Lately I’ve gotten really interested in snakes. Our school is getting a snake named Ratters soon. Right now he lives with Jess until we have a cage for him (which she’s building). Since holding him and Jess and Zack’s other snakes a couple months ago I’ve been to a serpentarium (click to see my post about this trip) and Repticon.
After Repticon I asked my mom what it would take to for me to be able to have a snake, and she told me to write a thirty page report about snakes addressing the pros and cons of having a snake, as well as how to take care of them and keep yourself safe whilst doing so. I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks (including over spring break in Universal) and I’m a quarter to a third of the way through depending on how you look at it.
So far I’ve written about rosy boas and I’m in the middle of writing about Pueblan milk snakes. I’ve explored how to care for the individual snakes in regards to food, water, heat, humidity, the enclosure they’re in, and shedding. Every kind of snake is so different in the care that they need! Rosy boas shouldn’t have too much access to water in case their cage gets too humid, but Pueblan milk snakes should have a water bowl big enough for them to soak in at all times.
Here’s what I wrote about rosy boas. Please let me know if I’m missing things, any information isn’t totally correct, or if you have experience with snakes and/or other reptiles. Distinguishing fact versus fiction with online information is hard, especially when I come across wildly varying articles and blog posts.
This is the rosy boa. They can come in many different colors including, but not limited to, rosy pink, salmon, orange, brown, gray, white, and black. They are easily identifiable by the three stripes down their backs.
Rosy boas are are considered excellent beginner snakes for many reasons. They are easy to find because of their popularity and they are not expensive. You can get a Rosy boa for as little as 25 dollars. Other snakes cost hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars! Also, rosy boas’ temperaments are perfect for new snake owners and children. They are slow moving, docile and enjoy handling. They are also small snakes, even as adults. Their adult lengths are usually 2-3 feet, with very few reaching 4 feet. Their diameter as adults are around the size of a golf ball.
In the Wild
Rosy boas are found in the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. They live in rocky places where they can hide under rocks. It is best to buy a captive-bred snake for a couple of reasons. First, if you buy a wild-caught snake their temperament won’t be like a captive-bred snake that was handled from birth. It may also have parasites and injuries. Even if a wild-caught rosy boa didn’t have any such issues, if too many of them are taken from the wild there could be a potential problem with population. It is best to purchase snakes from breeders who know about the individual snake, its parents, and any issues it might have. Breeders should also let you know if they have any concerns about the snakes. They should be able to tell you how the snake is with eating and handling, and what the snake’s enclosure will need for your snake to thrive.
Because rosy boas are small, their enclosures don’t need to be large. Adults do very well in 20 gallon tanks, which are usually 24 x 13 x 13 inches. The enclosure needs to be escape proof because rosy boas are known for trying to escape. The top should be made out of a specific kind of screen, because the snake may try to escape and injure itself if it’s too rough or the holds in the screen are too large. Instead, the top should be made out of a softer screen with smaller openings.
This tank would be an ideal tank (minus the cactus and leopard gecko; never house snakes with your other pets). This tank is selling for about $170, but it is also possible to build your own tank with a kit for less money.
All snakes need something called substrate. Substrate is the material on the floor of the enclosure. Substrate can be wood chips, sand, and many other things. The substrate you choose should depend on the type of snake you have and what it needs. Different substrates contribute different things to the humidity, heat, and comfort level in the enclosure.
In the rosy boa’s case, it’s best to use newspaper, paper towels, wood chips, or CareFresh. Carefresh is like the bedding for hamsters or other rodents. Substrate should be changed every two months, and immediately if there is any smell. Also, with rosy boas, if any water is spilled in the substrate it should be changed immediately as this can lead to serious health problems. Besides the bimonthly cleanings, spot clean the enclosure 2-3 times per week.
Another part of the setup should be hides. Hides can be anything from elaborate little homes and (fake) skulls from the pet store to tissue boxes. Hides make the snakes feel safe. Some snakes like hides better than others, so for some hides aren’t as important.
Rosy boas like to have two hides; one on either side of the enclosure. One hide being the warm hide, and one being the cool hide. The temperature of the enclosure can be managed by heat tape or a heating pad and thermometers. The gradient of the enclosure should be the low 70s on the cool side and the high 80s on the warm side.
Something else very important when it comes to snakes is humidity. Some snakes, like the reticulated python, require very high humidity. Other snakes require very low humidity. Rosy boas are one of the latter. They live in very low humidity areas like deserts, so the humidity of the enclosure should not be more than 60%. If the humidity gets too high, the snake can quickly get respiratory issues. This is very dangerous and can quickly lead to death.
To keep the humidity down for the reasons mentioned above, you shouldn’t give your rosy boa constant access to water. Instead, put a water bowl in for 1 day 1-2 times per month. This way, your rosy boa still has access to water and the humidity won’t reach a dangerous level. As long as the snake eats well, the snake will stay hydrated from the mixture of biweekly water access and mice.
Related to the water is the food. Rosy boas only need to be fed one mouse 2-4 times per month. The age of the mouse will correspond with the size of the snake. Baby rosy boas will eat the baby mice, called pinkies, while adults can eat small adult mice. When you get the mouse, it will be frozen. When it is time for your snake to eat, take the mouse (it will be in plastic packaging) and submerge it in warm water. To make sure the mouse is completely defrosted, squeeze it in the middle. If it is completely soft and you don’t feel anything frozen, it is safe to feed to your snake. After feeding, snakes should not be handled for two days or until the mouse is no longer visible in the body. If the snake is handled at this point then it may regurgitate the mouse, and nobody wants that.
Thanks for reading!