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Colombian Boa Constrictor

Common Boa, Colombian "Red Tail" Boa

Family: Boidae Columbian Boa, Boa constrictor imperator, Common BoaBoa constrictorPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Chrissy Thomas
Latest Reader Comment - See More
Hello, my name is Chrissy and I myself own a 6ft RTB. His name is Alice (after Alice Cooper,named before I owned him). I would like to share with everyone Alice's... (more)  chrissy

   The Colombian Boa or Common Boa has an exotic appearance, and is considered by many to be the most beautiful of the constrictors.

   This attractive snake is desirable because it is readily tamed and easy to maintain. The captive born and raised Colombian Boas are usually very docile. They can easily be kept by a beginner as well as the experienced herptile keeper. Very young snakes are delicate and subject to illness so look for small adults.


Dr. Jungle says... "What's in a name? Lets hear from the expert....!
Picture of a Columbian Boa or Common Boa
Boa constrictor imperator
Photo © Animal-World: David Brough

"The Boas that we see imported by the thousands from Colombia are not True Red Tailed Boas as they are Boa c. imperator which is found West of the Andes Mountains.

"These Colombian boas are considered to be non red tailed (although they do possess a red tail). They are instead referred to as "Common Boas " or Colombian Boas.

"True 'Red Tailed' Boas are the nominant race, Boa c. constrictor. The True Red Tailed Boas are the boas found East of the Andes Mountains in South America (Surinam, Guyana, Brazil, Peru, etc. ).  They get much larger than Colombian Boas and have very deep red tails." ...Vin Russo

Vin Russo is one of the top breeders and most well-respected boa experts in the United States Cutting Edge Herpetological Inc.

For more Information on keeping Snakes see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Herptile

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Boidae
  • Genus: Boa
  • Species: constrictor


   The Colombian Boa or Common Boa is found throughout a large range of South America. They are found in Colombia of course, but also in Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Hogg Island, Venezuela, and more.


   The Colombian Boa constrictor will grow to between six and nine feet, though they can reach up to 12 feet. The males are smaller than the females. This snake is robust, with a triangular head separated from the body by a thin neck.
   Their natural coloring is a pattern of elongated, saddle like, pale gray patches on a background of rich chocolate to almost chestnut brown. The sides are paler with dark brown, diamond shaped spots that have white centers. The undersides are yellowish, spotted with black. The chestnut brown coloring becomes progressively brighter until it is a brick red or pure red, and they are thus sometimes called the 'Colombian Red Tailed Boa'. This name is a bit misleading as the True Red Tail Boa Boa c. constrictor, is the nominant race. (See the box above.)


    They are a constrictor and their diet consists of mice, rats, small rabbits and the large snakes can also eat chickens. Feed once or twice a week, depending on the size of the food and the size of the snake. As you get to know your snake, you'll learn what its feeding needs are. Fresh water in a good size water dish should always be available.


   These snakes are best kept singly except when they are being bred, but you may be able to keep them with other snakes the same size as long as you feed them separately.
   The Colombian Boa constrictor needs a good size cage. Its' housing can be set up as a woodland type terrarium, but keep the decor to the minimum. See the terrarium set-ups described under Basic Reptile and Amphibian Care for more information. A good size water dish will provide moderate humidity as well as a place for soaking and drinking. A heavy limb for climbing on, resting on, and to aid in shedding makes the perfect decor.

Temperature and Lighting requirements:

   They do well at 82° to 95° F in the daytime and 72° to 80° F at night. Full spectrum lighting is important for your snakes well being and its long-term maintenance. You can use a substrate heating device for basic heating. For additional heat, you can add a full spectrum incandescent daytime bulb and a blacklight bulb or red incandescent bulb for nighttime heating. Be sure you use a thermometer so you don't let the terrarium become overheated!

Bolivian Amarilli Boa, Boa constrictor amarali
Bolivian Amarilli Boa Boa constrictor amarali Photo © Animal-World: Courtesy Greg Rothschild

   For more detailed information see the Basic Reptile and Amphibian Care: Housing.


   These snakes, if not babies, need to be probe sexed for positive sex identification, and they bear live young. Their gestation period can range from four to six months. The litters are large with up to 30 babies, each about 24 inches (61 cm) long and resembling the coloring and patterning of their parents. They are fairly easy to breed in captivity.


  The Colombian Boa constrictors or Common boas are very common and readily available due to captive breeding.

Author: Clarice Brough, CRS
Lastest Animal Stories on Colombian Boa Constrictor

chrissy - 2010-01-14
Hello, my name is Chrissy and I myself own a 6ft RTB. His name is Alice (after Alice Cooper,named before I owned him). I would like to share with everyone Alice's and my story. I have owned Alice for 2 1/2yrs Back in April he was attacked by a rat (his food) very badly. The rat ate 6 quarter sized holes in his body about 1/4 inch deep. I took him to the vet immediatly, while the doctor tended to his wounds and told me he would heal in time we returned home. Alice became very sick about a week later. He would barely move, and became very weak so we returned back to the vet. The vet pushed for him to be put down. As I sat there in the room holding him crying I said to him " I love you please dont leave me, you need to fight" with that being said he began to move his head from my lap up to my neck. I knew then that we were going to fight and I then refused to give up, because in my heart and what he showed it wasnt time to say goobye. I began mixing vitamins up to put in a syringe and force him to eat 4 times a day. I would soak him in the bathtub pick his scabs clean and put ointment on his wounds 2 times a day. We did this for 3 months everyday. There were many times I thought he wouldnt make it and came very close to loosing him. I would fall asleep holding him and when I awoke he would be right there either under the blankets with me or laying on my chest. Never once in all this medical attention did he ever show any signs of aggressiveness but I knew he was in pain. I would give him a little childrens tylonal before the baths to help ease the pain while I cleaned his wounds. Then the day came and he began to get stronger and show approvement. It was amazing! I then knew there was hope and let nature now take its course! Alice stopped eating for 8 months after that attack that really worried me that he would starve to death. Today he is eatting like a pig lol i guess to make up for the 8 months he went without. He is a very healthy, lovable, beautiful, boy. I have taken him back to his vet and they are amazed at how he has recovered. Him and me have a very close loving relationship and built a unbreakable bond. Our friends and family call him a spoiled mama's boy, but to be honest I wouldnt have it any other way!

  • Nicole Templeton - 2010-02-23
    I am purchasing two rtb's for my two oldest children this weekend. Both have wanted a snake for quite some time and everything has finally come together to make it possible. The man we are purchasing them from is quite the expert on snakes and one of the first things he told us was to always feed frozen rats never live ones. My children did not really understand why (they didn't really care about feeding frozen vs live but were just curious as to the why). I plan on reading your story to them to help them understand the why. We are just learning about snakes and rely on stories like yours to guide us in our exciting adventure we are undertaking. We (the human members) are overjoyed to be adding Isis and Sekhmet to our happy family. Thank you for sharing your experience and I'm so glad to hear that Alice is doing well.
  • Patrick - 2010-03-29
    Hi, my boa suffered from the same nasty attack and I'm still under the treating process. I have a few questions, did the wounds heal completely? ( like is it traceless?) Also, how is his temperament? Did it change? Please email me: Thanks! If you have before and after pictures, that would be great! =)
  • jim - 2010-06-08
    Why on earth did you feed live? Never feed live - I have seen so many people lose their snakes that way - glad you're all doing better - I hope others learn from this- Jim 845 598 0585
  • Russ - 2010-06-16
    Crissy, I just read yours and alice's story. Very touching and glad he is doing great now, I started to tear up reading that he almost died. Again I am glad that he is ok and hope you two have many years together.
  • Destiney - 2010-07-17
    Your story is very touching and I feel the same way you do! Snakes have been an all time favorite of mine I owned my first boa when I was 6 and loved him. I now own 9 and am 19 years old. I believe every animal in this world deserves the same love from humans just as much as dog cat etc. And after I read your story I don't feel alone at what I think. I wish you and alice the best in life and health!
  • jackie - 2010-07-19
    I think that is the most amazing story. I love animals, and at ths point I'm waitin for my friend to pick me up to go get a baby girl boa who I fell in love with. I send loads of love to alice and to you.
  • Anonymous - 2010-10-22
    Red tail boas are cool.
  • Patrick Dugan - 2010-12-17
    Don't feed live animals to captive boas....I inherited a 6 foot boa that was bit twice by a rat.....he is healthy now and we only feed him frozen (thawed) rats and he eats them without hesitation....also live mice and rats can spread mites and other pestilence to your expensive snake.
  • Trevor - 2011-01-10
    Here's a good example why you shouldn't feed rtb live food, and if you do, do not leave the rodent with the snake without supervision.
  • brandon - 2011-01-21
    That's wassup I started not to read your story but I'm glad I did my snake falls to sleep with me too and wakes up wrapped around my ARM so I can relate.
  • ruby - 2015-03-15
    I got 2 ball pythons and a female redtailed boa for sale for $215.00 cash. My number is 918-470-9498.
  • robert - 2015-12-15
    Had you olded your Snake anything prier to rat bite?
  • Violetmoon - 2016-07-31
    well this story broke my heart. Thank the Gods Alice made it!!He sounds incredible and so do you Chrissy!!
kb - 2008-06-26
My rtb, Forbes, is the best snake ever. He will be 3 in July and has never even attempted to bite. I have even needed to clean bedding out of his mouth with no problems from him, and he doesn't mind dogs sniffing at him when he crawls on the floor. He will lay on me for as long as I will rub him - but I can definitely see a difference in his interaction with me as opposed to anyone else.
My boy is very spoiled and he loves it. I take him out of the cage nearly every single day, and he goes swimming and takes drives with me in the summer. I will be sad when he is just too big for me to handle alone. We are in the process of having a floor to ceiling enclosure built for him.
A lot of people ask how big will he get or how long will he live, and when I tell them, the reaction is usually 'what are you going to do with him then?' I'm going to keep him, of course! These reptiles are a true commitment and should not be a short term novelty to 'show-off'. Before purchasing one, be prepared to handle them regulary for many, many years - intentions otherwise are just not fair to them.

  • Ernest Williams - 2011-09-23
    You should never let an RTB on your floors,unless you have just cleaned the floors with a pet safe cleaner. You should also not ware shoes that have worn outside,while you are in your house. You should never let animals near your RTB. You should take a shower before handling your RTB. Captive bred RTB have a poor immune system. It's very common for a young Boa to die from parasites just because the owner was reckless and careless enough to not take all precautions before feeding or handling there snake.
  • Victoria - 2013-08-02
    You can clearly tell that you care for your big boy, and glad to hear you'll give him a great LONG HEALTHY LIFE.
  • robert - 2015-12-15
    Have you had him its whole life.
Boots - 2014-06-07
My RTB was very quickly moving towards our sleeper sofa's 'innerds'. Knowing he'd probably disappear in there close to forever - like an idiot I engaged in a tug of war w this 5-1/2' young adult 'strength-o-meter'. I, of course, lost. After finally getting him out by other methods, he seemed more still than usual, so I was it possible to pull on a snake too hard and injure it? Please advise. Thanks.

jeremiah salahub - 2013-10-30
can anyone help me identify my snake....

  • Clarice Brough - 2013-11-01
    We may be able to help you Jeremiah, but will need good pictures. Register through Facebook and then you can upload your pictures for us to look at.
Ernest Williams - 2011-09-23
I just discovered after buying 100 mini-pinkies for $65,that my 3 foot baby rtb would not eat them. They are to small for him to consider as prey. I ordered them from Big Apple Pet Supply. I did not have $75 to order 25 rat pups from Big Apple Pet Supply. I looked for another supplier and found Layne They have more options in order size 10 a time for most of they mice and rats. They also 25,50,100,500,1000 order sizes. I bought 10 rat pups for $49.24,a big price difference. I like the 10 a time option. I can step up the rat size every 2 months,if I need to keep up with his growth. The rat pups are still a tad small for him,but with in minutes of me offering one to him,he ate it. I will order 10 weaned rats from Layne next time at $47.34. I would hate to waste the 99 mini-pinkies that are left I will sale them for $40 to any one in the west Atlanta area,you can reach me at

  • chris - 2012-12-26
    I've owned and deal with all types of snakes. Your 3ft boa should be on small too medium size rats. He or She should be eating 2 smalls or 1 meduim once a week or every 2 weeks. Rats are better for them its makes the snake healthy. Then full grown it will be eating super & or mega jumbo rats or rabbits what ever you deside
Ernest Williams - 2011-09-23
I just bought a year old from Boas and Balls. I payed $215 for him, I named him Agent Orange. He is active and healthy looking,he eats well. I love his cream/orange body color,orange/brown saddles and red/orange tail. They still some of his brothers and sister for sale at $150-550. He 3 feet long is that small for 1?

  • Anonymous - 2011-09-24
    He will get bigger thats for sure. How big are the brothers and sister?