Dumerils Boa Boa dumerili Natural History
Dumerils Boas are medium sized terrestrial boas found throughout the southern regions of Madagascar. These heavy bodied snakes rarely climb, and are typically found on the forest floor where they blend in seamlessly with the ground as a result of their efficient cryptic coloration.
Size and Longevity
As with all boa species, females tend to be both longer and heavier as mature adults. This is a natural adaptation that aids the females when it comes time to support and give birth to up to a dozen live babies. Average adult size for dumerils boas ranges from 4 to 6 feet, with occasional specimens reaching nearly 8 feet in length.
These are long lived animals, and like many snakes will live many years under optimal care. Captive life spans exceeding 15 years are commonly reported, while life spans of 20 or more years should be an obtainable goal.
Baby and juvenile dumerils boas can be easily housed in standard all glass terrariums for the first few months of life. However, these fast growing boas will quickly require larger environments if expected to thrive. A single adult should be provided with a floor space of no less than 6 by 2 feet. Cages lacking height are acceptable as these animals rarely if ever venture off the ground.
Large boas will require either a large glass enclosure, which can be costly, or a custom built or commercially manufactured reptile enclosure. The cages produced by Vision Herpeteculture are an ideal choice as they are light weight, durable, and excellent at maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels.
Heating and Lighting
Temperatures for dumerils boas should be maintained in the mid to upper 80's during the day and can safely drop 10 degrees at night. A localized basking area that reaches 90 or more degrees is acceptable as long as attention is payed to ensuring that cooler ranges within the enclosure exist. Standard incandescent heat lights as well as infrared bulbs, ceramic heat emitters, and under tank heating pads may all be used to provide a proper thermal gradient for this species.
While no form of full spectrum lighting is required for these snakes, a consistent photo period is necessary for long-term health and well-being. Light can be provided during the day as a byproduct of daytime heat lights, or via the use of a standard fluorescent bulb. A standard 12 hours of light-12 hours of dark cycle should be appropriate during most of the year.
Substrate and Furnishings
The substrate of choice for these boas should be one that promotes high levels of humidity. Beddings such as reptile (orchid) bark or cypress mulch are ideal as they retain moisture and aid in recreating the humid microclimates that these snakes inhabit.
Furnishings for dumerils boas should be kept simple. At least one or two sturdy hiding places should be provided for these secretive snakes. While they will sometimes take refuge under the substrate, most dumerils boas will utilize half logs or slabs of cork bark if they feel the need to hide. Larger boas may require customized hide boxes made to be large enough to accommodate the animal.
Small logs, as well as both live and artificial plants may be utilized in terrarium construction to provide a naturalistic appearance to the enclosure. Patches of sphagnum moss can be added as well which will add not only color to the cage, but also aid in maintaining high levels of humidity.
Water and Humidity
Dumerils boas should always be provided with a large and sturdy water bowl. Fresh water should be present at all times, as these snakes not only drink often, but will occasionally soak in their water receptacle.
Humidity levels should be kept high within the enclosure. Regular misting of the entire cage contents with room temperature water will be required. The substrate used and the ambient humidity of the room in which the snake is housed will dictate how frequently you will need to spray the enclosure. Typically twice a day is sufficient, although additional humidity may be warranted during the snakes shedding cycle.
A single, appropriately sized food item should be provided to dumerils boas every 7 days. Young animals will accept hopper (barely weaned) and small adult mice. As the snake grows, so should the prey items being offered. Adult boas will require fairly large food, with large or jumbo sized rats being the norm.
A properly sized food item should leave a noticeable lump in the snake. If after consuming it’s meal, no lump is present, then larger pret should be provided. Snakes that have completed the majority of their growth (typically 3-4 years) may be fed somewhat less often, perhaps every 10 to 14 days.
Dumerils boas are generally very gentle snakes that tolerate handling well. As with any snake, start your handling sessions slowly, paying close attention to how the snake reacts. Regular interaction with these animals should not cause any problems, but beware of over handling. Excess handling can be a source of stress in captive snakes and may lead to medical problems over an extended period of time.
© LLLReptile & Supply, Inc 2006