There has been a big debate in the world of reptiles for some time. Which is the red-tailed boa vs the ball python and which one is the best pet snake? If you are looking to get a snake, you may be overwhelmed with choices. Deciding between ones, such as a ball python or red-tailed boa, can be tricky. There are pros and cons for both which makes it difficult to decide, but there is definitely one that might be better for you.
Though this isn’t a competition for which snake is better, ball pythons are certainly easier to handle which makes them great for beginners. They are smaller and cheaper than red-tailed boas. But, red-tailed boas are also great snakes with a large community that prefers them.
No matter which snake someone has, they are certainly in for some fun. There are so many things that will catch your eye with both snakes, but you’ll also see some things that will have you taking a step back. To learn more about both snakes, keep reading!
Choosing Between a Red-Tailed Boa and a Ball Python
Though neither is better than the other by definition, everyone has their preferences. If you want a calm snake, a ball python would be better for you. They are one of the top picks for beginners. A red-tailed boa would be better for someone who wants to handle a more active snake.
Both of these snakes will be a lot of fun to handle. In fact, Clint’s Reptiles is a YouTube channel in which Clint talks about snakes, and he loves both. While he prefers and does have more ball pythons, he’d rather have one red-tailed boa if he could only have one snake. He also has a video on each snake which is easily accessible through the above-linked video.
Ball pythons tend to be easier to handle. You will most likely have less of an urge to keep an eye on a ball python as they don’t attack often. They are also easy to read, so if they get aggravated or hungry, you will know. But, ball pythons can be more difficult to care for, so make sure that you do as much research as you can before choosing a pet snake.
Red-tailed boas are great snakes as well, and while they aren’t as difficult to care for, the handling can be a little difficult sometimes. You should definitely be present if there is a child handling or if it is someone that the snake isn’t familiar with.
Red-Tailed Boa: Pros and Cons
When you think of a red-tailed boa or a boa constrictor, the first thought that comes to your mind is their large and heavy body. That is what they are known for. Red-tailed boas typically reach lengths of 2-3 meters long. This is quite a bit larger than a ball python.
In fact, many people consider them just larger and heavier ball pythons. Of course, one is python and one is a boa so obviously, this is not to be taken literally.
They are very active animals with detectable personalities. This can be a con if you are a beginner, though, since it can be a little challenging to handle a snake that wants to move around constantly. If you have never owned a snake a ball python is usually recommended over a red-tailed boa. But this does not always have to be the case.
One of my favorite things about red-tailed boas is that they are such beautiful snakes. They have naturally beautiful coloration and just look awesome. In my opinion, the typical red-tailed boa is a much more attractive-looking snake than your typical ball python. There are some exceptions as there are certainly some amazing-looking ball python morphs.
Red-Tailed Boas love to eat, so they shouldn’t have issues eating all of their food. That ties into one of the cons though which is the cost of caring and feeding your snake over time.
Since red-tailed boas eat more, you will have to buy larger feeders which are more expensive. It evens out though because you won’t need to buy as many since they are larger. The main upfront expense will be housing for the snake. Since red-tailed boas are larger, you will have to buy a larger, more expensive enclosure.
The last con, which might be a deal-breaker for some, is their tendency to be a bit more aggressive than ball pythons. Before you jump to conclusions, they are not extremely aggressive, but some are more likely to bite. They are harder to read than ball pythons so you would be less likely to predict a bite, and the bites hurt more since they have larger mouths and teeth.
Ball Python: Pros and Cons
Compared to red-tailed boas, ball pythons are both smaller and lighter, which makes them much easier to handle. They are also much calmer and won’t wander as much, which is a pro for beginners. However, if you want a more active snake, you may want to consider a red-tailed boa.
With that said, every snake does have their own personality so you can most certainly find a red-tailed boa or ball python that doesn’t match these pros and cons. This is just a generalization, and you will need to meet the snake to get a feel of the kind of snake it is.
The smaller size of the ball python makes them slightly more inexpensive. You can still spend a lot of money on a ball python, but their size means you won’t have to buy an enclosure as big as the one you’d need for a red-tailed boa.
You’ll need smaller feeders for ball pythons which is good, but you may still run into a few issues since they are inconsistent feeders. They can go months without eating which will lead to wasting food unless you have other snakes to give it to. A red-tailed boa would certainly love it.
They can also be difficult to care for. The humidity can affect how they shed, and you’ll need to change the humidity in their enclosure if you see that they aren’t shedding completely.
You should keep your snake’s enclosure around 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit on the cool side, 80-85 on the warmer side, and provide a basking area with heats that range from 88-92 degrees. If you use something like heating tape or a heating pad, it’s important to keep a thermometer on the enclosure because heating devices like that can malfunction and get too hot or too cold.
Can I Keep a Red-Tailed Boa with a Ball Python?
The simple answer is no, you should not mix these two snakes. Snakes are solitary animals so they like to be housed alone. All snakes, regardless if they are the same breed, prefer to have their own enclosure.
With this said, you can have both snakes at the same time, but there are some things you should keep in mind when doing so. For starters, there are some diseases that are communicable between the two snakes, and ball pythons tend to have a more severe reaction to respiratory diseases.
If you bring a red-tailed boa into your collection that carries any of these diseases, all of your ball pythons could die. That’s why you should at least quarantine your red-tailed boa for the first year. They can endure these diseases much better than ball pythons so they just have to heal.
Once your red-tailed boa is healthy, it is still important to keep them separate in terms of housing, but they can be around each other. Referring back to Clint’s YouTube video, he is not only holding a ball python and red-tailed boa together but he also says that they do shows together all the time. You should keep some separation between the snakes and make sure you handle this properly.
They should also never be together when being fed. Red-tailed boas are very aggressive with food so if they are together while being fed, the red-tailed boa could kill the ball python. You should also make sure that you can handle owning multiple pet snakes. Get one pet snake first to make sure you can handle just one first. In conclusion, keep the snakes completely separate for a year, and never house or feed them together.
Are There Any Other Smaller Sized Boas?
If you’d prefer a boa, but you don’t want to deal with a larger snake, you are in luck. There is actually a smaller pet snake in the form of a rosy boa. Rosy boas are similar to ball pythons in the sense that they are considered big snakes in a small package.
While red-tailed boas can get up to 12 to 14 feet, rosy boas average at about 24-30 inches. That is much smaller than red-tailed boas. However, they are still heavy-built for their size. The size of a rosy boa makes it more inexpensive than its cousin, a red-tailed boa. Of course, housing and other costs will probably be much lower in the long term.
While rosy boas are fairly calm, you should treat it with care and never restrict it while handling. This can cause it to feel uncomfortable and try escaping your grasp. But all in all, I think that Rosy boas are one of the best pet snakes you can buy. That said, I would also say the same thing about ball pythons and red-tailed boas.
Ball Python Vs Boa: Choosing the Right Snake for You
It is important to know what you want in a snake before you purchase one. If you are looking for a snake to handle as a beginner, a red-tailed boa might not be the right choice to start. When looking, be very specific with your ability and needs and do as much research as possible before jumping in.
For most people, I would probably suggest going with a ball python. This is especially true if you are a first-time snake owner. That said, I do know people who purchased a red-tailed boa as their first snake and could not be happier about it. Just measure out the pros and cons and make sure you are capable of handling whatever pet you choose.