The Dumeril’s Boa is a popular boa constrictor from Madagascar that has maintained popularity in the reptile world for decades due to its beautiful patterns and relatively docile behavior. The Dumeril Boa is also smaller than many boas, making it a better option for people looking for a smaller-sized boa constrictor. Hopefully, this Durmeril’s boa care guide will help you understand if this boa is right for you!
Basic Dumeril’s Boa care requires that you understand their enclosure needs, diet, temperature, humidity levels, handling, and much more. Proper care of a Dumeril’s Boa is key to keeping it happy and healthy in captivity.
Taking care of the Dumeril’s Boa requires learning how to replicate their natural habitat to bolster their health. For the right owner, this beautiful boa can be a great pet that can live many years. Read on to learn more about the best methods for keeping the Dumeril’s Boa in captivity.
Dumeril’s Boa Size And Appearance
One of the major advantages of the Dumeril’s Boa is its size. While some boa constrictors get quite large, the Dumeril’s Boa stays under ten feet its entire life at 3-6 feet long on average. However, don’t let their smaller size make you complacent. You still need to exercise caution especially around a small child or a household pet like a dog or cat.
While a Dumeril’s Boa doesn’t have the reputation of being aggressive, it’s still a strong snake at full size, and capable of delivering a nasty bite. Regular handling from a young age can make it more manageable when it gets to its adult size.
Here are some tips for handling a Dumeril’s Boa safely at its full size (Source: Lafeber Company):
- Have a secure enclosure. Since large snakes are dangerous if they escape from their enclosure, it’s important that your tank or enclosure is not only large enough to comfortably house your Dumeril’s Boa, but also strong enough to contain them if they try to escape from it.
- Don’t smell like food. Keep in mind that a snake has a much better sense of smell than it does vision. This makes it easy for a snake to smell dead rats or other food on your hands and mistake your hands for food, especially when the snake is hungry or expecting to be fed. Use gloves and keep your hands clean to avoid smelling like prey.
- Observe the snake’s body language. All snakes have clear indicators that they feel fearful or aggressive, such as a rapidly flickering tongue and a fixated gaze at an object of interest. When defensive and ready to attack in defense, many snakes will rise into a distinctive S-shape.
The Dumeril’s Boa may have a size that makes it more manageable than many large constrictors, but it should still be handled carefully to avoid any accidents. Warning the snake that you are going to handle it by touching it gently with a snake hook before going to pick it up can help teach the snake not to strike any time the cage door is opened.
Dumeril’s Boa Appearance
The Dumeril’s Boa has a wild type coloration of a dull brown coloration with patches of dark chocolate brown across its head, neck, and body. Like many boas, the Dumeril’s Boa has a light-colored underbelly.
Unlike many boas and constrictors, the Dumeril’s Boa doesn’t have a wide range of proven genetic morphs and colorations. German breeders have recently begun to line-breed an albino strain of Dumeril’s Boas with a caramel coloration. However, these snakes are not available for purchase in the mainstream market yet.
Dumeril’s Boa Lifespan
The lifespan of the Dumeril’s Boa is roughly 20 years in captivity. This snake is not a short-term commitment as a pet, which means it won’t be an appropriate pet for everyone. If you’re considering purchasing a Dumeril’s Boa, you need to think about the fact that the snake will live just as long as a dog or cat would if it’s well-cared-for.
So expect to care for the Dumeril’s boa for a good amount of time. With proper care, a Dumeril’s boa could even live much longer than 20 years.
Dumeril’s Boa Temperament
The temperament of the Dumeril’s Boa is one of its qualities that makes it a popular boa as a pet. Many of these snakes have a calm, laid-back personality that makes them calm and docile pets, especially if they are handled regularly from a young age. Dumeril’s boas are of my top picks when it comes to boas and pythons. In fact, they rank #9 on my list of top pythons and boas as pets.
However, some Dumeril’s Boas may be a more shy or fearful snake. When these snakes don’t want to be handled they don’t tend to bite people. Instead, these snakes will try to get away and engage in other avoidant behavior if they’re afraid of being touched.
Handling the Dumeril’s Boa
Handling a Dumeril’s Boa is an important part of learning how to care for this boa properly. Improper handling can cause the boa to become stressed and can sometimes even lead to the person handling the snake being bitten. While the Dumeril’s Boa is a gentle species of snake, all reptiles can lash out aggressively if they feel threatened.
These are some general guidelines for handling a Dumeril’s Boa
- Wash your hands. Washing your hands before and after handling your boa can help keep you safe from snake borne bacteria such as salmonella that can make you sick. Washing your hands before handling also helps your hands to have a neutral scent and can prevent your snake from accidentally striking at them.
- Don’t handle your snake while they are shedding or eating. During these activities, snakes can become more agitated than usual. Snakes that are eating may strike because their predation instincts have been activated by food, while snakes that are shedding may feel vulnerable and lash out in defense.
- Hook train your snake. Hook training can help teach your snake between when you’re opening their enclosure for feeding and when you’re opening their enclosure to handle them. This involves moving your snake with the hook before grabbing them each time to teach them when to anticipate handling versus feeding.
- Handle your snake often. Handling your snake often and gently can help them get used to your presence and can make them naturally more relaxed around you when you take them out of their enclosure. Even shy snakes can be gradually trained to be more receptive to handling as long as you move slowly and calmly.
If you want a boa that can tolerate being handled, the Dumeril’s Boa is a good choice. Its low aggression levels make it a good option for snake keepers who don’t have as much experience dealing with large constrictors.
Dumeril’s Boa Diet
Dumeril’s Boa can be fed a few different food items in captivity depending on its size. Juvenile boas should be fed pinky mice and small mice until they get larger. Adult Dumeril’s Boas can be fed full-sized rats or other large prey such as rabbits, quail, or chickens. Of course, you will want to make sure that they are appropriately sized. Do not feed a boa food that is larger than the thickest part of their body.
Keep in mind that during feeding, the Dumeril’s Boa is shy and doesn’t like to be disturbed. It may be a good idea to cover up the boa’s enclosure or leave the room once it’s been fed so that it can eat in peace.
Dumeril’s boas should be fed pre-killed and thawed prey. Boas should not be fed frozen prey because this can damage them internally and drop their temperature dangerously low. Boas should also not be fed live captive prey because many prey animals are capable of doing damage to the boa in self-defense.
When feeding the Dumeril’s Boa, it’s a good idea to offer the boa food on tweezers or feeding tongs rather than placing the prey in the enclosure with your bare hands. This will help teach the snake how to tell the difference between when you’re opening the enclosure to handle it versus when you’re opening the enclosure to feed it.
Snakes also don’t have the best vision, so feeding tongs help reduce the risk of the snake getting excited and accidentally striking your hand while food is being offered.
The younger a Dumeril’s Boa is, the more often it will need to be fed. Newborn and very young Dumeril’s Boas under three inches should be fed roughly every 7-10 days. Juvenile Dumeril’s Boas should be fed every 12-20 days. Adult Dumeril’s Boas that are no longer growing should be fed every 18-28 days.
A Dumeril’s Boa uses water sources in its enclosure for both drinking and soaking. Dumeril’s Boas drink a relatively large amount of water compared to other captive reptiles, so fresh clean non-chlorinated water should be offered daily.
Vitamins and Supplements
Always talk to your vet before supplementing your Dumeril’s boa’s diet. Many feel that supplementation is unnecessary for pet snakes when fed a proper diet. Because a Dumeril’s Boa in captivity has a somewhat limited diet compared to its diet in the wild, it may end up developing nutritional deficiencies over time without some kind of vitamin supplement to its diet. Some snake owners will feed their boa a full-spectrum reptile vitamin and occasionally dust prey with a calcium supplement.
Calcium supplements come in two major forms – with or without vitamin D3. Snakes who are raised without UVB lighting might need D3 added to their diet, while snakes who are exposed to UVB lighting will generate D3 on their own.
Dumeril’s Boa Enclosure Size
Along with receiving the correct handling and nutrition, the Dumeril’s Boa also has specific needs for its enclosure requirements in order to thrive. Since these snakes can reach 6 feet long, I would prefer to purchase or build them an enclosure that is at least six feet long, four feet wide, and about two feet tall. Though many would say they can fit in smaller enclosures, this is the minimum size I would house an adult Dumeril’s boa in.
Since Dumeril’s Boas are terrestrial or ground-dwelling snakes, this means that their enclosure doesn’t have to be tall so much as it needs length and width. It should be large enough for them to comfortably move around in as they move around on the floor. It also means that you don’t have to bother putting in any branches or other horizontal elements since the snake won’t use them.
Best Dumeril’s Boa Substrate
The substrate for a Dumeril’s Boa doesn’t have to be complicated. That said, I would choose a substrate that should help promote the proper humidity levels. Cypress mulch that is specifically designed for snakes is often recommended for the Dumeril’s boa. A good example would be Zoo Med Forest Floor Cypress Mulch.
Decor is something that is necessary to put in the enclosure of any captive animal to improve its quality of life. Even after a boa constrictor begins to put on size, it still likes having things in its enclosure to explore for enrichment purposes.
Here are a few good examples of decorations you can use with a Dumeril’s Boa:
- Hides: Smaller boas in particular will appreciate having a hide to rest in because young snakes feel vulnerable to predators. If you have a boa that is shy or fearful, adding to the number of hides in the enclosure can actually have the effect of making your snake more secure and less shy.
- Climbing vines and branches: While adult boas won’t spend as much time climbing around, juvenile boas are semi-arboreal and will happily take advantage of any artificial vines or branches you place in their enclosure for them to climb around on. Be sure to choose branches and vines without sharp edges to prevent damage to your snake.
- Live plants: Live plants are a great way for you to give your snake something to rub against to aid them when it’s time for them to shed. Live plants also help improve the ambient humidity in an enclosure and make sure it remains stable. Just make sure that the plants you choose are safe for your snake before adding them to the enclosure.
- Artificial plants: Larger Dumeril’s Boas often do better with artificial plants than live plants. While live plants will help with humidity, they will often get smashed by the snake’s movements around the enclosure throughout the day as the snake gets larger and heavier.
Keep in mind when you clean your snake’s enclosure, all decor that you place in the enclosure will have to be cleaned and sanitized too. Try to strike a good balance between adding enough decor to enrich the snake’s environment without making the enclosure cluttered. Also keep an eye out for any potential decor items that could hurt the snake as it moves around.
Dumeril’s Boa Temperature and Humidity Requirments
Dumeril’s Boa is a snake from a tropical rainforest environment, and because of this it does require supplemental heat and humidity in order to thrive. Along with being offered a fresh bowl of water large enough to bathe in, the humidity in the tank should be monitored and kept at a humidity level of around 40-60% using a hydrometer.
If the humidity of the enclosure drops below 40%, this can lead to health problems and difficulties with shedding. To maintain a proper humidity, the boa’s enclosure can be misted periodically with a spray bottle to help raise the humidity. Live plants in the enclosure can also help keep the humidity stable.
Average temperatures in the enclosure should be kept around 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature in the enclosure can be dropped to around 70-75 degrees at night when the light is turned off in the enclosure. Like all animals, Dumeril’s Boas require a day-night cycle for optimal health. One of the reasons I prefer a larger enclosure size is because I recommend having a warmer and cooler side to the enclosure.
You should provide a basking spot on the warmer side of the enclosure that reaches temperatures above 90 degrees. However, you also want to make sure that the cooler side of the enclosure is a bit cooler than the warmer side. This way your boa can choose where he wants to be during the day.
Do Boas Need UVB Lighting?
Many often wonder if boas need UVB lighting like other reptiles. One benefit of Dumeril’s Boa over other reptiles that are commonly kept by hobbyists is that it doesn’t have to have specialized lighting like some more sensitive reptiles. A light can be used to make the boa easier to see in its enclosure, but it isn’t required. As long as they have a supplement for vitamin D3 and a proper diet, Dumeril’s boa does just fine in natural ambient lighting indoors.
If you do put a light system in your Dumeril’s Boa enclosure, keep in mind that the lights will need to be turned off at night and turned back on during the day. Like other animals, boas can become stressed if they aren’t given a period of darkness to simulate night. Dumeril’s Boa is a nocturnal hunter, and your snake may become much more active in darkness as a result.
Dumeril’s Boa Care Is Recommended For Intermediate Reptile Owners
While the Dumeril Boa’s small size and lenient maintenance requirements make it an easier constrictor to keep than many of the larger boa species, the Dumeril’s Boa still isn’t a great snake for a first-time snake keeper or smaller child ( You Can Find My Top Pick For Beginners and Kids Here ). The size requirements of its enclosure and its long life in captivity make it a major investment in time, resources, and responsibility.
However, if you have the space and the time to dedicate to one of these beautiful animals, you’ll find that they’re one of the most attractive and docile boas in captivity.A proper understanding of Dumeril’s boa care is essential for keeping these snakes happy and healthy.