Help me choose my next snake

I could use a little advice and feedback from some of the more seasoned snake-keepers in the community. I definitely want to get another snake relatively soon, probably in roughly 6-12 months or so. I want my young blood python to be settled into her permanent adult enclosure before I get another addition, but I’m a planner, so I’m doing some research, squirreling away materials, etc. I’ve been waffling a bit on what I want my next species to be. Of course, I know that this is a very subjective decision that is ultimately up to me, but I’d still appreciate any wisdom you fine folks could offer about my three “finalist” species. They are:
Some sort of boa constrictor
Sumatran Short-tail
Dwarf/super dwarf retic

For background, I currently have a Kenyan sand boa and a blood python. I had a Cali King as a teenager, have kept several species of lizard over the years, and was very involved in caring for my roommate’s ball python. I’m certainly not an expert, but I feel like I have a reasonably good handle on the basics of reptile care, and I’m always researching and trying to learn more.

I really enjoy handling my reptiles, so while I’m not afraid of a defensive baby, I would like a species that is likely to tame down with proper socialisation. I love large snakes, but space is somewhat limited, hence why a mainland retic didn’t make the list. I feel like the three species I’ve narrowed it down to fit the bill of being handleable and interactive, and big enough without being too big. I also feel their environmental requirements are very manageable for me. I also want something that’s likely to be a good eater, ideally on f/t prey (I’ll probably look for an individual that’s already been eating f/t).

So, for anyone who has kept one or more of those species, what are some pros and cons of each? Are there any other species you think I should consider?

I should probably note that I’m currently leaning more in the direction of the boa or the retic, just because I already have a blood python and I like variety. But on the other hand, I’m so in love with my blood that part of me is tempted to stick with that species complex, and Sumatrans are a close second-favourite for me within the short-tail species.


These get my vote as you have a blood and retics of any size will be a handful. If you want something bigger go with a female boa. Though if you want the biggest boa, go for a female suri. I hope this helps. 6 ft - 8 ft enclosure length wise. Best handling experience lol :joy:.


I mean royals are amazing. :joy:

But if you want what one of which you’ve said for sure, I’d say boa to!

Then again maybe a lady for your blood?…. :smirk:


If you decide on a sd retic. My advice would be a female. I know they get larger but males while can be very tame can get a little aggressive, or more skittish during breeding season. Also make sure your sd is over 50% kalatoa they are the smallest easy to get sds and make sure you get info on the mom that determines a lot of the potential size that the snake can reach genetically. Great snakes though in my opinion! Good luck!


I recommend a BI or BCC of some sort out of the ones on that list. That way you can better master humidity without going the hard route of a sd retic. That, and retics pee like…everyday. So much pee, all the time. According to people that keep em at least. Retics are hard mode with humidity though, and their feeding response is even more legendary than a boas, so having a boa as a work up to a retic would be the best plan imo.

Edit: If you want a unique large boa too, maybe a BCO, aka Argentine boa would be good. They are dark and beautiful and some even have high pinks. If I ever get into boa constrictors, and ever have the money, I would get a BCO.


You are right about the pee!! @ashleyraeanne i do have to clean their cages 2 times a week at least! (I use paper) Humidity though I have never had a issue and I live in Colorado where it’s dry a lot. The only thing I do at all is mist them when they go into shed, but I do that even with my ball pythons here. Never a problem, and if they are familiar with any blood or short tailed python which can be more of an intermediate level with humidity and air flow/exchange they will be good. Pushing though can be a negative for a retic. I have yet to have any issues with that, but I know it can be an issue.


I have big cages for my retics and use a deep layer of aspen and it makes the cleanup really manageable.

I would say either a boa or a sd retic but you’ll hear enough of the positive so I’ll share some of the bad side of both.

Both boas and retics can be really spicy, it comes down to the individual. Despite how many generations cbb they are, some of them still have very strong personalities. The difference is you can usually back a retic down with a little stimulation from a hook and then pick it up and interact with it.

A really defensive boa has zero backup in it. You won’t calm it with hook pressure or a roll of paper towels. You’ll leave it be, or it’s coming out swinging. This can usually be solved by working with them regularly from a young age. In those instances where they never calm down, I’m just as cautious with a mean adult boa as I am with a retic. When my big female’s food drive is in gear, you will feed her or leave her alone, you’re not handling her though. Mostly boas are really predictable with their defensive behavior and strikes but my Anery male will occasionally hit you out of nowhere. I have a yearling Kahl Albino that’s shown zero improvement and will probably be a biter for life. If he doesn’t change, he will be a dangerous animal as an adult. That’s a possibility you face with larger constrictors. That said the majority of my boas are as good as it gets as far pets go, and they’re one of my favorite species to handle.

I only have two retics, both are males. One of them is more docile than a lot of my ball pythons are. The other one can be at times. Mostly, he’s a real retic. He’s about 4 years old and 10’ long. I can take him out and handle him, on most days. Feeding response you can usually turn off, if he’s in shed though, no touchy. If he’s feeling hormonal, no touchy. If you take him outside and he catches a feeding response from smelling a rodent or a bird, get ready for a serious battle. Even a SD is going to get 7-8’ and retics use their entire body better than boas do. They’re much more agile. If you’re handling and they go bonkers for food of fear it becomes a situation where you typically have one entire arm wrapped. Once that happens, they will usually strike up at your face or at your other hand if it moves to quickly. It’s extremely difficult to dodge face bites with a snake wrapped around your arm too. I always keep a hook handy and I don’t handle anything over 8’ if I’m alone.

The big snakes are awesome but I would recommend buying your first one in person where you can handle the animal and verify it’s temperament a little bit. Most of them are going to be a rewarding experience but it can definitely go the other way.


Thank you all so much for your feedback! You’ve given me some really good information and things to think about as I consider my decision. It’s always helpful to hear first-hand experiences with some of these snakes.

@lumpy, I already knew what your pick would be before I posted this. :joy: I think of you as “the boa guy” in my head (or alternately, “Willow’s dad”). Your advocacy for boas is one of the things that’s convinced me I need to get one, haha.

My blood actually is a lady, haha. I’m not that interested in breeding right now, but who knows, maybe I will get her a boyfriend somewhere down the line. Right now, I’m more interested in keeping a variety of different species. Royal/ball pythons are wonderful and I’m sure I’ll end up with one (or several) at some point, but right now I’m wanting something with a little more size.

@banereptiles That’s really good to know about male vs. female retics. I was kind of leaning towards a female anyway, though not for any logical reason, I just have an irrational preference for female snakes (I guess because snakes in general have always seemed sort of feminine to me…? Not sure why that is, but I feel the same way about spiders). And I’d definitely be looking for something that’s at least 50% Kalatoa, especially if I got a female.

@ashleyraeanne BCOs are definitely one of the boas I’m interested in, they’re absolutely stunning. I do wish they weren’t so pricey, but I’ve got some time to save up, so we’ll see. It sounds like retics pee even more than short-tails! That’s honestly not a deal-breaker for me, but it’s good to know all the same. I also feel like I have a pretty good handle on managing humidity, both from my blood python, and from working with cresties and chameleons in the past. I live in a pretty dry climate, but I’ve found that so long as I use an enclosure and substrate that hold humidity well, it’s actually pretty easy for me maintain proper humidity levels.

@ballornothing That’s all really good information, thank you! I’m of course aware that there are feisty/defensive individuals among any species (I’ve even encountered a couple spicy ball pythons and one amazingly ill-tempered corn snake), but I didn’t realize that retics are potentially easier to “reset” than defensive boas. Also good to know that retics are more agile than boas. Your comparison of some of the potential negative aspects of each species is extremely informative and helpful, so thank you! I intend to get a baby I can socialize myself, but that’s good advice to handle before buying. That would be my preference anyway. I got my blood off MM, and it worked out great, but even so, I’d still feel more comfortable being able to see and handle an animal first. Plus I find the whole process of shipping rather stressful. My hope is to either find something at an expo, or find a breeder within a reasonable driving distance.


Lol, they are the kings of snakes in my eyes lol.


I’d recommend a nice cbb suriname. I have a 3rd generation FLRT and she couldn’t be more docile. Her feeding response is the only time I’m really cautious. In my experience different blood lines can have different personalities. While beautiful, something to think about.


Surinames are definitely among the BC species/locales that I find really appealing. Their patterning and colouration are so gorgeous.

Though that leads me to another dilemma: if I decide to go with a boa, which species/locale/morph do I choose? There are so many wonderful, beautiful options, it’s hard to settle on a single favourite!


It is a tough decision for sure. There are a lot of fantastic breeders but definitely give Florida redtails a look among others. Mike Eckert, Rob Tudehope are among other good breeders with fantastic animals. Looking forward to seeing whatever you choose.


It seems like whenever I feel like I’ve decided on what type of boa I want, I inevitably end up seeing something else and going “Oooo, or maybe I want that instead!” For a while I had my heart set on a motley BCI, as I find that motley pattern really striking. And while I still love the motleys, the more I learn about the various boa options out there, the less sure I become about what I actually want, haha.

Ultimately I think it’s going to come down to what’s available to me and what ends up “speaking” to me once I’m to the point where I’m ready to actually pull the trigger. And that also goes for the type/species of snake as well. I can totally see myself going to an expo with the intention of getting a boa, and then finding the sd retic or Sumatran short-tail of my dreams and going home with that instead.

I do intend to eventually have all three of those snakes, it’s just a question of what order I get them in.


My recomendation if you want a larger boa that isnt too hard to handle (so long as you provide proper enclosure and husbandry would be a female BCI. There are a ton of awesome morphs, and females are a good foot or two larger than males on average. BCI temperment is also very laid back, so would make for a fine snake just to work with friends and family if you want to get them interested in reptiles instead of afraid of them.

Whatever you choose, obviously research and prep in advance! If you go Retic, please make sure you have somebody else willing and capable to help you work with them. While accidents are rare, they do happen and people have died. Having a second person around in case of an accidental feed response makes it safer for you, your animal, and the hobby as a whole. I am not saying individuals cant take care of retics on their own, but having an extra set if hands is the better option :slight_smile: at least in my humble opinion as somebody who has read about retics, but not owned them personally.


Oh, I’m all about research and preparation (as evidenced by the fact that I’m asking for advice on a purchase that’s likely a year away, haha). I like to have everything set up and make sure that temp and humidity levels are stable and where they should be fir at least a few days before actually acquiring the animal. One reason why I want to wait until my blood python is settled into her adult enclosure before getting another snake is because that will ensure I have enclosures and heating elements of various sizes freed up for the new addition, once my blood has vacated them.

I’ve read some conflicting information on how necessary a standby handler is for a high-percentage super dwarf retic (which is what I would get if I go for the retic). It’s certainly recommended for mainland retics, but I most commonly see it recommended for snakes over 10’, and I’d be aiming to get a high-percentage SD that’s likely to top out at right around that length (or only slightly longer). That said, I certainly don’t think it’s a bad idea to have a second person around who is willing and able to help when working with any large constrictor, even if it’s under that 10’ mark, so that’s definitely something I’ll have to think about and factor into my decision when the time comes.


Keep in mind girth matters too. For example, a 10-12ft coastal carpet python i would argue wouldnt need a spotter, as their girth is still very manageable, whereas a retic of the same length would be a higher risk. Some judgement definitely applies! And I agree, if the dwarf retics arent as long or girthy, i could see the arguement for not beeding a spotter.


Retics are actually very thin snakes naturally. Many are just overweight sausages. A boa of 10ft would be a stronger and bigger animal than a retic of 10ft.


Never seen a carpet that I would say is too much over 8’.
There are always exceptions of course but generally they stay a great manageable size as you pointed out. They also don’t present anywhere near the danger that an 8’ boa does.

This is very true. Retics are grossly overfed and pound for pound boas are quite a bit stronger.


Honestly, unless you are like 6’5" and stronger than most, any constrictor over 7ft shouldn’t be handled alone. Sure, boas are usually like snake puppies (snuppies?) but it is always better to be safe than sorry. Like my 4’10" self will only be handling 6ft constrictors alone.


Get a boa! If you want something bigger than hangs on to you more…get a BCC. If you want something alittle smaller than moves around more get like a Sonoran or a Tarahumara boa. Happy medium…get a Colombian morph…so many patterns & colors to choose from. Something for everyone.