Hey there! Figured I’d seek advice here first as the Facebook groups I’m in are better at being mean than actually helpful, ha.
I have a young male Sunglow boa, about 7 months old. I’ve had him since October. He has only pooped once in that time, and hasn’t shed. Is this something I should be concerned about? Am I not feeding him enough? Been giving him a fuzzy mouse once a week. His temps and humidity are just fine, and his enclosure is full of things to climb and places to hide. No signs of illness. He also seems to always be cranky. I try to handle him 3-4 days a week (with a few days off for feeding), but only once has he come out and explored without hissing and putting on a show the whole time. Am I just stuck with a cranky boa or will he actually calm down eventually? I have another boa who is 1.5 years old and has been calm since the first time I handled her a week after she got here (late November).
If any of you more experienced keepers could offer some guidance, I would really appreciate it. Boas are so cool but I don’t have enough years with them yet to know what I should expect.
Are you keeping the boa on substrate or paper? Sometimes those little guys poop and you cant see it. Typically i like too feed boas every 2 weeks since they need time to build up gut bacteria and they digest a bit slower. As far as temperament usually boas calm down with handling/age but there are some that are just destined to be cranky.
Definitely give the full details of your setup- temps, humidity, size of enclosure, items in the enclosure, etc. I know you said they are fine, but it’s not really possible for the boa keepers to give meaningful, informed advice without your individual husbandry details. Also, if you can, tell us the type of source for your boa (breeder, craigslist, etc.), the source of your feeders, frozen/thawed or live, any veterinary exams or tests it’s had, and any other animals you have that share the same equipment/housing.
Yes as @mblaney said, detailed information is needed. You may be handling him a tad too much however. And an every 7 day feeding schedule is fine as long as the prey size is appropriate. There is always the possibility of impaction if he is on and ingesting loose substrate.
Definitely additional information is needed for correct advice to be given. There are tons of experienced breeders/keepers here who can and will help you!
I agree specific parameters/husbandry information will get you more precise advise. That being said I’ll also second dsed comment although a lot of members here probably have more experience than me*
In certain beddings I literally have to actively search out the feces and urates. For example, coco chips/choir in my experience absorbs and kills the smell very well. I like to think I keep very clean cages but when I did a full substrate swap I was surprised I missed a few on my younger boas, dried and crusted. I’ve noticed my smaller boas tend to have bowel movements on the hot side/spot. With it being so small they dry up quick and the smell dissipates quick making it easy to miss. I went back to paper and they are all pretty regular on the 14-21 day feeding schedule, very easy to spot but not as natural. I’ve noticed they usually go 10-14 days after eating but urates tend to be more random with mine. Now that I’ve seen that consistently I want to reintroduce bedding and just look much better on my routine cleanings.
I’d like to add I bought a boa from BoaMorph earlier this year. A RLT, she’s a '20. I was very surprised when he said she was feeding on a mouse about 7-10 days. I said, “You mean a rat?” (based off her width) and Steve corrected me and said, “no a mouse”. Seemed small, yet frequent to me but she’s not fat and has a great build. 100% healthy. I only mention this because I feel that on that same feeding regimen she probably would have gone longer between sheds even though she was fed more frequently. I had my '21 on weaned-very small rats and she shed immediately after bumping her up. She is doing fine and has the same build on a 2-3 week schedule with a larger prey item. A fuzzy mouse is pretty small for a 7 month old boa pending genetics/size at birth.
A picture in this case is worth 1k words. Specifics on your husbandry and parameters will help you get accurate advise.
And @dsed I have a sleek little bi color python that pretty much lives burrowed in his humid cypress mulch. He is dark, his substrate is dark and his poop for the most part is dark so yes it could be that your boa is pooping but you just can’t see it if he is on a dark substrate.
Also, I have an 8 month old baby girl CA boa that is the daughter of my adult male and female and she is becoming a bit hissy, unlike her parents when they were babies. Once I have her out of her enclosure she calms down nicely. I am sure your little boy will do the same eventually.
Anyway, that’s it!
Here’s his enclosure. The picture makes it look smaller than it is - it’s a 40-gallon tote and he’s only barely longer than the longest side.
I got him from a reputable breeder. Keeping him on ReptiBark like all my other reptiles, so it’s possible I’ve missed some poops even though I do a full substrate change every 1-1.5 months. Feeding f/t from PetSmart (Arctic Mice) though I may switch to ordering from Layne Labs soon. He has never missed a meal, but like I said I’m feeding fuzzy mice - if I go up a size, should I do everg 10 days instead of once a week?
Hasn’t been to the vet. I don’t really share anything between reptiles except feeding tongs, but those are sanitized between pets.
As for temps, warm side is about 88, cool side sits around 78-80. Humidity seems to always be between 60-70%.
A lot of people told me “oh, handle him daily and he’ll calm down” but that doesn’t seem to be working, haha.
I think I answered all of the questions, but please ask more if more information would be helpful!
Looks comfy and clean with plenty of coverage and climbs.
When I clean my enclosures I’ll place my boas in a tub similar to this and I’ve noticed when I go to pull them back out they’ll “S” up and really check me out. I think it’s their instincts at play as predators probably come from above in the wild. I wonder if that’s contributing to it’s behavior when you go to interact with it?
I am wondering if it has to do with the top-opening enclosure. I plan to upgrade to a more permanent enclosure for him later this year, one that opens on the side.
I always try to lift him out with a hook to avoid being directly over him because I can’t blame him for getting spooked if a large creature is hovering above him haha
I’ve noticed that even my blood python’s poops (which are much larger than what would come out of a baby boa) are easy to miss on coco husk substrate, so it’s totally possible you’re just missing them. I’ve started doing monthly substrate changes, just to ensure she’s not having to sit in any waste I might miss for too long. I’ve thought about going back to paper bedding, but she likes burrowing in the coco husk and I like the way it looks, sooo… But if you want to be sure he’s pooping, switching to paper/paper towels, at least in the short term, might not be a bad idea.
I don’t know any Boa husbandry but I do know a little about animal training, and I’d recommend you the Youtube channel of Lori Torrini, who teaches choice based handling and target training, and how to offer your animal options so they feel like they are safe and in control of what happens to them.
I have a shy snake I’ve used these methods with and gotten voluntary handling time from him. We’ve come a long way, and there’s a long way to go but that’s why this hobby is a hobby, not just an ownership. I’m going to keep working with him.
I only keep a couple of dwarf boas (Caulker cay, Tarahumara mountain, and pewter) so my feeding schedule is slower, but even as a hatchling they all were only on fuzzies for a month then I moved them to larger food.
I could be wrong, and correct me if I’m wrong but I was always told boas have slower systems than pythons and will not poop as much. I do soak at least once a month and they usually go in the tub.
it will poop, they always do.
For that age of boa that is a pretty small meal, and if you are doing full substrate changes that often you probably missed small urate/poo mixes etc. Boas have such a slow metabolism, even tho I do larger (med to large mouse) for similar aged boas I do so every 10 to 14 days, and they still only pass once ever 1-2 months. My Colombian even less - seems like they absorb a ton while growing.
Maybe try a warm soak? At the least it could help hydrate, electrolyte reptile soaks can help too. But I wouldn’t be too worried, especially since you probably at least missed a small amount of urates.
I’m not sure if anyone mentioned this but some of my boas like to poop while they’re under the substrate. Definitely easy to miss. Also joosh13 makes a great point about soaking them in warm water.
Oh also, when you go to put him back in his tub, let him slide through your hand while feeling his belly. If nothing is hard etc, he at least isn’t in any immediate danger. And he will warm up to handling as he grows as long as you keep it up
Did you ever post his picture? I saw his tub (nice) but I didn’t him……
Thank you all for your advice! I will try to soak him this weekend just for my peace of mind.
I did up his prey size to a small mouse. Going to feed him those until I run out, then I think he can take a medium but I’ll space it out more. Since feeding him a small mouse he seems more active! I feel bad, I wonder if I was only feeding him enough to exist before.
Here’s the most recent picture I have of him, haha. It’s hard for me to get pictures of him while he’s out but I’ll try next time.
He looks very pretty! Don’t feel badly about what you have been feeding him! Most snakes are able to survive with a lot less! Under feeding a bit is a lot healthier for them than over feeding a lot!
Just remember you are trying to do the best for him and you are! For one thing you came to the right place for advice! Just keep asking questions if you are unsure! These people won’t steer you wrong!
All the best!
I just want to say I love that you have a bunch of cover in there for him. I am sure that he will calm down for you and make a wonderful pet.