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  1. #1
    Registered User tickyyy's Avatar
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    Boa vs Python (question)

    So i realized that i want a hog island boa more than a ball python, but this would be my first snake. I do understand how to care for snakes after extensive research (1 year now), so i will not starve my snake or keep the humidity too low, etc.

    How much to hoggies cost?

    Whats their temperament like?

    How often can i handle them?

    Is their enclosure setup different from a ball python?

    Which make better pets?

    Can a boa kill me?

    Do hoggies do well with other pets/kids?

    How many hoggie morphs are there?

  2. #2
    BPnet Senior Member dakski's Avatar
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    Re: Boa vs Python (question)

    Quote Originally Posted by samsonact View Post
    So i realized that i want a hog island boa more than a ball python, but this would be my first snake. I do understand how to care for snakes after extensive research (1 year now), so i will not starve my snake or keep the humidity too low, etc.

    See my answers inserted here and below.

    How much to hoggies cost?

    Not 100% sure on the locale Hog Island, but I can find out with a quick email to a breeder friend. Crosses exist, such as Hypo Hog and Sunglow BCI, and they run in the $300-500 range.

    Whats their temperament like?

    I've heard mixed things on all dwarf Boa's for the most part. It really depends on the individual. In general, and I've heard this from several breeders, including Vin Russo (who told me not to buy a Dwarf BCI when I asked him - and he sells them) and Tommy Carpenter (who I did buy my Venezuelan Dwarf BCC/True Red Tail from), they can very active, and nippy, and feisty, but again, it depends on the individual.

    BCI's have a much, much, better reputation, even as youngsters, of being very tame/docile. Once they grow out of the, "are you going to eat me?" phase, they are usually puppy dog tame.

    I always recommend hook training any snake that can get over 5 feet and has a strong food response, and/or can do damage. My BCI female would happily take my hand off for food when in her tank and in food mode, but once rubbed a few times with the hook, is a total sweetheart. She's the friendliest and most inquisitive animal I have when out and almost seems to enjoy being handled. Her "brother," the BCC, is pretty close, but he's still very young, and we will have to see with time.

    Boas can get large, but are not necessarily meant to be huge snakes, especially BCI. Also, Female BCI are much larger than male BCI; significantly. How you feed, both what and how often, is instrumental in how large and healthy your boa will be. I am friendly with Jeff Ronne, the Boaphile, who also built all my tanks, and swears by keeping females, in general, in the 5.5 - 6.5FT range and 8-14 pounds for health and breeding purposed. Males, about 1/2 to 1/3 that size. A male can easily be kept as an adult at about 4-5FT and 4-6 pounds. Not much larger than a female BP.

    I can explain the whole feeding boas thing another time. Just know it's largely up to you. When you see BCI and BCC boas on the internet who are 50 and 70 pounds respectively, in 99% of those cases, those animals are overweight, overfed, and not long for this world. Even a female BCI never has to eat a rabbit, or even anything larger than a medium or large rat. And even then, not too often. They are known for slow metabolisms and for being incredibly efficient and using what they eat to maintain and even grow.

    How often can i handle them?

    ​As I am sure you have been told, no reptile "loves" being handled. Even if it doesn't seem it, it often causes stress, and 99% of them would be just as happy in a properly maintained tank waiting for food.

    However, my boas seem to enjoy it the most and get the least stressed of all my snakes. They are the most interactive and also the most compliant and docile. That's a great combination.

    Still, once established, I would not handle more than 3-4 times a week (and not on feeding day and for 2 days after - luckily once over a year or so Boas don't eat too often). When younger, and new to you, keep the sessions short and sweet. Always look for signs of stress and put the animal back if they seem overstimulated.

    I've had Behira, my female Ghost BCI, for almost a 1 1/2 years now. I can easily keep her out for 10-20 minutes at a shot and she will just climb all over me gently. However, most of the time, after a few minutes of crawling all over me, she just relaxes, and 90% of the time falls asleep on me, if during the day. I have many posts and pictures on her thread where she's fallen asleep in my lap while I am talking on the phone or watching TV, etc.


    Is their enclosure setup different from a ball python?

    Not too much. Humidity is similar, but they generally like it a little higher. I keep my Boas around 60-65% most of the time and bump to 75-80% for sheds. My BP is closer to 55-60% most of the time and bumps to 70-75% for sheds.

    Temps are similar. I keep a hot spot for the BCI of 86-89F (vs. 88-90F for the BP), ambient at 81-84F (about the same as the BP) and cool spot of 78F (about the same as the BP).

    Tank size is similar too if you get a male BCI and were looking at getting a female hog island or BP. Maybe a 3X2', but probably a 4X2' is best. If you got a 5X2' they would use the space and appreciate the added heat gradient, but it's probably not necessary.

    Which make better pets?

    IMO - Boas. They are better with handling as they tend to be more interactive and get less stressed. They eat like clockwork. However, they can get larger than BPs and other snakes out there and are also very strong for their size. Not necessarily a beginner snake.

    Can a boa kill me?

    IF you had a large one, and you fell asleep with it around you neck, and it got confused, and it for some unknown reason decided to constrict, thinking your neck was a large rodent, than it's possible.

    So, can one? Maybe? Would one? Has one? Not that I know of, an adult human.

    I never let a constrictor wrap around my neck. They can hang from it, but not wrap around 100%. Also, always know where the tail is. Pull the tail away from the body/the direction they are squeezing and they let go.


    Do hoggies do well with other pets/kids?

    No. Snakes do not do well with active movement and other animals, smells, activity, etc. They are solitary creatures and can get overstimulated and scared. Snakes bite because they are either hungry or scared/defensive, basically. Do not introduce other variables, if possible, certainly, until you really know the animal.

    Also, other animals and kids can hurt your snake, probably, easier and quicker than your snake can hurt them.



    How many hoggie morphs are there?

    Not sure. I've heard of Hypo Hog Islands and the cross of Hypo Hog X Sunglow BCI. Keep in mind they will get bigger than a Hog Island on its own.

    See above in BLUE for answers to your questions as best as I can give them. I have a two Boas (A female BCI and dwarf BCC/True Red Tail), 2 Pythons (one BP and one Carpet Python), and 2 corn snakes, and have been keeping reptiles for about 20 years of my 38 on Earth. A large number of those years I've kept snakes. I am (relatively) new to Boas, but I am totally sold.

    I would want to hear from you the answer to the following:

    1. Why do you want a snake?

    2. What is your budget for snake, enclosure, heating elements, thermostats, etc - for a final adult tank and what do you expect to spend feeding the animal?

    3. Do you want/need to feed F/T?

    4. You've stated this is your first snake - what gravitates you to something more advanced like a BP or Boa (higher humidity requirements, bigger size, bigger prey, BP's can be picky eaters, Dwarf Boas can be nippy, etc.) as opposed to something rewarding but that is easier for a beginner? An example would be a North American Colubrid. Corn snakes come to my mind first because of color, pattern, size, temperament, price, flexibility in environment, especially humidity, etc. However, kingsnakes and milksnakes, as well as Trans Pecos Rat snakes, and other rat snakes, such as Bairds, and even Hognose snakes, all seem like good options.

    5. How long do you intend to keep this animal? Boids (Boas) and Pythons average living 20 years plus when cared for properly.

    6. What kind of research have you done? Don't take this the wrong way, and believe me, I would not have spent my 1AM quiet time writing out all this if I didn't want to help, but you are asking a lot of questions that could have been answered by reading this forum or any care page on Hog Island Boas on the internet. That statement makes me questions whether a boa is the best FIRST snake for you; hands on experience matters. I didn't get my boas - the biggest snakes I own (and the most aggressive feeders, which alone makes them intermediate snakes if not advanced) - until 1 1/2 years ago after many years with BP's and corns.

    Please see above in answers to your questions, please answer these questions, and if you are still interested in either a dwarf Boa, or a male BCI (see above), I can point you in the direction of some top breeders in the country who I have worked with and recommend highly.

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  4. #3
    BPnet Senior Member artgecko's Avatar
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    I agree with the points Dakski stated and also echo his concerns regarding how much research you've done since you are asking some pretty basic questions..especially number 6...Anyone that knows the adult size of hog islands and the size of most boas, will know that the answer is "no".
    Not that I'm trying to be rude here, but you might want to do some more reading I think there's only been one death recored in recent history due to a boa (in North America) and I believe there were drugs or alcohol and a passed out person with a boa around his neck involved...So in short, safe handling procedures prevent issues and under normal circumstances, this shouldn't be a concern at all.

    I own several species of snakes and boas are my favorite. I don't own any hog islands, but do own a BCI (common hypo), a Central American BCI (motley), a BCA, and a pair of BCL. As you can see, I'm quite the enthusiast about these guys. I also own 5 BPs, so I feel like I can give you a fair comparison. I will try to answer your questions as I am going through the points below.

    Advantages to a boa over a BP IMO
    Their more outgoing temperaments (in general) and their better feeding response (again, in general). Compared to most BPs (IMO) boas will consistantly feed on f/t rodents without hesitation. Even when their humidity or temps might be a smidge off or in shed, they still want to eat. BPs can be more finicky that way and need absolutely dead-on humidity and temps..They can go on fasts for longer periods also (usually when adult) which can be frustrating for the keeper.

    BPs tend to be shyer and IMO this means that handling usually involves the snake moving to try to "get away" most of the time. Boas tend to move around a lot too, but it's more of an exploring type behavior vs. running away. With either, you want to keep handling sessions short and slowly build up the frequency that you handle them. You start with no handling for the first month while they're setting in, then only handling to do cage maintanance, then handling for very short sessions maybe 1-2x a week. I'd say my max handling time for either is a couple times a week for 5-10 minutes. If the animal is easily stressed, you handle less frequently.

    Disadvantages to a dwarf/island boa like a hog?
    1. Enclosure size- The boa will need a much larger and more expensive enclosure than a BP when fully grown. A BP can be happy in a large bin cage (think V70 in size), whereas a boa will need a pvc cage of about 4'x2'x 18"or15" Tall. I have my boas in cages made by Animal Plastics with heat tape, basking shelves, recessed LED lights, and locking sliding glass doors... You're talking about a $450 investment (not including the ~$200 t-stat) when said and done, but you'll have a very secure, insulated cage that holds humidity well and will serve for the entire life of the snake. I would not consider a glass aquarium an appropriate housing option and by the time all the modifications were made, it would cost almost as much or more to do properly. Boas are very strong, so the enclosure needs to be very well made to avoid escapes.

    2. Adult size/power/feeding response/etc.
    Boas, even hog islands or similarly sized ones, seem to be a good bit stronger in terms of bite and hit force than BPs (at least IMO). They have a strong feeding response and if you do get bitten, it will hurt more than a similar BP bite.. They have larger more developed heads and thicker neck muscles which I think accounts for this. They also get larger in general, than BPs and can be more intimidating to people not used to handling snakes. My boas are not agressive or defensive with me at all but they have such a strong feed response that they will sometimes slam the glass of their cages if I have my hand too close to it.. My BPs do not do this behavior. Tap/hook training is IMO a must for boas. If you are consistant with this, it will prevent mistaken feeding response bites.

    There are boas out there with defensive temperaments. In theory, the smaller the locality, the greater the chances of the boa shwoing defensive behavior. This can usually be worked with, but for a beginner, you would need to know how to handle a bitey boa and work with it until it tames down (if that ever happens). BPs can be defensive too, but it's much easier to trigger their "ball up" behavior and get them out of a biting defensive mode. Boas don't have the instinct to ball up, so might be more prone to bite in self defense than a BP would. Because of the potential for a food response or fear bite, you do not want to ever have your boa out around other animals. I keep my snakes in a room my cat doesn't have access to and when handling, I make sure the cat keeps his distance. The same with kids..They should not have access to the cage and only be allowed to touch the boa while it is being handled by an adult with proper supervision..I would not ever allow the boa's head to be close to a childs or animals..mistakes happen and IMO it's just not worth it.

    Size for boas can vary from 4' up to 8' and differs based on locality. That said, even a naturally small locality has the potential to grow quite large if overfed and many unscrupulous breeders cross localities or mis-lable common BCI or "mutts" as a specific locality... Hog islands have been bred with common BCI hypos to produce "sunsets" these have the potential to be as large as a common BCI and I have even heard of pure-bred hog islands getting as large as common BCI, so I would assume that you are looking at a minimum of a 5' snake for a male and possibly 6' for a female, so that would be what I would plan for.


    3. Diet/feeding.
    This is an advantage and a disadvantage. Boas will usually eat all the time.. They will beg and act like they're starving 2 days after being fed. Unlike BPs, boas have a slow metabolism and must be fed on a regimented diet. Failure to do so will result in a boa that grows too fast, becomes obese, and will die an early death. As long as you can adhere to a regimented feeding schedule and not be "swayed" by the sad puppy eyes the boa is giving you, then this shouldn't be a problem, but if you think you might be a softy and be easily swayed by begging, I'd go with the BP due to their ability to handle more frequent meals.

    My adult boas eat once every 3-5 weeks on average. My sub adults (~2-3 years) eat every 2-3 weeks, and by babies (0-2 years) eat every 7-10 days. My BPs by contrast are pretty much all on a weekly feeding schedule with some adult females going up to every other week.


    Closing Thoughts
    All in all, it is your decision to keep what you want, but do consider that either snake will be hard to rehome if you end up deciding they are not for you. Also take a good look at your plans for the next ~20 years. If your plans involve moving for college, a job, renting an apartment, living with family, etc. then you will possibly have a difficult time finding a place to live that will aceept your snake ownership...And owning an adult boa or an adult BP might be "scarier" for some non-snake people (compared to "cute" corn snakes, etc.) and might make it more difficult. I'm not trying to discourage you, but to inform you so that you can make sure you're willing to put in the extra work to find accomodations that will work for your scaley friend too. I didn't start building my collection until I purchased a house...I doubt ANY landlord would let me rent with the 15 snakes I have now lol..

    I think a small locality boa or a common BCI male would be a good first snake, but you have to be willing to go the extra mile on caging and proper handling procedures to ensure that you don't get bit and the animal doesn't get injured.

    If you do end up deciding to get a boa, please purchase a well-started baby or juvie from a good breeder that can give you background info on locality and lines (if going for an island boa). You will want to avoid purchasing from a dealer that sells different species. You will want to start with a baby so that you can "grow with it" and become more comfortable handling it.

    I think you'd be looking at a ballpark price between $350-$550 depending on the lines, who the breeder is, etc. if you see someone selling them for significantly less, I'd look at their reviews and reputation to make sure they are not crosses being sold as pure-bred hog island.
    There is a facebook group called "Pure Locality Boas" that you can check out and search to see pics of pure hog islands and poissibly ask around to see who's working with them. Cutting Edge herp (Vin Russo's business) works with hog islands. Legacy Reptiles also works with hog islands and other localities. These breeders (esp. Vin) would be more expensive than most, but you'd be certain of the lineage of the animal you're getting as he is one of the most credible breeders in the business.
    Currently keeping:
    1.0 BCA 1.0 BCI
    1.0 CA BCI 1.1 BCLs
    0.1 BRB 1.2 KSBs
    1.0 Carpet 0.5 BPs
    0.2 cresteds 1.2 gargs
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  6. #4
    BPnet Senior Member AbsoluteApril's Avatar
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    Re: Boa vs Python (question)

    there's not really much I can add, it's been covered quite well. Pure locality hog isle average $250-350ish. They are great boas but all boas are pretty great IMO. My regular boas 'hot spots' are in the mid to high 80s, I keep my hog isles slightly cooler at 85ish hot spot.

    There are no hog isle morphs unless they have been crossed with another locality of Bi. Hog Isle have their own natural hypo-type variations and normally have obvious light/dark phases. Photo below is my adult male, he's a very classic 'wild type' with lots of speckles. I really need to get some new photos of both of them especially the female. My female is more of a 'natural hypo', her baby photo is below the male (she's an adult now). My male was from Gus at Rio Bravo (no longer i business) and my female is from Chad Duggin.

    They can get larger than this. I feed mine f/t medium rats or small f/t rabbits.






    Quote Originally Posted by dakski View Post
    So, can one? Maybe? Would one? Has one? Not that I know of, an adult human.
    just fyi - it has happened before with a large Bi but not a common thing at all:

    https://www.wowt.com/home/headlines/96091024.html
    ****
    For the Horde!

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  8. #5
    BPnet Veteran JRLongton's Avatar
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    Re: Boa vs Python (question)

    You don't have any snakes yet. So, how do you know what you want?

    If you really want a snake, I definitely think you should get one, so not trying to discourage you at all. But snake keeping is such a hobby that people who aren't practicing it, don't really understand what it is they are getting into or what they may like about it.

    A BP and a boa are both wonderful, but very different in a lot of ways. Until you've experienced each, you can't really relate to the experience of either.

    I always suggest that people get a corn snake as their first pet snake. They give a great low stress, general snake experience. They require basic husbandry, are hardy, easy to handle, and just wonderful. I love mine to pieces.

    Plus, they make great reptile ambassadors. If you get a girlfriend who isn't into snakes, or a family member, or whatever, a corn snake is a great way to break the ice. You pull out the corn snake and nobody freaks out. Pull out a 6 foot + Boa, you may never see that person again. Though, sometimes that's a good thing ....

    Best of all, it would help you get a better idea of what you want out of handling a snake. If after 5 minutes are you getting a bit frustrated and wish it would just sit still, then a BP may be a better second snake, or vice versa. Besides, having two snakes (or three! or more!) lets you handle a snakes more often. I was terribly frustrated having only one. I could only handle three times a week . Now I can do it everyday, sometimes twice a day! In fact when I get home tonight, I'm busting out my male BP!

    Just my .02. Let us all know what you end up doing. You might have already noticed, but on this forum you'll find nothing but good-hearted support, advice and help.
    \m/

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  10. #6
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    Re: Boa vs Python (question)

    If I knew back then what I know now about Hog Island Boa's then I would have definitely had choosen that one has my first snake. Don't get me wrong though, BP's are nice and all and is an all time classic example of peoples choice for their first snake, but it all depends on what you are looking for in a snake?

    As many others have already mentioned, BP's are pretty laid back, come in tons of "paint jobs", tend to go off feed, like hot temps and need average amounts humidity and also really aren't a very active snake. I have slowly got away from keeping BP's mainly because of their typical food fastings and sometimes are very finicky.

    Boa's on the other hand (and I speak of dwarf Boa's) are absolutely wonderful IMO. They are also laid back, very active, very good eaters, like to be handled and tend to like cooler temps and average-low humidity. I currently have a female hypo Hog Island Boa and she is a sweetheart. She is very docile and loves to be handled. She nevers misses a meal and takes down prey like a champ. The only thing that pisses me off about her is that she likes to play with her food. She restricts it for sometimes 20 mins or drags it around and by then its cold. I usually have it get it from her and re-introduce it to her and then she finally eats it. She definitely has a corky personality and when its feeding time she is a major witch... LOL! I also have a Dumeril Boa and he is also a sweetheart. Gentle as can be and loves hangin out with me, and I mean hangin out. He is perfectly content in my lap or stretched out down my arm and just stays there. He has also never missed a meal, but tends to be alittle bit shy when feeding and doesnt like the tongs. So for him I lay the mouse in front of him and let him be. He tends to like his privacy when he eats....LOL!

    BUT in a nutshell, Boa's and BP's are like night and day in comparison. It really depends like I said before on what you are looking for in a snake. I really dont think you would go wrong with either species and lets face it, if you are gonna enter into the snake community you can never just have one snake!!!
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  12. #7
    Registered User tickyyy's Avatar
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    Re: Boa vs Python (question)

    Quote Originally Posted by dakski View Post
    See above in BLUE for answers to your questions as best as I can give them. I have a two Boas (A female BCI and dwarf BCC/True Red Tail), 2 Pythons (one BP and one Carpet Python), and 2 corn snakes, and have been keeping reptiles for about 20 years of my 38 on Earth. A large number of those years I've kept snakes. I am (relatively) new to Boas, but I am totally sold.

    I would want to hear from you the answer to the following:

    1. Why do you want a snake?

    I find snakes (and reptiles in general) extremely interesting and exciting. I forgot when I was writing that post that I have owned a corn snake before. Being someone who doesn't have much time to give attention to more demanding animals like cats or dogs, snakes seem very good. I would handle them when I had time, and in this case won't stress him out. You feed them once a week which is very easy compared to two meals for a cat/dog a day.


    2. What is your budget for snake, enclosure, heating elements, thermostats, etc - for a final adult tank and what do you expect to spend feeding the animal?

    My budget depends. As of right now, it is around $400 - $500, but I don't have a job rn. In the summer when I'm employed again the budget will go up. Food money shouldn't be a problem as long as I have a source of income. And yes I will set aside money for emergency vet bills.


    3. Do you want/need to feed F/T?

    Yes f/t is easier to prepare and buy in bulk and less of a risk of the snake getting injured.

    4. You've stated this is your first snake - what gravitates you to something more advanced like a BP or Boa (higher humidity requirements, bigger size, bigger prey, BP's can be picky eaters, Dwarf Boas can be nippy, etc.) as opposed to something rewarding but that is easier for a beginner? An example would be a North American Colubrid. Corn snakes come to my mind first because of color, pattern, size, temperament, price, flexibility in environment, especially humidity, etc. However, kingsnakes and milksnakes, as well as Trans Pecos Rat snakes, and other rat snakes, such as Bairds, and even Hognose snakes, all seem like good options.

    Colubrids are great snakes but there is something about heavy bodied snakes I can't resist. I would choose a boa over a python as I find them the perfect shape/size and temperament (when they are adults). I would love to work on nippy behavior as it's a challenge, and I wouldn't mind being bit at all.

    5. How long do you intend to keep this animal? Boids (Boas) and Pythons average living 20 years plus when cared for properly.

    I'm planning to get one snake and keeping it until it dies of natural causes, this will be my companion for life.

    6. What kind of research have you done? Don't take this the wrong way, and believe me, I would not have spent my 1AM quiet time writing out all this if I didn't want to help, but you are asking a lot of questions that could have been answered by reading this forum or any care page on Hog Island Boas on the internet. That statement makes me questions whether a boa is the best FIRST snake for you; hands on experience matters. I didn't get my boas - the biggest snakes I own (and the most aggressive feeders, which alone makes them intermediate snakes if not advanced) - until 1 1/2 years ago after many years with BP's and corns.

    I have done tons of research on bps (like TONS) and got curious about boas and instantly fell in love with them. So this is a switch between snake goals. I plan on doing more research but I've asked these questions because I know hog island boas are different then BCCs and I'm getting information from people who has experience from owning these animals.

    Please see above in answers to your questions, please answer these questions, and if you are still interested in either a dwarf Boa, or a male BCI (see above), I can point you in the direction of some top breeders in the country who I have worked with and recommend highly.

    When the time comes I will contact you, and thank you for all of this useful information.

  13. #8
    Registered User tickyyy's Avatar
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    Re: Boa vs Python (question)

    Quote Originally Posted by JRLongton View Post
    You don't have any snakes yet. So, how do you know what you want?

    Plus, they make great reptile ambassadors. If you get a girlfriend who isn't into snakes, or a family member, or whatever, a corn snake is a great way to break the ice. You pull out the corn snake and nobody freaks out. Pull out a 6 foot + Boa, you may never see that person again. Though, sometimes that's a good thing ....


    ​I'm female lol

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    JRLongton (01-18-2019)

  15. #9
    BPnet Veteran JRLongton's Avatar
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    Re: Boa vs Python (question)

    Its 2019, girls can have girlfriends! LOL.

    Seriously though, sorry about the assumption .

    So you had a corn snake already. Great!

    Be careful buying your Hog Island. Every expo I got to has people selling "100% pure hog island boas", and I'm sure they're not. One of the reasons we want a Hog Island is because they generally stay smaller than a BCI or BCC. Unless you buy from somebody you can trust, you may end up with more snake than you bargained for.

    Here's a thought, have you considered a leopard or blood boa? As I understand it, the blood and leopard genes are from the dwarf Central American boas. So instead of relaying on somebody's word, you could have visual confirmation that it is, in fact, a dwarf boa. A lot of those blood/leopard boas are pretty stunning. Price wise, they are in about the same range as a Hog Island from a trustworthy breeder.
    \m/

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    fadingdaylight (04-09-2019)

  17. #10
    Registered User richardhind1972's Avatar
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    Re: Boa vs Python (question)

    The leopards and the blood boas come in great paint jobs and stay well under 5ft even most Nicaraguan are about 5ft and none of the even there there all bci (bi) now are all not girthy at all either, even Bcl the Peruvian longtail boa arnt girthy and really great looking
    I love my boas and would agree with all the above that they would be a great first time snake as long as you Get the set up correct they will thrive ,they won’t miss feeds like most bp do except when in shed


    Sent from my iPod touch using Tapatalk

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