Snakes are an intriguing pet that many are interested in owning. Kenyan Sand Boas are a popular choice for those interested in keeping a snake as a pet. Snakes, and reptiles in general, are not always easy to keep. That said, these particular snakes are one of the easiest reptiles to keep. Hopefully, this Kenyan sand boa care guide will help you determine if they are the right choice for you!
Kenyan Sand Boas require similar care to other constrictors. They need a hot and cool habitat for temperature regulation, a healthy diet, and proper handling to ensure they are happy and healthy. Snakes, such as the Kenyan Sand Boa, are not pets you can just set down and forget.
That said, the Kenyan sand boa is one of my top picks for reptile keepers of all levels. Due to thier size, they are also a good choice for kids of appropriate age. In fact, they are my number 6 pick of best snakes for kids and beginners. This is because they are big enough to not get easily crushed but still small enough to not be as much of a threat.
To properly care for a Kenyan Sand Boa, it is essential to follow the necessary procedures. As you will see, there will be many factors to pay attention to. If any of these procedures are not followed diligently it can make for an unhappy and unhealthy pet. If you apply the right methods and proper equipment, then owning a Kenyan Sand Boa will likely not be too difficult. Keep reading to learn how to care for a Kenyan Sand Boa.
Kenyan Sand Boa Size and Appearance
Kenyan Sand Boas are among the smallest of constrictors you can choose as a pet. Their size makes them attractive for beginners interested in owning a snake. Thier size simply makes Kenyan sand boa care a bit less intimidating.
Kenyan Sand Boas also have a unique appearance that distinguishes them. In general, Kenyan Sand Boas will have the following specs for size and appearance:
- Kenyan Sand Boas usually reach up to 2 feet in length. Females can grow up to 30 inches, while males tend to grow only 15-20 inches
- Kenyan Sand Boas are typically yellow or orange, with dark blotches across its back and sides
- Their bodies are hardy and stout, making them tough for their size
- There are various morphs of Kenyan Sand Boas, at least 10 known so far
The size and appearance of Kenyan Sand Boas are distinct. These snakes are fairly small, with recognizable color patterns. This does not mean they all look exactly the same, however. You may be curious as to the challenges that may come with its size and appearance, however.
The devil is always in the details. Snakes, especially, require special care in order to be healthy and happy. This is no different with Kenyan Sand Boas. These snakes do possess outstanding qualities in terms of size and can be recognized once you know their appearances.
Sand Boa Size and Coloration
As mentioned, Kenyan Sand Boas have distinct sizes and appearances. Their size will not exceed much more than 2 feet in length. Females grow larger than males. The largest male will only grow up to 20 inches, the average being 15.
Kenyan Sand Boas have a unique look about them. Most Kenyan Sand Boas, as mentioned, will be yellow or orange with dark blotches spread about. There are different morphs (breeds) of this snake, however. The two most popular morphs are:
The more popular a morph is, the more expensive it will be. The two morphs listed above can range anywhere from $500-$1,500. This is a trend typical in commercial snake breeding. The most popular morphs will have higher prices attached.
When considering a Kenyan Sand Boa as a pet, take these factors into consideration when looking. If you know what to spot beforehand, it will make finding and choosing a Kenyan Sand Boa easier.
Kenyan Sand Boa Lifespan
Snakes in general have a longer lifespan compared to most house pets. This is no different for Kenyan Sand Boas. Many snakes (especially constrictors) can live for decades.
- Kenyan Sand Boas live on average for 15-20 years
- Some Kenyan Sand Boas have been known to exceed 30 years
It is important to understand that caring for a Kenyan Sand Boa is a long-term commitment. Proper Kenyan sand boa care is the number one thing you can control to help ensure the longest lifespan possible.
Unlike dogs or cats, reptiles like snakes can live for longer periods of time. A longer lifespan means more commitment in terms of time and care. This is important to take into account when considering a Kenyan Sand Boa as a pet.
Why Do Kenyan Sand Boas Have a Long Lifespan?
As mentioned, snakes, in general, have long lifespans compared to standard house pets like dogs or cats. A Ball Python, for example, can live between 25-40 years. This is primarily due to the following:
- Snakes are cold-blooded, therefore their metabolism moves much slower than mammals (which are warm-blooded)
- Cold-blooded animals with slow metabolisms age at a much slower rate than warm-blooded animals with fast metabolisms
Due to the relatively long lifespan of snakes like the Kenyan Sand Boa, potential owners need to be aware that owning one is a long-term commitment. Be prepared for at least 15-20 years of care and up to 30 plus years on occasion when owning a Kenyan Sand Boa. Thier long lifespan is one of their greatest and yet most intimidating qualities for potential owners.
Kenyan Sand Boa Temperament
Kenyan Sand Boas are considered among the better tempered of constrictors. They have distinct behavioral patterns associated with their hunting schedules. In general, Kenyan Sand Boas possess the following temperament and behavioral patterns:
- Kenyan Sand Boas are mild-mannered, though are very active
- Some Kenyan Sand Boas can be a bit nippy but not usually out of aggression
- Kenyan Sand Boas are solitary animals, except when breeding
- Kenyan Sand Boas are docile burrowers that will dig and hide when they feel threatened
Certain snakes will have specific temperaments and behavioral patterns. This is usually influenced by hunting tactics and environmental conditions. For Kenyan Sand Boas, their docile nature is also influenced by these factors.
These behavioral patterns are pretty common across the board with Kenyan Sand Boas. Now and then, you may encounter one that deviates from these patterns, though this is typical of any animal species. Generalities do not transfer to every individual within a given species.
There are other temperament and behavioral factors to understand for Kenyan Sand Boas. For instance, Kenyan sand boas are active during particular times of day, which influences how they behave. Kenyan Sand Boas are primarily nocturnal, yet also have hunting periods during dawn hours.
Kenyan Sand Boa Handling
For the most part, Kenyan Sand Boas are docile and fun to handle. They generally do not mind being held. In fact, they are among the easiest of pet snakes to handle. You may wonder when it is appropriate to handle a Kenyan Sand Boa. Handling a Kenyan Sand Boa can be broken down easily:
- If you notice your sand boa surfaced in their enclosure (not hiding) then they are likely calm and will allow you to pick it up
- If you are wary of handling the snake with your hands, there are hooks available for use to pick the snake up without worry
- Handle your sand boa once a day over a period of a few weeks to get it adjusted to being held
As mentioned, Kenyan Sand Boas are mostly docile. There are exceptions to this, however. Kenyan Sand Boas will get defensive in certain instances. While mostly docile, the snakes will strike out at perceived threats if in distress.
Is a Kenyan Sand Boa Ever Aggressive?
For the most part, Kenyan Sand Boas are not aggressive. There are specific instances when they can get defensive and strike, however. Be wary of the following when trying to handle a Kenyan Sand Boa:
- Keep your hands away from the entrance to the sand boa’s burrow
- Kenyan Sand Boas have specific defense responses, one of them is protecting the entrance to its burrow
- If you reach your hand too close to the burrow entrance, it may trigger the snake’s defense response and will strike
As mentioned, it is best to handle your Kenyan Sand Boa once a day for a few weeks so it can adjust to human contact (if it has not already). As long as you give the snake regular contact and be wary of approaching its burrows, it is unlikely it will ever bite you.
Kenyan Sand Boa Diet
Snakes such as Kenyan Sand Boas have very specific diets. Unfortunately, there is no kibble and bits for boas. Snakes like Kenyan Sand Boas have to be fed the right diet. The food generally eaten by Kenyan Sand Boas are smaller rodents.
- Juvenile Kenyan Sand Boas have a harder time with frozen-thawed rodents.
- Pinky mice (live) are the best for juvenile Kenyan Sand Boas
- Once they have matured, Kenyan Sand Boas will gravitate toward frozen-thawed mice
- Make sure you have a feeder mouse or rodent specifically to the boa you have. Snakes will reject a meal that is too big for them
Mice and rats are the primary foods available for pet snakes like Kenyan Sand Boas. Pay attention to the size of your boa, as that will affect the size of food they need. As mentioned, if their prey is too big, they will not attempt to eat it. Aim for food no larger than the widest part of thier body.
It is important to understand the specific diets of these snakes. It is not just a matter of what they eat, but how they need to eat it. For some boas, they may only eat live. This depends on the snake, yet potential owners need to prepare for that possibility.
Kenyan Sand Boa Feeding
Feeding a Kenyan Sand Boa has a specific process to it. The most popular avenue of feeding pet snakes is frozen-thawed mice or rats. When feeding a Kenyan Sand Boa with frozen-thawed prey, take the following steps into account:
- Make sure your frozen mouse/rat is a certain size. If the prey item is too big, the snake will not eat it
- Bag and thaw out the mouse/rat in your fridge overnight. Do not leave the mouse/rat on your counter overnight or it will start to decompose and the snake will reject it then
- After it has thawed, place the bagged mouse/rat in warm water until its internal temperature reaches at least 98 degrees. Snakes recognize their prey by body heat signature
- Use a pair of tongs to dangle the mouse/rat in front of the snake, trying to mimic as much movement as possible
- When the snake strikes out, try to hold the prey for a moment to simulate a struggle
Feeding schedules for Kenyan Sand Boas are straightforward. An adult boa should only be fed every 10-14 on average. Juveniles should be fed around once a week. Try to maintain a regular feeding pattern for the snake.
Kenyan Sand Boas are constrictors which means they kill their prey by constriction. Even if their prey item is already dead, they will still wrap around it, as it is their natural instinct. You want to try to simulate the feeding in a way that allows its natural instincts to come out.
Should I Feed My Kenyan Sand Boa Live Prey?
Kenyan Sand Boas do not necessarily have to eat live. There are actually risks to the snake during live feeding. If you are feeding your boa live, it is good to keep the following in mind:
- Live feeding brings a risk of the prey item harming your boa to defend itself. Snakes have been known to receive serious injuries from live feedings, as mice and rats have sharp teeth and claws they will use to defend themselves
- Snakes may not go after their prey right away. This puts the live prey item in a position of prolonged suffering and could potentially attack your snake as a defense mechanism
Live feeding should not be done by the squeamish. It is not a pretty sight, yet it is the natural process of how snakes like Kenyan Sand Boas eat. This is how they survive in the natural world. Live feeding can be done but is not recommended when you can avoid it.
Kenyan Sand Boa Watering
Snakes, like animals, need water to live. Kenyan Sand Boas, however, are often easy to care for in this regard. While they do need eventual access to water, Kenyan Sand Boas do not drink as much as other snakes. To keep water available for your boa, it is best to do the following:
- Place a heavy dish in the center of its enclosure. The dish must be heavy enough for the snake to not tip over
- The dish needs to be fairly big and not too deep. The water needs to be close enough for the snake to have quick access
- Snakes will occasionally sit in their water to cool off when overheated so make sure they can easily enter and exit thier watering dish
Watering is the least complicated factor in keeping a Kenyan Sand Boa. As mentioned, they do not drink very often. They primarily live in arid environments of East Africa, where water is not always available. They will need to drink eventually, yet they do not need to hydrate very often. That said, you still need to make sure they have fresh non-chlorinated water daily.
Do Kenyan Sand Boas Need Vitamins and Supplements?
Kenyan Sand Boas do not typically need vitamins or supplements to stay healthy. There are vitamins and supplements available, however, for those interested in giving their snake an extra boost. That said, it is probably not needed and you should always consult with your veterinarian before implementing a supplement to your Kenyan sand boa.
A popular supplement that can be given to Kenyan Sand Boas is Repashy Calcium Plus LoD. This helps prevent any deficiencies the snake may have with nutrition. It utilizes an “all-in-one” method of helping your sand boa have healthier nutrition.
- Apply the supplement to prey items during feeding (preferably frozen-thawed)
- Only apply every so often during feeding periods
This supplement is also useful for the health of other reptiles. It can be utilized for pet lizards as well, for example. This supplement may not be necessary as long as your boa has good nutrition.
Kenyan Sand Boa Enclosure Requirements
Choosing the right enclosure is a very important part of Kenyan sand boa care. Kenyan Sand Boas are among the smallest of constrictor species. Therefore, their enclosure requirements are not too big in nature. There are certain specifications of enclosure that you need for a Kenyan Sand Boa, however.
- Adult Kenyan Sand Boas can live in basic 20-gallon reptile enclosures
- Reptile enclosures have to be made of plexiglass or plastic with a vented lid and latch opening
- The lid needs to be secure as they are pretty good escape artist.
- Larger enclosures should be used if possible, as the more space the better
While a Kenyan Sand Boa can make do with a 20-gallon tank, they would not mind if you upgraded them to a 30 or 40-gallon tank either. Kenyan Sand Boas may not be active too much, yet they can grow uncomfortable in smaller enclosures.
Another factor to keep in mind is these enclosures must be designed specifically for reptiles. Reptiles need a specific enclosure to work with the other elements that come with it.
Why Do Kenyan Sand Boas Need this Enclosure?
Snakes in general need specific enclosures suited for reptiles. Do not purchase an enclosure designed for animals other than reptiles. They need these enclosures due to the following factors:
- They need to be escape-proof
- Hold Proper Temperature & Humidity
These specific factors come together in making a comfortable habitat for a pet snake. If any of these factors are not in sync with each other, then the snake can grow uncomfortable and unhealthy.
Best Substrate For Kenyan Sand Boas
Substrate is the bedding material you place at the bottom of an enclosure. Choosing the right substrate is an important aspect of Kenyan sand boa care. You may hear the “sand” part in the Kenyan Sand Boa and think that is the only substrate best for them. Kenyan Sand Boas are actually pretty versatile in the types of substrate they can live with. In fact, I would actually not even recommend using sand myself.
Kenyan sand boas do well with the following substrates:
- Sand Soil Mix ( make sure to purchase a soil made for snake substrate )
- T-Rex Sani Chips
As mentioned, Kenyan Sand Boas are burrowers. The most important aspect of the substrate is for them to burrow and hide in. So choose a safe substrate that they can burrow in.
Kenyan Sand Boas are burrowers, therefore they spend most of their time hiding. Even though their instinct is to burrow in sand or soil, there are some decorations that can be incorporated into its habitat. Consider purchasing the following additions for the snake’s enclosure:
- Small bits of wood or cork bark
- Decorative branch
- Small succulent plants
Do not place heavy wood or stone items in a Kenyan Sand Boa’s enclosure. This is largely due to the snake’s burrowing. The boa can get caught and injured under heavy wood or stone while burrowing.
If you incorporate any rock in the boa’s enclosure, make sure it is not too heavy and (if possible) attached to the bottom of the tank. There is an important reason for keeping some extra decor in the snake’s enclosure.
Kenyan Sand Boas shed on average about 1-2 months every year. A healthy skin shed for snakes will be all at once, rather than bits and pieces. To ensure a single clean shed, objects in the tank can help them shed their skin easier.
An irregular shedding pattern can be helped by giving the snake a bath, though this is not always recommended. It is important to try to get your Kenyan Sand Boa to shed in one clean process.
Healthy shedding is determined by other factors as well. Temperature and humidity, for example, also play a role in a healthy shed. As an added help to the process, consider having some fixed decor in the enclosure. A snake that does not shed in one clean sweep may have health issues or in distress.
Kenyan Sand Boa Temperature and Humidity
Temperature and humidity can be one of the hardest aspects of Kenyan sand boa care. Certain snakes require specific temperature and humidity conditions. This is primarily due to snakes being cold-blooded. Cold-blooded animals cannot internally regulate their body temperature.
To keep a Kenyan Sand Boa happy and healthy, consider keeping it in the following conditions:
- Keep a Hot & Cooler side to the enclosure. The hot side will be regulated by a heat lamp and/or a heat pad, while the cool side remains unheated
- Keep the ambient temperature should be around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit
- Have a basking spot on the warm side that reaches temperatures of around 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit
- Temperatures can drop to the low 70’s at night
- Keep a thermometer or thermostat handy to check the temperature of the enclosure daily
- Humidifiers can be used to regulate humidity, yet are not necessarily needed
Another important aspect of temperature and humidity is the boa’s shedding process. Kenyan Sand Boas shed once every month or two, and they require certain humidity levels for a single clean shed. Without proper temperature and humidity, the shed will come in pieces.
Keep the factors of body temperature and shedding into account here. They are the most important reasons why the enclosure must be kept at certain temperatures and humidity levels.
Kenyan Sand Boa Lighting
Kenyan Sand Boas are mainly nocturnal, which means they do not necessarily need too much special lighting equipment. A standard heating lamp can do just fine for most Kenyan Sand Boas.
While Kenyan Sand Boas do not require UVB or UVA lighting, some still recommend you get those lighting units, anyway. They will not hurt your snake in any way. In fact, UVB and UVA lighting add extra benefits.
- UVB lighting provides a full amount of Vitamin D, healthy for a snake’s skin
- UVB & UVA lighting also helps with increasing appetite, making for a more healthy and energetic snake
- Use a low-power UVB light for a Kenyan Sand Boa, usually placed on the same side as a standard heat lamp
Having proper lighting equipment is essential for the care of Kenyan Sand Boa. This equipment must be checked regularly to ensure decent function.
Kenyan Sand Boa care is pretty simple compared to many other reptiles you can care for. They are one of my top picks when it comes to boas or pythons. Taking care of them is not too complicated, yet does require certain elements to be happy and healthy. As long as you encompass the necessary elements and items given here, you will do just fine with your snake. Keep in mind that owning a Kenyan Sand Boa is a long-term commitment.
Properly caring for a Kenyan Sand Boa requires special enclosures, equipment, feeding rituals, and more. These snakes can also live up to 30 years. If you are interested in a docile snake and ready for the commitment, then caring for a Kenyan Sand Boa might be the right choice for you!