Breeding Boas

 

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Breeding Your Boa Constrictor

Boa Constrictor (Constrictor constrictor) Breeding Information 

One of the most commonly kept and bred of all snakes in captivity is the Boa Constrictor.  For the purpose of the information contained in this article we are going to be addressing Boas in general.  There are many recognized species and sub species of the Boa Constrictor, almost all have roughly the same breeding and gestation habits. 

If you are attempting to reproduce a specific subspecies some additional research may be required as insular species etc. do have slightly different requirements. 

In an effort to boost the retail value of offspring many pet shops, professional and amateur breeders, have overused the term "Red-tail" Boa to include virtually all species and subspecies of Constrictor constrictor.  The common, or Columbian Boa is the animal that is most often reproduced. 

The common availability of these animals in the pet trade as imports as well as with professional breeders who are disposing of offspring that did not meet unique pattern or color requirements has led to the Colombian Boa being the most common of all Boas that are reproduced. For the purpose of this article we will be using specific data obtained from the successful reproduction of several clutches of Colombian boas. 

As is the case with all mating attempts a healthy well fed male and female snake are critical to a successful mating attempt.  Age is another consideration as a Boa Constrictor can be grown to a sizable length without the required years of maturity to ensure the animal is sexually mature.  Over, or underfed female Boa Constrictors will both have great difficulty in successfully mating, and reproducing viable offspring. 

All Boa Constrictors are live bearers.  In general there is no need to have multiple males with this species but it is often a good idea to utilize several males in a breeding attempt until you are 100% sure the male you have is fertile and has reproduced in prior attempts.    Given the highly seasonal nature of breeding many snakes a missed opportunity due to an infertile, or unwilling male, will likely result in the loss of an entire year before another attempt can be made to breed the snake.

Obvious exceptions to this rule would include using a specific male who has a desired gene pattern for the reproduction of a specific trait such as albinism, aberrant color pattern or other highly desirable trait.  On some occasions an otherwise healthy male Boa Constrictor will show no interest in reproduction.   Males are generally not known to be aggressive to each other in Boa Constrictors and can often be housed together for extended periods of time. 

The introduction of the male to the females enclosure is recommended.   A cooling period of six to eight weeks prior to mating attempts will increase the chances of a successful mating.  There have been multiple successful matings however where no cooling period was utilized.  There is currently an ongoing debate over whether or not the cooling period actually hurts the chances of a successful mating, we at RainForest have had success using both methods, in fact some of more successful breeding occurred when we did not intend to intervene at all, and did nothing to change the environmental conditions the animals were housed in.

Male and Female Boa Constrictor Copulating

Copulation in the Boa Constrictor can last for up to several days at a time.  Males will repeatedly mate with the same female while she is receptive. 

Mating with Boa Constrictors generally occurs from mid November through late January, but this species is known to have successfully copulated in virtually all months of the year.  The gestation period for the Boa is not only difficult to gauge (long periods of copulation may last weeks) but also little understood with respect to the temperature/female weight/age of the female/??.  Some females have given birth in as little as 16 weeks while others have gone as long as 40 weeks.  On average it is widely accepted that 24 weeks is a normal gestation period for a healthy female boa. 

Temperature during gestation is critical, the range should be between 82-88 degrees.  High temperatures will produce both birth defects and deformed babies, low temperatures will yield the same results.  Humidity should be maintained at 65-85 percent. 

The newborn Boas will have a post-natal shed at about 10 days of age.  The babies will begin to feed on small mice (fuzzies and hoppers) immediately after shedding.  Baby boas are generally very good feeders.  The babies should be maintained separately if possible to ensure each young animal is receiving adequate food.  The babies should be fed every 4-7 days.  Optimal temperature and humidity requirements are the same as for gravid females.