The right boa for my particular situation? 🤔

I’ve always been very fond of boas—of all snakes, I love their build and overall aesthetic the best. From a cosmetic standpoint, they’re my no. 1 choice.

The term “eats like a boa” is also very appealing, because one of my biggest hang-ups with getting a snake has always been fear of having my pet go on a hunger strike. :sob: That would just… stress me… so much. I’ve always been wary of getting a bp for this reason, despite what precious little noodles they are otherwise. X3 There’s no way I could deal with feeding anything live, and I have this fear that I’d get a snake that would try to starve itself to death. :pleading_face:

So with all that in mind, a bci would be my first choice… except for one thing: I’m not sure how much snake would be TOO much snake for me to safely manage. For the sake of long-term planning, I don’t want to rely on having another person present whenever I need to clean the enclosure or toss in a meal… I’m a 31-year-old woman who stands at 5’7”, and upper body strength is definitely not my strong suit. :pensive: I’ve lifted snakes of bci size before, but if they were to have an “animal moment” and manage to get around my neck or chest… I don’t how confident I am that I would make it out of that encounter without another person on hand. Just how hard would it be to manage a bci on the smaller end of the size chart? 5’-7’ male, let’s say. I suppose I could seek out a smaller adult bci that had more or less maxed out already, but would that still be too much?

Then there are other boa species, like the rosy or sand boas… Sands are adorable, but I don’t really want a snake that spends a lot of time underground… and the rosy… Well, I’ve never seen one in-person, but something about their physique seems almost colubrid-esque. They don’t quite click with me like the common boas, or similar.

So… is there an “ideal” boa for my situation? XD A species I haven’t named? Bonus points for garbage disposals, lol. Or am I over-worried about handling the bci?


A central american would probably fit your requirements. Nicaraguan, Sonoran, Honduran, or any that are listed as “CA” would be considerably smaller, even if crossed with a big Columbian. I have a Nicaraguan cross female that might be 5 feet. Eats like a horse and has all the boa traits you mentioned above.

That said, my 16yo daughter is about your size and she handles our male BCI’s no problem. But a central will likely be your best bet over the long term.


I agree with going in the CA direction.

I’ll cheer on the Sonoran Boas as my favorite small Boas in the BI/BCO/BCC/BS/BCL/BCA family tree. My adult pair are closing in on 10 years old and they’re both quite manageable in size.


Oh, that sounds perfect! I didn’t realize there were such drastic regional differences… I’m a newb
With anything outside of actual species divisions. XD

On a related note… Not boas obviously, but all of the SD retics I’ve seen seemed to have a much slimmer body (proportionately) than mainlands… I’m curious how strong and/or dangerous they end up? Did I just see skinnier individuals? One of the smallest almost seemed comparable to the mass of a colubrid like a blue/black racer or similar, which I wouldn’t think was capable of overpowering an adult human of basically any size… :thinking: I certainly wouldn’t want to risk much size variation in a retic, though. XD

Do you know their approximate lengths? I’m curious where they max out on average in males and females. :slight_smile:


They’re both under 6’

The male is probably half a foot shorter and slimmer build, but not by much as they’re both healthy.


Retics are very strong animals. It’s very possible that they could overpower someone smaller, but I think if you got a male from good lineage, it would be an option. When fed right, they will stay skinnier, but most of the ones you see are overfed.


I agree with @themorphranch @randall_turner_jr My male (Red), CA boa is 5 years old and he is the most adorable sweetest easy going boy ever. I am 67 years old, 5 feet tall with neuropathy and nerve damage resulting from a shingles vaccine I got in 2019. I said all that to give you an idea of my physical condition. Red is around 5 feet long and weighs around 6 lbs if that. I would highly recommend a male CA boa for you. I am pretty much sure you could easily handle him with ease. And remember, it will take around 5 years for him to get that size. I got Red when he was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand.

Unfortunately I had to rehome my female because even though she was a sweet girl she got too heavy for me to manage, due to my strength and health. But she went to a good friend of mine, a retired veteran actually, and I can visit her anytime.

Red is in a 4 x 2 x 2 Boaphile but it took a while to get to that size. I feed him a large rat once a month.

I also agree with @erie-herps regarding the retic. Imo I would not recommend a sd retic unless you find a highly reputable breeder with lots of proven facts. Also you will pay thousands of dollars for that kind of snake as opposed to paying hundreds for a CA boa.

And as an added note: Any snake of any sort can and sometimes will go off feed for any reason. There is no guarantee that the snake you decide on will not go off feed. That fact is just simply something any snake keeper has to accept and deal with as a part of snake keeping. Period. You just have to get through it and go on.


I love good old BCIs personally. Well, they can get bigger. I’m only 5’ 8” and a pretty small guy and I am perfectly capable of handling an adult female BCI. It takes them a long time for them to get those larger sizes, if they ever reach them. If you’re feeding your snakes properly they’re not gonna be come 9 1/2 foot monsters that are 60 pounds lol :joy:. 8 feet is a very healthy female, in any regard.


I thought that boas were stronger than pythons, pound for pound? Or at least, their pressure psi? Although that probably varies from species to species… I think I read that the smallest SDs were 5-foot males, but I also don’t know how predictable that is… I would definitely never buy one without as much verification as humanly possible that it actually is what it claims to be—magnificent as mainlands are, they are waaaaay too much for me to handle. XD

Aaaww, that’s a beautiful snake! He looks like such a sweetheart, too. <3 That is about the perfect size I would want, I think… and gotta love that slow boa metabolism, lol.

I’m guessing the feeding issues are just a quirk of snake biology, huh? :thinking: Is it to do with the snake thinking that it needs to prepare for brumation? I know snakes can generally go a long time without eating (at least, without starving to death), but at what point does it become worrisome enough to call the exotics vet? I think that’s what scares me… that I would make the wrong call, and either stress the snake more by dragging them to the vet, or let it go too long and then have it turn out to be a more serious, underlying problem that’s causing them to refuse food… It’s hard to move outside of the old “dog stops eating, start worrying” mindset, because that’s the rule for basically all of the mammalian pets I’ve had over the years… It’s hard to adjust to the idea of only needing to feed once a month, from a mammal perspective. XD


Hard to beat the classics, I agree. :laughing: I do wish that the smaller subspecies had the sheer variety of morphs that bcis have. I’ve always loved blizzards…

Is it really so easy for a snake to become obese? I always thought snakes kind of self-regulated, because of the long periods of time it takes to digest one meal. I have definitely seen some snakes that looked like 2 or 3 normal specimens rolled together, though…


For small size boas, Solomon Island ground/tree boas. They range from 3 to 5ft as adults. They fire up with color change from what I read. They are semi aboreal as well in a small frame.

Something that gets decent size but smaller than a BCI, perhaps a Dumerils boa? They tend to bury under substrate more often but do explore a good amount


I’d strongly recommend against an SD retic personally. They can stay smaller to some extent but I wouldn’t count on them staying 5’, and males can be very unpredictable and combative when mature and in breeding mode. I may just have had terrible luck with mine, but had a couple in the past and they were the most awful snakes I’ve kept in almost 30yrs.
As for small boas, most any of the dwarf/island localities would be a great fit. Tarahumara, Caulker Cay, Crawl Cay, Hog Island tend to stay in the 4’ range as adults and take a while to reach that size. My Tarahumaras and Caulker Cay are all right at a year old and barely weigh 100grams if even that. Maybe 2’ long at most. Boas grow much slower than most pythons and give you some time to acclimate to managing them at larger sizes.


Imho, you are overthinking the feeding/off feed issue a bit. When Red became of breeding age 3 years old I think?) he did go off feed for several months. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried. However a friend of mine who is an exotics vet along with another friend who is an exotics technician who works at that clinic, kind of held my hand :raised_back_of_hand: until one day he started eating again. Should you get a snake, boa or not, and this should happen to you down the road, all you have to do is buy a reptile scale and keep track of its weight. Chances are you won’t see much weight loss to worry about. I didn’t with Red.

As an example of an adult boa’s feeding schedule, for my Red, a once a month large rat is plenty for him. You have to take into consideration that snakes in general lead a fairly sedentary lifestyle, especially when they live in captivity. As an adult, Red doesn’t burn a whole lot of calories. When he’s hanging out with me he just finds a comfy spot, curls up and he’s done. Even when he’s outside in the grass it would probably take him an hour to get from one side to the other of our yard. And it’s a small yard. Mature snakes just don’t need the extra calories as hatchlings, babies and even juveniles.

It is wonderful that you are asking questions and researching. You are certainly doing your homework beforehand. Imho, if you are truly leaning toward a larger but manageable snake with a puppy dog demeanor (there are always exceptions) then you want a boa, CA type.

However I am a bit prejudiced! Lol! And I think there is a MM community rule that everyone on here has to own at least 1 boa @lumpy? Right?

Also you mentioned rosy boas. I have the most amazing little rosy as well. He feels so velvety that it seems he could just melt in my hand……. :blush::snake:


It’s going to depend on the species, but I’ve always heard that retics are very powerful for their size. If you were to go the retic route you would want one from a very small female and a small male (the size of babies depends more on the female parent than the male). Personally, I think you would be better off getting a boa unless you were absolutely set on a retic.


Lol not if you want garbage cans for appetites. They will ALWAYS take a meal!


100% this is truth!


I agree with this opinion @adra unless someone who owns an adult sd retic chimes in.

If you don’t have a lot of upper body strength that’s definitely a con on the retic side. My female CA that I had to re home was one big heavy muscle. She would coil around anything she could in seconds and hang on tight! Lol!

Here is one more thing to consider too. The type of boas we are touting are essentially not the brightest of snakes for whatever reason. Retics on the other hand are said to be “smart”. In other words that means to me that a nice healthy strong retic, albeit a dwarf retic, could, depending on the situation, have things its own way.

Anyhoo, there are a ton of things to consider. I can’t think of anyone off hand who has a retic but I know they are out there because I have seen pictures posted off and on……:thinking:


We have an STP club so we should have a BOA club! Or do we??? :thinking::thinking::thinking::thinking::sunglasses:


I have a nice little male Sunglow Boa BCI. He is very sweet and just turned a year old.


Oh, so like with hybrid animals… that makes sense. If I ever end up deciding to get one, I’ll keep that in mind.

I’d always thought that the only reason retics were considered a more “experts only” snake was just because… GIANT snake. It’s a shame that people have had issues with aggression in the SD/D retics. Definitely not something I’d want to deal with as a first pet snake. >_<; Especially since interacting with the animals and handling them (vs. display pet) is important to me. :sweat_smile:

Oh, that would be a comfort—to see whether or not they’re losing weight fast. I should probably pick up a scale for any pet reptile, I’m guessing? I need to add that to my shopping list…

Aawww, that sounds so cute. :heart: Do you have any photos of him? :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Oh, that actually was something I meant to ask about… All of the terminology and traits are a bit new to me—does morph affect size/temperament/build, or other non-color-related aspects? Besides obvious genetic quirks like light sensitivity, I mean? I keep seeing references to motleys staying small, for instance, but I thought motley was just a pattern or color trait?

Thank you for all the advice everyone, by the way!