Emotional Support Boa Info/Help


I apologize for the very impromptu post. My name’s Gabe, I joined MorphMarket /the forum near late last year, and I’ve been a newbie lurker who’d planned to make his intro post once he received his boa.

I live in Texas and I plan to move into an apartment complex sometime late spring/summer, and after settling in, having my boa shipped to me. However, I’ve been encountering numerous apartment complexes that do not accept snakes.

I have been considering the option of obtaining an Emotional Support Animal (ESA) housing letter to allow me to have my boa as I have anxiety and the tactile sensation of holding snakes calms me down, and simply spending time with them helps me out just as any dog would.

In Texas, from what I’ve researched so far, the laws regarding ESAs/Fair Housing have stated that reptiles are excluded from being considered as ESA’s since they’re “non-domestic.”

I was wondering if anyone knew if it was still worth obtaining the ESA letter, even if the recommendation is for an animal that is considered non-domestic? I have a therapist I’ve been seeing for about six months and counting who is qualified to write it, I’m just more concerned that the fine print will make the letter completely void to any apartment complexes I apply to.

Thank you so much for any feedback/help in advance!


From here

It’s 3am and I’m a little incoherent, but I did some digging and found this. I would assume that since you are actively working with the therapist who will be writing your ESA letter, it would be acceptable.
My cat was (technically still is, just no longer “prescribed” to me) my ESA back while I was in a uni dorm in 2016, and I researched the laws heavily at the time. I don’t remember anything specifically about excluding non-domestic animals, but it has been a few years and my memory could be off or things have changed.

Hopefully you can find a good apartment that won’t give you grief over your future boa!


Hello Gabe :wave:

As someone who also lives in Texas and actually has a service animal I will tell you right now - it doesn’t matter if you obtain a paid ESA letter an apartment complex will still not allow a boa. It’s an exempt animal for a reason. HOWEVER, words of the wise have always said “do not ask, do not tell”.

I never once told my apartment/rental housing company that I had snakes or bred rats for that very reason.


Just make sure it doesn’t bark when you aren’t home and nobody will know!


Hi Gabe! Welcome to the forum!

As @akmorphs said. There is a reason boas are not allowed in apartment complexes in Texas. I do not know the exact reason but I can think of one or two. If the lease says “no boas” and you sign it, it becomes a good faith legal binding contract. Remember it goes both ways. You agree to “no boas” and they agree to provide maintenance etc. You would not like it if they tried to back out on fixing your heat……

That that being said and if it were me, I would find a few places I was interested in and then ask up front if an ESA letter would be accepted BEFORE I paid for one. If the answer is “no”, then I would either rethink my need/want for a boa or opt for other types of living arrangements. It sounds like you have already purchased the boa? If so you might need to go ahead with the second option.

Best wishes to you and your future! :blush:


@hellfire_exotics @caron @akmorphs
Thank you all so much and @themorphranch haha I reallly needed that laugh as well.

My family has suggested to me a couple of times the “don’t ask don’t tell,” but I do fear policy/contract breaking a fair amount as well. There are a couple of other complexes ive reached out to asking about ESA documentation and have received varying answers, some saying they require documentation from my medical provider, others saying they need an authenticity certificate from a company/service for ESAs and not a doctor’s note.

I’ll be doing a consultation call with a LCSW who’s had experience writing letters for reptiles and ask questions/discuss concerns and decide my course of action from there.

Again, thanks so much for help; I really appreciate it and hopefully my proper post to this lovely community will be a lot less hectic.


I’m going to be blunt here, you should not pursue an ESA designation for your boa unless you truly, 100% need it to cope with your anxiety. From the tone of your post, it sounds more like you want to work around apartment rules against snakes, and that’s not what ESA letters are for.

If you haven’t already gotten the boa, I suggest not doing so until you’ve found a place to live that will allow it without an ESA letter, because there’s every chance that an apartment is not a long term situation and just because one complex allowed an ESA does not mean the next will. They’re allowed to take into consideration the specific animal, and since a boa is never going to be risk-free, you’ll still likely face denials. I’m not trying to be mean, but realistically both ESAs and boas already have tenuous reputations in the public eye.


Yes @noodlehaus I wholeheartedly agree with this response actually. @g4br13l Gabe If this boa is absolutely necessary for you to have quality of life then go for it. Otherwise you may have to settle for the “lease allowance” regarding live animals.

@noodlehaus Well stated! :blush:


@caron thank you. Also @g4br13l I’m sorry if it seemed like I was downplaying your diagnosis in any way. I fully believe snakes can be great ESAs for those who need it, something like a boa is especially well suited for deep pressure therapy. I just worry that at some point, a landlord may decide your animal is a liability, and unfortunately with a non-companion, you won’t have as much overall support.

Also just a warning, if any landlord decides to Google, “ESA boa”, the first thing they’re going to see is the story of Bartholomew, the ESA boa whose owner tried to bring them with on a flight in January.


Hi @noodlehaus I just wanted to reply to you first and tell you oh no you didn’t sound downplaying or rude to me at all. It honestly sounded like you were — as you said — looking out for me and being upfront. I really appreciated it and thank you for being so civil with me too.

It is true I am trying to find a means to have my boa accompany me in the apartment, but yes my pursue for the letter it would be exactly for the reasons you mentioned regarding pressure therapy/tactile/companionship to deal with certain low-esteem thoughts and nothing else.

I really wasn’t fully informed of ESAs specifically other than the fraud that people try to pull off with it, and when hitting thjs roadblock and doing more research (to understand and see if I would even qualify or if this therapy would be helpful to me), I realized my boa would provide me a lot of benefits as especially my mental health hasn’t been well as of late, even with the techniques I’ve been using for a while with my therapist. I went undiagnosed for a long time until about two years ago, so a lot of my journey is still me figuring out what helps me, what triggers in my life affect me, etc.

I’m very sorry my post came off as fraudulent or trying to be exploitative to you and to anyone else as well, I hadn’t realized the way I had written it came off that way as I was just focused on obtaining information as soon as I could so I could plan what to do.

My long post aside, thank you and thank you too @caron for the help and upfront feedback as well.

I wasn’t sure if anyone wanted an update but I did find a complex that is compliant with ESA laws and is reptile friendly. They just wanted to ensure the reptile would be in a secure enclosure. I will be meeting with my LPC sometime next week and discussing all of this with her. I’ve had some time to think and upon reading posts, speaking with loved ones, I’m going to obtain a letter and just understand that yes it is very highly likely it will get rejected (should the apartment complex I found end up not working out).

P.S. to noodlehaus I am almost afraid to click that link. I had been learning about the kinds of animals people have tried to pull off at the TSA and the new laws that affected ESA’s and….yeah.


It sounds like you are earnest in your pursuit and for very valid reasons. I am glad you are making progress so quickly. To be honest I have struggled with mental health issues for years so I can sympathize with your situation. My go to treatment is medication but it is relaxing for me to take care of/feed/handle my reptiles as well. Thank you for taking the advice given to you with an open mind.

All the best!

Caron :heart:


@g4br13l Don’t worry too much about how you came off, I just wanted to make sure everything was on the up and up, and it’s very obvious by your replies that you are committed to doing things right!

So glad to hear you found a complex! I hope you and your therapist can get everything in order so you can have all the benefits a good ESA offers. Hopefully with more exposure to reptiles as ESAs, complexes will realise reptiles aren’t the problem people tend to assume they are. Animal therapy is something that can be helpful to so many people with a variety of mental health needs, I’d love to see the average person’s thinking change to accept more species can have purpose in that way.
Also, perhaps with the complex you’ve found, if/when you move, maybe you could ask them to be a reference or write a letter for future places? That way you’ve got some background to show you & your boa are model tenants.

As for the story, very thankfully it’s far more lighthearted than most ESA travel stories, and even TSA were quite playful about the incident. It’s actually worth a click for the x-ray alone.


Thank you so much :heart: and yes mental health is honestly a learning curve. There are past issues I am happy to have overcome or no longer have a debilitating hold on me and others that end up taking steps back and having to reconfigure, “Okay…how do I get myself out of this slump and get back into being okay again.”

I’m sorry you’ve had your struggles too but I am glad you’ve found meds that help and reptiles also help you as well.

You as well, thank you so much and hopefully see you around when I do a proper intro post that isn’t me scrambling for information lol.


Thank you, I’m glad that came across well! Yes this whole situation has been chaotic but I am very thankful and relieved there’s some light at the end of the tunnel.

Re - an average persons perception of snakes or reptiles as therapy animals: the lady I spoke to was so sweet but man her reaction was very wholesome/funny to me? She was clearly very confused and in shock about a snake being a therapy animal (not in a malicious way but it threw her off for a loop) and asked me “is it venomous??” And I laughed and assured her no my boa was not venomous and then things seemed to click for her.

So yeah, that definitely gave me a good laugh and was very nice to see any degree of open mindedness at all.

Oh but I hadn’t considered that! I’m not sure what state you’re in but in your experiences: how do you go about asking for a reference letter? Would it just be something I ask before I move out of the complex down the line or…? But yes thank you that’s really smart I really appreciate the tip!

Yes I clicked the link and I stand corrected :joy: that was a good laugh and I cannot get over the x-rays and those very tasteful snake puns ofc.


She’d probably never even considered it, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a story she tells for a while, “The time I got called about snake therapy” as a lighthearted work anecdote. Changing perspectives one boa based conversation at a time!

As for the reference letter, I’d speak to whomever is the landlord or property manager if you have to move later. Whoever has the most pull/oversees tenant issues. They might say no, but it never hurts to ask, especially if it’s something that could help in the long run.

I was actually quite happy the first time I saw the story, they could have demonized the snake, made a big issue of it, but nope. Just a day where someone tried to sneak a nope rope through security! Their social media team got that one right, for sure.


Definitely! And that’s just how I’ll introduce myself once Im at the leasing office, “Hi, I’m the guy who called about the therapy snake, I’m here for my apartment now.” But yes, I’m all here for the therapy reptiles movement really.

Got it for the reference letter! I’ll keep that in mind for something way down the line then.

It’s really refreshing to see social media get something right these days honestly, thanks so much for the share! If really made my day and as someone who deals with a coworker who insists my boa will “eat me” — yes no demonization of snakes is very very welcome.


Hey! Anytime! And pictures of this boa when you get it! Lol! :heart::snake:


@g4br13l It sounds like you’re going about things the right way. I too would caution against the “don’t ask don’t tell” tactic. I’ve done it myself with cats, a beardie, and pet rats (not all at the same time), and while I never actually got caught/in trouble, it was a pretty constant source of stress for me, always worrying that the wrong person would see or hear something and report me. Definitely not something you’ll want to be dealing with if you’re already struggling with anxiety.

I’ve struggled with anxiety all my life, and I can certainly vouch for the therapeutic value of snakes! I have several different types of animals, and when I’m having a bad time with my anxiety, my snakes are the animals I find most calming to interact with. Something about the way they move and the feel of their scales is very soothing to me. Oddly, my cats don’t help with my anxiety at all. I adore them, they just don’t help with panic attacks for some reason. Couldn’t tell you exactly why. :person_shrugging:

I hope you’re able to find a place that won’t give you trouble about your boa! An ESA letter certainly won’t hurt, though as you’re already aware, it’s not a magic bullet that all landlords will accept.


I imagine if the truth be told, probably 90% of the US population suffers from some type of anxiety/depression. When I was a kid (many moons ago) it was unheard of. Now it’s quite commonplace. I have my opinion about this that I will of course keep to myself.

Thank you @jawramik for your honesty. And thank God for our animals. :pray:



Everything you’ve said is so relatable. While I am very grateful my anxiety attacks occurred more in bed as I’m trying to fall asleep, I know what I’ve discovered is certain textures, weights, help stop my heart from racing so fast, helps me come down from the chills, and just calms me back down to where I can fall asleep without an attack happening.

Of course while I’ve tried white noise and etc. to help, I’ve realized the time I’ve had animals (dog and parakeet) I didn’t have any attacks like that when they’re there. I had the pleasure of being able to hold a snake and yeah immediately felt the same calm I get off my homemade weighted textured bracelet’— ten fold even since I could feel it moving, breathing, etc. It’s so soothing and honestly and I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Thank you for the well wishes and I’m hoping so too. They seem very ESA compliant since the lady I spoke with stated how by law they are not allowed to ask for documentation for an ESA. I do have a backup plan for the worst case scenarios but yes I’m going to give this a shot since it would help me out a lot and is important to me.