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In spite of the snake's fearsome reputation, a boa constrictor can make a quite docile and even friendly pet with proper care and socialization. Because your pet boa will feed on fresh mammals, can grow up to 10 feet long and may live for 30 years or more, you should consider carefully the responsibilities involved in raising a boa before you purchase one. Once you have made the commitment to care for a boa, ensure his proper growth and good health with regular veterinary and home care.
Your Baby Boa
Most baby boa constrictors are between 17 and 20 inches when they are born into a litter of up to 60 snakes. They are fully formed at birth and will begin feeding soon after. If you have adopted or purchased a boa from a breeder, you should ask when the boa has last been fed. Expect to feed your snake live or freshly killed small mammals every 5 to 7 days. Never feed your boa anything wider than the snake's girth. Doing so could cause intestinal problems leading to regurgitation, stress and nutritional deficiencies.
By 7 months old, your baby boa may have grown to a yard or more in length and up to 30 pounds, feeding on full-grown mice or small rats, lizards, birds or other mammals, either frozen and thawed or freshly killed, every 10 to 14 days. Since boas will eat dead or frozen mammals as readily as live ones, and because feeding your pet live animals in its cage can be risky and messy, it's preferable to stock up on frozen or fresh meat from a reputable butcher to feed your snake. Use tongs to avoid getting accidentally bitten, and be sure to provide plenty of fresh, clean water in the cage to help your boa digest his food and as a bathing pool for times when your boa sheds his skin, which may takes place several times each year.
By the end of his third year, your boa constrictor is likely to have reached maturity and an average length of 7 feet or more. He may weigh up to 60 pounds. Though fully mature, your boa will continue to grow throughout his life, reach a length of 10 feet or longer and a weight up to 80 pounds, depending on how much you feed your pet. Overfeeding your boa may make it grow faster, but it is a potentially dangerous practice associated with excess shedding, stress and a shorter life span in snakes. In general, it is recommended that you feed your adult boa every 10 to 14 days.
Raising Healthy Boas
A healthy boa constrictor will continue to grow throughout his life. If your boa has stopped growing or is exhibiting unusual behaviors, he may be sick. The most common ailment in boa constrictors is the common cold. If you notice symptoms of illness, including lethargy, congestion, wheezing, or nasal or oral discharge, raising the cage temperature to 81 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit may create a more tropical environment and alleviate his cold symptoms. If your pet becomes inactive or stops eating or shedding, he may need a dose of antibiotics to recover from a secondary bacterial infection. In extreme cases, you may have to force-feed your a boa to keep him from starving.
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