7 boas and pythons that make the best pets

Boa constrictors and pythons have a certain mystique about them. Loved by some and feared by most, the best boa and python species kept as pets include the ball python, Dumeril’s boa, sand boa, rosy boa, Hog Island boa, red tail boa constrictor, and the spotted python. Let’s take a closer look.

1 – Ball python

While the ball python isn’t my personal first choice, I can admit that they make the best pet out of all pythons available. Known for being extremely docile and never growing to an unmanageable size, these snakes don’t require large enclosures and won’t cost much to feed. The cost of a ball python is anywhere from under $100 to over $10,000. It all depends on how rare the morph is.

7 pet snakes that stay small
Baby ball python

The most common problem with ball pythons is their difficult to feed, especially when introduced to a new environment. Hatchlings can also be problematic in this area. For this reason, it’s important for those new to the hobby to buy a ball python that has already taken several meals. In other words, it’s well-started and feeds aggressively or no deal. 

Believe it or not, even those these snakes have been mass-produced beyond belief in captivity, wild-caught specimens are still offered for sale. I recommend staying away from imports. They’re especially prone to hunger strikes that can last up to a year. Field collected specimens also come with added bonuses like mites and ticks. These are all problems that are best avoided.

Dumeril’s boa make great pets

2 – Dumeril’s boa

Dumeril’s boas make great pets for several reasons. First, you can’t beat the gentle temperament of the Dumeril’s boa. Somewhat shy, especially when introduced to a new home, the Dumeril’s boa is very docile and rarely bites.

In all the years I’ve kept these snake, I have yet to get bit by a Dumeril’s Boa. These boas get big but not too big always keeping them at a manageable size. Like adults, they need an enclosure four to six feet in length depending on their size.

These boas share something in common with ball pythons. They are sometimes difficult to get feeding, especially when first-born. One must show patience in this area. Once they do start feeding, they’ll never stop, except if moved to a new home or when a female reaches the end of her gestation period.

3. Sand boa

The sand boa continues to grow in popularity. While I’ve never kept one myself, it’s easy to see why they make such great pets. These snakes are reportedly very easy to breed and some morphs exist. They bare live young and certain phases draw higher prices. They seem to be one of the most docile boas although they are shy.

Use sand as a substrate when keeping these snakes because they prefer to burrow. Having the wrong substrate may induce stress among the sand boa species. This could lead to a hunger strike which could ultimately prove deadly. 

4 . Rosy boa

The reason why the sand boa ranks one point higher than the rosy boa is because of popularity. At the present time, the rosy boa is not being mass-produced like the sand boa. Even so, I prefer the rosy boa over the sand boa. These boas are extremely docile in temperament. I’ve never been bit by one and never heard of anyone who has.

Rosy boa

They’re somewhat shy, especially when first acquired. It may take a month for a rosy boa to fully acclimate to its new environment. I’ve never had a problem feeding these snakes, but they are a little picky until they feel completely comfortable. These modestly priced snakes come in a few different phases.

As you probably guessed, the rosy boa bear live young. They are reportedly easy to breed. I think this snake is growing in popularity and will continue to do so over the next few years. They have a really smooth texture and a nice feel to their skin. In my opinion, it’s a one-of-a-kind snake. They are often called “North America’s gentle gems” for a reason. They make great pets for those who want a smaller boa. The rosy boa only reaches an average size of about three feet in length.

5. Hog Island Boa

The hog island boa is a dwarf among their South American brethren. If you’re looking for a mini-boa which resembles the giants, a Hog Island boa is for you.

Hog Island Boa
The Hog Island boa is a beautiful dwarf boa species.

They’re lighter in color and very docile. Although fairly common through the pet trade, their prices remain on the steep side. Central America offers several other dwarf boa species which separate by locality.

6. Redtail boa constrictor

The red tail boa or common boa constrictor is a long-time staple of the reptile industry and for good reason. These snakes are beautiful and captive-bred specimens are usually very docile. While they become pretty big, females only max out to about ten feet. That’s less than half the size of reticulated or Burmese pythons. 

Female Colombian boa constrictor

Needless to say, these snakes need a large enclosure when they reach adulthood. It’s important to know this when buying a baby boa constrictor. Nevertheless, they eat well and are easy to breed. When cooling these snakes during winter, only a slight drop in temperature starts the breeding process.

A big come back for the boa constrictor

The boa constrictor has made a big comeback in recent years. New morphs are now available and prices have become hefty for some of them. Do not power-feed these snakes. While I know it’s tempting, one must resist. Power feeding has negative effects on the snake’s health and shortens their lifespan.

A Central American boa is another dwarf species.
The Central American boa is a dwarf boa species.

After all, these are not Burmese or reticulated pythons. The common Colombian boa constrictor doesn’t get half the size these giants do. Full-grown adults should only be fed every 7 to 10 days at the most. Of course, it also depends upon the size of the prey item. Anyway, these boas are a reasonable alternative to keeping a Burmese, African rock, and reticulated python.

7. Spotted python

Last on our list is the somewhat underrated spotted python. Originating from Australia, captive bred specimens are slowly gaining popularity. They make a great alternative to the reticulated python and even the ball python in my opinion. 

The Australian spotted python
Spotted python

Only one other phase exists that I’m aware of. The granite phase is very attractive and priced higher than normal specimens. This is truly one of the most docile and gentle pythons I’ve ever kept.

On the other hand, I had a Children’s python who would constantly strike out and bite. It wasn’t that he was nervous and defensive, his bite was always the result of a food response. It’s very difficult to tame a snake who delivers and food response bite every time you attempt to handle it.

Conclusion

There’s a saying in the reptile industry, little snakes big money. There’s a big trend currently in place where dwarf reticulated pythons are becoming very popular. Still, the reticulated python seems more likely to bite than the other species I’ve talked about in this article. Dwarf species of boas are a great choice which requires less maintenance than the giants. 

Do you have some snakes to add to this list? Lets us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

7 boas and pythons that make the best pets

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