), it is time to introduce the mating pair. During this time, you should also be gradually increasing the temperature of your enclosure. After a four month gestation period, your snake should give birth to a litter of healthy babies. You may want to read our aticle in regard to a little history on breeding red tail boa morphs.
Overall, boa constrictors are wonderful, impressive animals that can and do make wonderful pets. However, if you are in the process of looking at red tail boas for sale, we would advise doing your research first. The size of these animals means that there are a few things that should be considered before buying one. Before purchasing one, you need to make sure you have enough space, can handle it during basic transportation, and are capable of regularly feeding it. As long as you can make these accommodations, you will have a unique, long lived companion on your hands.