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Columbian Rainbow Boa (Epicrates cenchria maurus) Care Sheet

Refer to the General Snake Care Sheet for more information on the basic keeping of Columbian Rainbow Boas before reading this section!

 

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Columbian Rainbow Boa Adult Picture

| Introduction | Fact Sheet | Columbians As Pets | Costs | Bare Minimum For Keeping | Captive Care Environment | Handling | Behaviour | Important | Feeding | Reproduction | Potential Health Problems | Books | Related Topics | References & Further Reading |
| Email This Page | Columbian Rainbow Boa Zoology |

Columbian Rainbow Boa Introduction:

The rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchria) is a popular species for both the beginner and the more experienced pet snake keeper and breeder. The species is divided into a number of subspecies, some of which are very common in captivity while others are extremely rare and probably not in captive collections anywhere in the world.

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Columbia Rainbow Boa Fact Sheet:

Common Name(s):

Columbian Rainbow Boa, Columbian or "Columbiaanse Reënboogboa" (Afrikaans).

Scientific Name: Epicrates cenchria maurus
Birth Size: -
Mature Size: 1.5 - 2.4 m / 5 - 8 ft
Colour Morphs: Only wild or normal coloured morph available.
Temperature: One side of the cage should reach at least 30 ºC / 86 ºF.
Brumation (hibernation): Yes
Danger To Man:

Although they have teeth they are not poisonous. As constrictors they can be quite strong and can be dangerous when the snake is put around a persons neck. Some captive kept specimens have proven to be nervous and will snap at the handler.

Life Span: 12 to more than 25 years.
Captive Care Food: Rats, mice, chicks and guinea pigs.
UV Requirements: None
Supplementation: No supplementation is necessary if prey is well fed.
Temperament:

Snappy but according to literature they are the most trustworthy of the rainbow boas and can become very tame.

Similar Species:

Brazilian rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchria cenchria), Argentine rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchria alvarezi), Peruvian rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchria gaigei), Isla Marajo rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchria barbouri)  and the so called Guyana rainbow boa, which is still unclassified, but is referred to as Epicrates cenchria crassus. Other snakes within the Epicrates genus include the insular Cuban, Haitian, Peurto Rican, Jamaican, Turks, Caicos, Berry Island and Bimini Boas. Some of these insular Epicrates are occasionally incorrectly called "Rainbow boas". 

Other: -


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Columbia Rainbow Boas As Pets:

Pros
As most other snakes Columbians are quiet, do not stink and one needs little effort to keep them happy. With the exception of hatchlings they normally feed only once a week to once every two weeks. Baby Columbians might need food more frequently. According to the literature they are the most trustworthy of the rainbow boas and should get totally tame. Columbians are relatively small in comparison with the other larger boa and python species.

Cons
Snakes are very shy creatures. Most snakes are happier when they are out of sight and Columbians are no exception. They are considered to be nocturnal, so they mostly come out at night. Hatchlings can be very small and it can be hard to get the correct food size. According to personal experience they can be a bit snappy. On average Columbians are a bit more expensive than your usual snake but in comparison with other boas they are quite cheap.

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Costs:

Because Columbian rainbow boas are relatively scarce in South Africa the price may become a bit expensive at times. A good price to pay for a Columbian is between R1 000 and R2 000 (2003-2005).

Always remember only to buy healthy animals from reputable pet shops and breeders. Make sure to buy animals that are captive bred in in your own country and that it is not illegally imported or caught from the wild.

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The Bare Minimum For Keeping Columbians:

Listed here are the minimum requirements to keep a Columbian. Refer to the General Snake Care Sheet for more information on the basic keeping of snakes before reading this section:

  • Large preferable high terrarium / snake cabinet
  • Correct size prey, live or frozen
  • Hiding
  • Large water bowl big enough for the snake to soak in
  • Warmish room or heating equipment
  • Some or other way to raise the humidity of the terrarium (i.e. a spray bottle or a mister)
  • If possible something to climb on

Initially plain newspaper can be used as substrate. Refer to the Suitable Substrates For Herptiles section for more info on suitable substrates for Columbian Rainbow Boas. Columbians like to climb so a higher or vertical orientated cage with a thick branch or something similar can be supplied. One side of the cage should reach at least 30 ºC / 86 ºF during the the day. In most parts a heat pad or any other heating equipment should be necessary. Refer to the General Snake Care Sheet and the Accessories & Other Stuff For Herptiles for more information on how to maintain the correct temperature and humidity range for these snakes.

Males can be kept separate or with one to three females in the same terrarium.

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Captive Care Environment:

Environmental temperatures for Columbians should be on the high side. One side of the cage should reach at least 30ºC / 86ºF during the day with a natural temperature gradient to the other side. A slight drop during the winter and/or during the night should not be a problem.

As Columbians are tropical species they need a relative humidity (RH) in the range of 60 to 100%. The RH can be increased by spraying the terrarium one to twice daily with a spray bottle or using modern humidifying equipment. The humidity can also be increased by placing a shallow water container with water over a heat pad or by adding a moist substrate like moss or vermiculite to the hide box. Some people also use soaked clay hide boxes for the same reason. A large enough waterfowl for snakes to completely soak in is also important for tropical species. A too low RH can lead to incomplete or partial sheddings. Refer to the Accessories & Other Stuff For Herptiles for more information on maintaining the RH of these snakes

Columbians also like to climb, so any thick branch, stump, rock or something similar can be supplied for this purpose.

The rest of the environmental factors are discussed in the General Snake Caresheet.

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Handling Columbians:

Rainbow boas should be no problem to pick up and handle. The problem however comes in with snappy ones, especially when it comes to approaching them. When picking up one of these snakes be quick about it and do not hesitate as it might upset the snake and give it enough time to get into "defending mode". When this happens either use something to press the head down and grasp the snake firmly behind the head or use a "snake-hook" or a snake grasping tool to pick it up.

When handling these snakes make sure the head is secured at all times. As with most boa species Columbians will tend to coil around the handler's arm. This makes handling a lot easier, but it can be tiring on one's arm. Care should be taken with handling larger snakes because of their larger size and strength.

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Columbian Rainbow Boa Behaviour:

Columbians are believed to be nocturnal (night dwelling). They are most active during the the hours of dusk and dawn. They also like to climb (aboreal).

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Important:

Columbian Rainbow babies should only be ready to sell after their first self caught meal (not force fed). Shedding should take place about two to five days after hatching after which they start to take food. Some people insist on seeing the skin and feed records before purchasing a snake.

When buying a new Columbian, note whether it is male or female, if possible, get the date of birth and get the snake’s shed- (if any) and feed records. When buying a new-born, try to take a look at the parents of the snake. This will give you an indication of what the baby will look when it is mature. In short, get as much as possible information from the seller. The more info you get, the better you will be able to care for it (if that person did not talk rubbish). If you are not sure about the behavior of the snake, call him/her, ask, ask and ASK!

If the seller can not give most of the above info, he or she is not worth to be called a breeder or a seller for that matter. In this case it is maybe better not to buy from this person!

When selecting a Columbian look for a well fleshed body, no visible cuts or abrasions, clear, alert eyes, tongue flicking, no signs of mites or ticks and a clean vent.

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Feeding Columbian Rainbow Boas:

Hatchlings will need day old pinkies and large adults can eat up to a few large mice or small rats. Tame Columbians should be good eaters but sometimes feeding them can be problematic. They tend to take food and then leave it again. Some Columbians refuse to eat unless they are in total privacy. Columbians should be fed in relative quiet conditions with as little as possible movements. It is VERY important to make sure your baby is a potential good eater!

Refer to the Reptile & Amphibian Feeding Problems section to see what to do if a Columbian refuses to eat.

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Columbian Rainbow Boa Reproduction:

Columbians are oviviparous, eggs hatch inside the female.

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Columbian Rainbow Boa Potential Health Problems:

Except for bites from mice, Columbians rarely have any health problems. A high relative humidity (RH) together with low ambient temperatures predispose boas to respiratory diseases where a low RH will lead to shedding problems.

Newly obtained Rainbow Boas should be quarantined for at least six months before they are introduced into an established snake collection. Refer to the General Animal Bio-security & Quarantine for more information on how and why to quarantine these snakes.

Columbian Rainbow Boa Books:

Shop at Kalahari.net
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"If you think I should add more information to this section, think that something is incorrect or you have any additional information regarding keeping of snakes, use the form below or go to our contact page to get in touch.  I would love to hear your ideas or methods you might use that is different than ours."

Last updated 17 May 2008 by Renier Delport

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"Always remember only to buy healthy animals from reputable pet shops and breeders. Make sure to buy animals that are captive bred in your own country and that it is not illegally imported or caught from the wild."

"If you've read something funny, or heard something that sounds out of place, use your common sense before applying. It is extremely important to do research from more than one source (before buying or accepting a new animal). Browse other internet pages, read related magazines and talk to experienced people."

Related Topics:

General Snake Care Sheet
Other Care Sheets
Columbian Rainbow Boa Zoology
Photoperiod & Brumation / Hibernation
General Animal Bio-security & Quarantine
Feeding Problems
Accessories & Other Stuff For Herptiles
Suitable Substrates For Herptiles

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References & Further Reading:

Bartlett, R.D. & Bartlett, Patricia P., 2002 Designer Reptiles & Amphibians. Barron's Educational Series U.S.

Bartlett, Patricia P. & Griswold, Billy, 2001 Reptiles, Amphibians & Invertebrates - An Identification & Care Guide. Barron's Educational Series U.S.

Miller, Stephan A. & Harley, John B., 1999 Zoology, Fourth Edition, WCB McGraw-Hill.

Mattison, Chris, 1998 Keeping & Breeding Snakes, Second Edition. Blandford.

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| Introduction | Fact Sheet | Columbians As Pets | Costs | Bare Minimum For Keeping | Captive Care Environment | Handling | Behaviour | Important | Feeding | Reproduction | Potential Health Problems | Books | Related Topics | References & Further Reading |
| Email This Page | Columbian Rainbow Boa Zoology |

 

 

 

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