Important note:

Beside the undisputed benefits, the drawback of the internet is that due to the networking misinformation that sends an entire community in the wrong direction can be established as well. A good example for this is the feeding schedule of boid snakes. The overfeeding of boas in captive husbandry has spread like and epidemic during the last 10 years. Yearlings weighing more than 1 kg are common. We can also tell the tale of a 3 year old (!!!) female boa constrictor who delivered almost 50 (!!!) infertile eggs and some stillborn boa babies. Until then we thought it impossible to feed a boa in a way that (in theory) enables her to have 50 babies at the age of 3. The same is true with a boa male at the age of 5 who weighs more than 8kg (normal average weight is 3 kg). It seems that the hobby of these boa keepers is boa-feeding rather than boa breeding.

Meanwhile this “Turbo – feeding” has become a standard. Moreover, boa keepers who stick to a normal feeding schedule are facing hostility from the boa fatteners. Many a customer, who heeds our suggestions reports reproaches from this circle true to the motto “the boa is way too small”, “give the animal larger prey items”, “the boa should have thrice the weight it has” and so on and so forth…

Several times some of our customers have yielded to the pressure and abandoned the tried and tested feeding schedule that we strongly suggest. In most cases this leads to problems like regurgitation or diseases. One time it even had cost the life of a boa. A rueful and distraught customer reported that a too big prey mouse slit the stomach of the boa open with its chisel teeth during the process of being swallowed. This isn’t an assumption, but the result of the autopsy performed on the dead boa by a vet.

Bottom line: The application of the common feeding schedule that is practiced by most of the boa keepers in these parts results in infertile, sick and obese boas with a short life expectancy.  

Quotation of a vet: 90% of the boas that end up on my autopsy table have fatty livers to a degree that would suffice for the transplantation listing if they were human beings.

Do the fools who apply such a feeding schedule to boas actually believe that the table in the wild is set just approximately?

Mind you, our opinion regarding the correct feeding schedule for boas is shared by any expert for boid snakes, such as reptile vets, zoologists, field herpetologists and seasoned breeders.

Please note: Boa constrictors of an age of 1 – 2 years who were fed correctly are still small, but fit as a fiddle and you can still watch them grow up!



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How does the snake eat?

If you open the mouth of your beloved boa and take a look inside (which should be done every now and then), you will notice fine teeth that are certainly not suitable for chewing prey.

The teeth of boas serve the purpose of detaining prey and to keep it from escaping.

Boa constrictor sits in a hide spot or on a branch, and waits for a careless prey animal that enters its reach. The snake then strikes with lightning speed, (ideally) grabbing its victim by the head, coiling it, and using an incredible amount of strength to subdue it.

The pressure makes it impossible for the prey animal to breathe. Several factors come to play: the shock of the sudden strike of the snake, the immense pressure on the body, which especially affects the vascular system, and the resulting death by suffocation.

Typical signs for this are the wide opening of the mouth (gasping for breath), the blue-colored tongue (zyanose), and an erection in male rats.

Anyone who has witnessed this once, will (unless there is a tendency to sadism) refrain from feeding live prey animals in the future. But more about this later..

Once the boa does not detect any further signs of life from its victim, it losens its coils and unhooks its teeth from the fur of the prey animal.

After this, the snake flicks its tongue intensively at the prey, which serves the purpose of activating the digestion fluids. In a sense, the snake is salivating at this point.

While some boas enjoy this pleasure of anticipation for a half hour or longer, others begin swallowing the prey right away.

The prey is swallowed head first, and occasionally with the rear end first.

Boids are able to open the mouth as wide as the skin will stretch. This is because of they are lacking a jaw joint. The jaw bones are locked only by tendons and muscles.

During the swallowing process,  the boa alternately pushes both sides of its mouth over the prey, causing it to get continuously deeper into the throat of the snake. Once it reaches the osophagus, peristalic movements of the osophagus muscle are responsible for further transportation to the stomach.

This way, our boa can swallow animals of such impressive size, that many would be willing to bet their last buck that the snake would be unable to do so beforehand.

Brazilian redtail Boa c. constrictor

feeding a rabbit