So, I’ve always wanted to keep these beautiful little guys. And I think as keepers we should do as much research and knowledge gathering as we can beforehand. Unfortunately, finding information on keeping these fascinating little boas is proving to be tough. Everything seems to be lacking in practical detail, or out of date, or I’m just looking in the wrong places.
Does anyone on here have any practical experience to share? Advice?
Yeah, so far that’s all I can get too. Just try to match something close. I’m hoping someone here has more practical experience to share, since there are so many people here.
I’ve been to Central America, the climates are more varied than one might think. The information I’ve seen so far talks about finding them in a surprisingly wide range. I am just really hoping I don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. Seems like it would be tough on the animals as I stumble along trying to make adjustments.
This is one of the hazards when dealing with WC species that have not been broadly worked with. You do not even want to know what my body count is for some of the species I have tried (and sadly failed) to establish. It almost makes me want to give up… Almost
But from the little I have managed to find, these guys ought not to be too bad. So here’s hoping. Maybe as keepers, this might be one of those species we can create a reserve population for incase their native range gets wiped. Besides, they’re awesome little guys!
They do seem to have a rather broad range so I suspect their habitat tolerance is probably a bit more broad. That said, I also suspect they are micro-habitat specialists so I would not test that tolerance very far.
Dug in to them a little more and found a very few natural history papers. I would aim for a highly vertical oriented cage with European-style venting. Best bet would be to have all three sides done up as tree trunks if possible. I would outfit a high portion of the vertical with bromeliads and Tillandsia to act as cover/hide. Add a few branches to allow vertical and horizontal travel. I would do a crepuscular-oriented UV A/B source in tandem with a full spectrum bulb and maybe a standard incandescent to act as a heat source.
Yeah, that was mostly what I was thinking to try first. Vertical spaces, hiding spots, high humidity, light sources primarily for the plants. I’m thinking under tank heat in a limited spot, but if they’re full arboreal, that might be of limited use. Adding in a loose substrate, I’ve seen, I think it was two notes suggesting some burrowing, but I’m not sure. They may have been escape attempts, or I misremembered.
The temps worry me abit. There are surprisingly wide ranges in Central America, especially as this species is noted in low and montane regions.
I know there are keeper/breeders of this species and it’s relative, Ungaliophis panamensis the banana boa. I just hope some of them will be willing to share some of their experience.
Hey guys, while I have not kept continentalis, I have been to its habitat in Mexico. They are a montane species with lower temp requirements. Perhaps there are populations at lower elevations however, to the best of my knowledge, never in warm tropical forests. The habitat i visited was pine-oak forest, also used by Abronia lizards. Day temps in the summer rise to no more than 28 Celsius (82 F), nights will be around 15-18 C (59-64 F). The max is air temp in the sun, but just an inch or two under a bark or leaf litter will show temps in the 20-23 C (upper 60’s-mid 70’s F). These boas are apparently ground animals. A friend has found them under rocks, moss and bark/leaflitter.
The habitat has a rainy season from May to October during which the forest floor is moist but never soggy like a cloud forest. Some mornings there is fog for a few hours before the sun rises, at which point the air dries out.
During the dry season, the ground is quite dry and you can only find moisture in rock crevices, if any, and probably mammal burrows. Abronia will drink from the dew in the early mornings. The bromelia and tillandsia density is not very high in the habitat I visited, thus a couple months into the dry period I would assume there is no more water in the leaf pits.
Winter temps are chilly at night, lows around 5-10C (40-50F). Days climb to 18-22C (64-71F).
I would try a terrarium with a temp gradient of 20-22C on the cooler end and 25-26C on the warm end. keep moist hides on both the warm and cool sides. Let nights drop to at least 18C (64F). That’s important. If keeping this temp gradient in one terrarium is challenging, which it can be depending on the room and the terrarium size, the consider two terrariums connected by a pvc pipe. One terrarium you keep cool, and the other tepid. It will be better to err on the cool side and have a small basking area no hotter than 90, then to keep this species too hot. You will kill them from heat exhaustion.
They burrow a lot or at least live hidden under things, thus offer a 6-10 inch leaf litter/mulch or moss substrate. You will probably not see them much. They seem to be crepuscular and nocturnal.
Food: I am thinking lizards and amphibians are the staple, with the occasional very small mammal. Offspring may eat insects, no idea but based on their size, it should be a good possibility.
I would avoid bright lighting as well as they live on the forest floor. I bet in nature they bask under a layer of leaf litter or bark and never in the open. Can’t confirm that. Hope this helps.
Thanks for your help!
I was already thinking along those lines for the temps, though I hadn’t thought to put them that cool. I guess they probably don’t really brumate, but I’ll bet a cooler “season” might be necessary to trigger breeding. The fact that so many specimens have been found in in the trees, makes me wonder. I’m thinking that they may be predating small lizards and frogs in the trees, while hiding in burrows the rest of the time. I’ve noted that they have been found up in trees, climbing, and on the ground, they seem to be quite adaptive. This is going to be interesting and challenging.
This information is interesting. It contradicts a fair bit of what is stated in the literature. That said, it might also explain the low number of sightings of these animals as people are looking for them in the wrong places…
Based on what you are describing, it sounds almost like these are Mexican/Central American versions of rubber boas. And if that analogy is correct, then it might also imply their predation method is one of nest-raiding
I feel like the examination of this species was already fairly light, and the work isn’t really recent. If the original work was off, and no one subsequently followed up with significant corrections, then maybe the reason these animals seem to be “difficult” to keep is because we’re all working off incorrect assumptions?
Kinda why I was hoping someone who has successfully kept this animal in a hobbyist type setting would speak up. I’m dreading the possibility that no one has done it. But you do see the occasional, supposedly, captive bred individual for sale, so someone must be doing it.
With contradictory eye witness information, I’m inclined to agree with @t_h_wyman, perhaps we’re just going about it wrong?
Dangit, that would almost guarantee that I’m gonna have to guinea pig this.
Oh wait, that means I get to design a whole habitat, with multiple levels and micro environments, offer a wide range of prey, seasonal weather alterations, and record stupid amounts of data on everything from behavior to fecal weight in a, possibly futile, attempt to determine a successful husbandry SOP. Awesome.
Oh, my aspie brain is so happy right now.