Common boa, Boa constrictor imperator

Common boas are gentle giants and the perfect introduction to large snakes

At a glance...
  • Common boas are a large and generally friendly snake species
  • A great introduction to larger snake species
  • Beautiful markings with a range of morphs available
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Do Common boas make good pets?

The Common boa is a large species of snake indigenous to Central and South America. Despite their large size, Common boas are generally quite docile and will tolerate being handled, although younger individuals can often be a little snappy and require some taming down to become the gentle giant they are often portrayed as.

Common boas are characterised by a stunning brown and burgundy pattern along the length of their body, with the tail changing slightly in pattern and generally being a bit more vivid, making these a truly striking snake to look at. A number of artificially bred morphs are also available of this species, such as Hypo, Anery and Motley, meaning you are sure to find one that is appealing to you.

What size vivarium does a Common boa need?

Due to their large size, Common boas should be provided with a large enclosure to match. In nature, this species can often be found basking and feeding in the canopy and are considered to be semi-arboreal, particularly with younger, more slender individuals. At Swell Reptiles, we recommend a minimum adult enclosure size of 240 x 90 x 90cm (8 x 3 x 3ft), which will not only provide your Common boa with plenty of horizontal space but enough vertical space to add some arboreal perches and hiding spots.

We do not stock an enclosure large enough to suit an adult Common boa, which is usually required to be a custom build. However, the VivExotic Viva+ Arboreal Vivarium Large Deep is not a bad choice for a young and growing individual.

Do Common boas need to be heated?

Common boas are ectotherms, meaning they rely on external sources to control their body temperature, therefore, captive enclosures should provide them with a thermogradient to allow this. The ideal basking temperature for a Common boa is 32°C (89°F), with their cool end being closer to 22°C (71°F).

Due to the large enclosure size requirements, heat mats are not recommended for this species, as they do not tend to work well enough to warm such a large area. Therefore, an overhead heating system such as a heat bulb and dimming thermostat or ceramic heater and pulse thermostat is required. Depending on your set-up, you may also wish to protect this with a heat guard if your heating equipment will be inside the enclosure.

Do I need UVB for my Common boa?

Common boas are regularly exposed to sunlight and UVB in nature, and as such will benefit significantly from the presence of a low-level UVB within their captive environment. Research has shown the ideal UVI for this species to be between 2-3, which is most easily achieved using an Arcadia ShadeDweller Max placed between 25-40cm (10-15”) above the highest basking point. If your fixture will need to be higher than this, but no higher than 45cm (18”), the Arcadia ProT5 Kit - Forest 6% will be more suitable.

How do I decorate a Common boa’s vivarium?

You should provide your Common boa with at least two large hiding caves, one at each end of the enclosure to provide them with a safe place right along the thermogradient. Another important piece of decor is a large water bowl that your snake can drink from and soak in to remain hydrated and assist during the shed cycle.

Being a semi-arboreal species, Common boas should be provided with some robust branches and vines to climb up and perch on. These should be secured enough to hold the weight of these large snakes, particularly with older, larger individuals. Further enrichment can also be provided in the form of logs, tunnels and foliage from real or artificial plants.

What do Common boas eat?

Common boas are carnivorous and would naturally predate on a wide variety of other animals, from birds to rodents and even other reptiles. The main portion of a captive Common boa diet should be provided in the form of frozen-thawed rodents such as frozen mice or frozen rats, with rats being a better staple option due to their high protein content. Larger individuals can also be fed on rabbits or guinea pigs.

In nature, Common boas will often perch high up in the canopy where they can snatch passing birds from the air, so frozen chicks and frozen quails are also a great option for adding variety to their captive diets.

How do I buy a Common boa?

If you would like to purchase one of our UK captive bred Common boas, this must be collected in person from our superstore. To ensure our animals only go to the best homes possible, we will require a few images of your set-up, showing the correct temperature and humidity parameters with adequate lighting.

Please feel free to come in and see us, bringing your photos along where we will ask to see them and also ask a few quick questions to ensure you are ready for the commitment of taking care of one of these large snakes. We reserve the right to refuse adoption to anyone we feel is unprepared to adopt.

For more detailed husbandry information, please see our dedicated Common Boa Care Sheet or our Amazon tree boa care sheet.

Common names Common boa, BCI
Scientific name Boa constrictor imperator
Country Central and South America
Captive-bred Yes
Adult size 2.5-3m (8-10ft)
Natural habitat Forest habitats
Housing 240 x 90 x 90cm (8 x 3 x 3ft)
Ideal temperature 32°C (89°F) (warm end); 22°C (71°F) (cool end)
UVI 2-3
Ideal humidity 60-70%
Diet Carnivorous
Average lifespan 20-30 years
Personality Docile, can be feisty when young
Ease of handling Easy
Cohabitable No
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  1. Common boa, Boa constrictor imperator, care sheet
    Categories: Care sheetsSnakes

    Common boa, Boa constrictor imperator, care sheet

    Common boa, Boa constrictor imperator, husbandry guide from the experts at Swell Reptiles, covering housing, heating, lighting and more.