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  1. #1
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    HELP! Currently driving the struggle bus of boa husbandry!!

    New to ANYTHING related to snakes. My 12 year old daughter fell in love with a Colombian Red Tail Boa and after 6 years of begging for a snake and seeing how calm this guy was, we finally caved. However... we have tried our best to read up and anticipate as much as possible, but are at our wits end. It's been 4.5 weeks and 5 mice later and he still hasn't eaten. We bought the same size (fuzzy mouse) that the pet store was feeding him but he couldn't be less interested. No signs of sickness, easy to handle, curious and moves to both sides of the cage. He did shed roughly 2 weeks after we brought him home. It was a complete, successful shed.

    What we do KNOW is that we are having trouble regulating his cage.

    • We bought the zoomed desert aquarium kit but were reassured we can adapt in to work (it was the only one they had in stock at the time)
    • We have a day time and night time 100W heat lamp that we rotate, as well as a heating pad... but the thermometer stays at 81-82 on the hot side and only 75-76 on the cold.
    • Humidity fluctuations have also been sketchy but we have those somewhat stabilized by misting twice daily and covering the screen top with a towel.


    We are also going to be ordering reptilinks but they made it clear we need to get his temps controlled first to induce his appetite. We have a hectic schedule and need a simple solution to regulating his temp.

    1. What temp control system do you all have? We have been researching all of the automatic ones but want to be sure that what we purchase is going to work.
    2. Humidity still occasionally drops lower than we'd like and have been looking at automatic misters... do you all have a favorite?


    We read ALL sorts of care sheets, forums, flipped through books on boas and we honestly thought we were good to go. This damn snake as been WAY harder than we imagined... but we are certainly in love with him and committed to figuring this out! Just please tell us what to do!

    Thanks everyone!!!!
    Last edited by RedBoa_Schi; 01-24-2020 at 02:51 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User WhompingWillow's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Currently driving the struggle bus of boa husbandry!!

    A mouse fuzzy is likely too small. Try a mouse hopper. The thickness of the mouse should match the widest part of the snake. How are you preparing your feeders? What time of day are you offering? Boas typically have a strong feeding response.

    Do you just have a thermometer to measure ambient temps? Those are important, but so are surface temps, which you want to measure with a temperature gun.

    If you can post a photo of your setup, that would be helpful.
    BALL PYTHONS: 1.0 Pied/Clark, 1.0 Pastel Vanilla Super Stripe/Sunny, 0.1 Dragon Fly/Buffy, 0.1 Pastel Vanilla Yellow Belly/Cher, 0.1 BEL (Mojave Lesser)/Arya, 0.0.1 Normal/Norm, 0.1 Cinnamon Enchi/Peaches, 1.0 Cinnamon Calico/Yoshi, 0.1 Pewter Het Dreamsicle/Ariel
    BOAS: 0.1 Dumeril's/Memphis, 0.1 BCL/Artemis, 1.0 BCO/Grimm, 0.1 Suriname BCC/Rhubarb
    CORN SNAKES: 0.0.1/Mushu
    MORELIA: 0.1 Bredli/Zelda, 0.1 Granite IJ/Bridget, 0.1 Caramel Diamond Jungle/Pixie

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    RedBoa_Schi (01-29-2020)

  4. #3
    Registered User WhompingWillow's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Currently driving the struggle bus of boa husbandry!!

    Also, does your heating pad have a thermostat?

    I wouldn't worry at all about Reptilinks until your husbandry is sorted out AND he's eating reliably on mice or rats.
    BALL PYTHONS: 1.0 Pied/Clark, 1.0 Pastel Vanilla Super Stripe/Sunny, 0.1 Dragon Fly/Buffy, 0.1 Pastel Vanilla Yellow Belly/Cher, 0.1 BEL (Mojave Lesser)/Arya, 0.0.1 Normal/Norm, 0.1 Cinnamon Enchi/Peaches, 1.0 Cinnamon Calico/Yoshi, 0.1 Pewter Het Dreamsicle/Ariel
    BOAS: 0.1 Dumeril's/Memphis, 0.1 BCL/Artemis, 1.0 BCO/Grimm, 0.1 Suriname BCC/Rhubarb
    CORN SNAKES: 0.0.1/Mushu
    MORELIA: 0.1 Bredli/Zelda, 0.1 Granite IJ/Bridget, 0.1 Caramel Diamond Jungle/Pixie

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    RedBoa_Schi (01-29-2020)

  6. #4
    BPnet Veteran richardhind1972's Avatar
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    Re: HELP! Currently driving the struggle bus of boa husbandry!!

    You don't say how your little boa boa is? most boas start off on hoppers /fuzzies
    Some pictures will definitely help
    I use a free app called Tapatalk to upload pics if that helps

    A temp gun is $9/10 I think converted sorry I'm in uk
    Best way to check temps
    Once you get the temps correct it will probably start eating again
    Good luck

    Sent from my CLT-L09 using Tapatalk

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    RedBoa_Schi (01-29-2020)

  8. #5
    Registered User Renigaed's Avatar
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    Like others in the post have said, a temp gun is your best friend. Also, cool side sounds okay, anywhere between 75-80 degrees is okay, but you should really try to get that hot side up so that the ambient temp is about 85 degrees with a basking spot of 90-95.
    I like to keep my snakes in plastic tubs with only undertank heaters and a Jumpstart thermostat, seems to do the job really well for all of the setups. This is the thermostat: https://www.amazon.com/Hydrofarm-Ger...s%2C228&sr=8-4

    It's really simple, you plug the heat mat into the thermostat, place the probe either directly touching the heatmat, or inside the terrarium on or below the substrate (really just your preference, I prefer attaching it to the heat mat so that the probe isn't at risk of getting dirty or wet which would mess with readings) and that's how you regulate the temperature. The thermometer gun will help give you very accurate readings of the substrate temp.
    As far as humidity goes, it's always hard to keep humidity where it should be in a terrarium, especially if you have heat lamps on top. High wattage heat lamps (like 100w) are really good at evaporating all the moisture out of the air. I suggest trying a 40-60w combined with the undertank heater and that should do the trick and help you keep the humidity and temps a little higher You may need to try moving the heat lamp to the middle of the tank in order to keep the cool side warmer. If you're still having trouble keeping the hot side warm with the thermostat, try moving some of the substrate away, heat mats sometimes have a hard time penetrating through glass and substrate depending on how much there is.

    I would also like to mention that depending on what you're using to monitor the humidity, it's probably pretty inaccurate. Most of the humidity gauges that come from pet stores are super inaccurate. I use cigar analog humidity readers in my tanks and they are spot on. You do have to calibrate them yourself but it's very easy and there are tutorials online. This is the one I use https://www.amazon.com/Cigar-Oasis-H...s%2C232&sr=8-2

    Hopefully after you're able to get things more stable your baby will get better about eating. You may also want to try offering her rats instead of mice, it could be that she prefers rats. Trying different feeder items is always a good idea when you're having trouble feeding a new snake.
    Last edited by Renigaed; 01-24-2020 at 05:56 PM.

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    RedBoa_Schi (01-29-2020)

  10. #6
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    Thank you guys!

    I will take some pics of the setup and upload tonight so you guys can have a visual. I literally put everything you guys gave me links to in my amazon cart haha!

    The hygrometer/thermometers we currently are using is just what came with the terrarium... and after reading that they pet store ones rarely work, it wouldn't surprise me if you were right on. They do look a bit cheap.

    WhompingWillow --I don't believe our pad does have a thermostat, but I added the one Renigaed linked above! I believe our pad is a zoomed brand and I'm wondering if we need to upgrade since we do have a glass tank. Also the feeding: I've mainly tried feeding him in the evenings. I've tried draping his cage for privacy... putting him in a paper sack with the mouse (inside the cage)... and I've tried feeding him in the morning too. He always just turns his head away and never wants to engage. We keep the mouse in his sealed bag and stick it in a bowl of hot water for a couple minutes. I just stand there and feel around on the thing every 30 seconds-1 minute or so until I can feel that the mouse is softened and warm. Is there anything else I should do?

    Stay tuned for pics! I really can't thank you guys enough for the help!
    Last edited by RedBoa_Schi; 01-28-2020 at 06:35 PM.

  11. #7
    Registered User WhompingWillow's Avatar
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    Re: Thank you guys!

    Quote Originally Posted by RedBoa_Schi View Post
    I will take some pics of the setup and upload tonight so you guys can have a visual. I literally put everything you guys gave me links to in my amazon cart haha!

    The hygrometer/thermometers we currently are using is just what came with the terrarium... and after reading that they pet store ones rarely work, it wouldn't surprise me if you were right on. They do look a bit cheap.

    WhompingWillow --I don't believe our pad does have a thermostat, but I added the one Renigaed linked above! I believe our pad is a zoomed brand and I'm wondering if we need to upgrade since we do have a glass tank. Also the feeding: I've mainly tried feeding him in the evenings. I've tried draping his cage for privacy... putting him in a paper sack with the mouse (inside the cage)... and I've tried feeding him in the morning too. He always just turns his head away and never wants to engage. We keep the mouse in his sealed bag and stick it in a bowl of hot water for a couple minutes. I just stand there and feel around on the thing every 30 seconds-1 minute or so until I can feel that the mouse is softened and warm. Is there anything else I should do?

    Stay tuned for pics! I really can't thank you guys enough for the help!
    We'll help you get this figured out. It'll be good to upload enclosure pics, I'll post more once I see those.

    For now my suggestions would be to stop handling until he's had about 3 meals. If I have a strong feeder I may only wait to handle until after 1 or 2, but the shy ones I give more time to acclimate. The goal is to reduce as much stress as possible on the snake, and handling causes stress for young snakes, newly acquired ones, etc.

    What kind of hides do you have? Two is typical, one on the hot side and one on the cool side, but if the boa is especially small compared to the enclosure size, you can add more hides or add additional clutter. You want the snake to feel secure, so generally a more cramped area. The hides should be tight fitting. Reptile Basics makes great ones. Otherwise you can DIY hides out of yogurt containers, Tupperware, etc.

    Also for feeding, I'd stay away from the paper bag. That could be stressful for the snake. Just offer in his enclosure, mouse on tongs. If he ignores it, you can leave the mouse in his cage. Sometimes it can help to heat the head up with a hairdryer to make the mouse especially stinky (for pythons it is because of the heat pits they have).

    I'm sure others will chime in. It's good that you've ordered a better thermometer, temp gun, and a thermostat. That will help you really get a handle on your temps.
    Last edited by WhompingWillow; 01-28-2020 at 07:53 PM. Reason: Missing word
    BALL PYTHONS: 1.0 Pied/Clark, 1.0 Pastel Vanilla Super Stripe/Sunny, 0.1 Dragon Fly/Buffy, 0.1 Pastel Vanilla Yellow Belly/Cher, 0.1 BEL (Mojave Lesser)/Arya, 0.0.1 Normal/Norm, 0.1 Cinnamon Enchi/Peaches, 1.0 Cinnamon Calico/Yoshi, 0.1 Pewter Het Dreamsicle/Ariel
    BOAS: 0.1 Dumeril's/Memphis, 0.1 BCL/Artemis, 1.0 BCO/Grimm, 0.1 Suriname BCC/Rhubarb
    CORN SNAKES: 0.0.1/Mushu
    MORELIA: 0.1 Bredli/Zelda, 0.1 Granite IJ/Bridget, 0.1 Caramel Diamond Jungle/Pixie

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  13. #8
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    Re: HELP! Currently driving the struggle bus of boa husbandry!!

    My suggestion is a temp gun to verify actual temperatures where the snake is - floor on warm and cool side and inside both hides. Size up the prey if necessary, it should be almost as wide as his widest part.

    And thaw the mouse longer and more thoroughly. I thaw 15 g small mice in a sealed (lid on keeps heat in) tupperware of 110 degree (think warm but not hot if you don't have a temp gun) water for at least 25 minutes or so. Flip the mouse over halfway through if you're floating it in a bag so both sides thaw well.

    Have you tried braining the mouse? Stick a thumbtack or small nail or knife point through the back of the skull to make a small hole. The scent of brain and cerebrospinal fluid worked for me to get a picky corn and rosy boa to eat.

    Stay up late and try it a couple of hours after your household usually goes to bed. Don't forget to turn on enough lights to see everything when you feed him! But keep it dim if you can.

    Got a kitchen scale? Weigh the boa so you have a starting point to track how much weight he loses if he's not feeding. A 150 gram snake going to 145, in three weeks, eh. Not too worried. A 75g going to 65g is a lot more fragile and may need an experienced vet to help.

    BTW, if you do go to a reptile vet, write everything down and bring records. Purchase date, age of snake, date of all feedings, prey size and source, all the current husbandry parameters and enclosure measurements and equipment used, last shed, snake weight over time, description and frequency of weird behaviors, anything you can think of.
    Last edited by Meghenebk; 01-28-2020 at 08:10 PM. Reason: Spelling, ack

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    Re: HELP! Currently driving the struggle bus of boa husbandry!!

    Hereís the enclosure pics! I included a photo of him in my hand so you all could judge size... and immediately regretted it . Hopefully I didnít stress him out too much.... we are going to try the braining (totally NOT gonna freak out... ).

    And the Tapatalk app is awesome. SOOO much more my speed. Iíve never been involved with forums and it seemed so foreign!



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Re: HELP! Currently driving the struggle bus of boa husbandry!!

    HOLY CRAP!! The braining worked!!! Clyde FINALLY ate after 5 weeks.

    And I am here to tell you I have never owned a snake before this and about pissed myself when he actually grabbed that thing. Itís a good thing we arenít supposed to handle him for a while after eating because Iím going to have the heebs for a while after that.

    I really canít tell you how relieved I am that he finally ate. After you all check out the pics... Iím anxious to hear what we could/should be doing better.

    Also... I watched him swallow the whole thing and afterward he did have a mouth full of substrate. Heíll be ok... right? After he curled up for a bit, he came back out and started sniffing around the area he ate. Like he is SNIFFING, pretty active and roaming around his cage. Donít laugh.. Iím only used to dogs and cats. Does this mean heís still hungry? Did that mouse look too small?




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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