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Feeding

Feeding of Boas

Making sure your boa gets the nutrition he needs is a very important part of maintaining his overall health, and his growth rate is directly connected to what he is fed and how often he is fed. It is a good idea to offer your snake several small items as opposed to one large one. The larger his food is, the more likely it will be regurgitated. As a general rule, a boa’s food shouldn’t be much longer than two or three times the width of his head, or no wider than the snake’s mid-body girth.

How often to feed depends upon your snake’s metabolism, but juvenile boas should always be fed more often than adult boas. Your boa should be at least a little hungry before he is fed (one indication of hunger is increased activity), so if he shows no interest at all in the prey, you may want to hold the meal off for a while. It is common for juvenile boas to be fed twice a week, older boas once a week, and adult boas once every week to three weeks. Both overfeeding and underfeeding can be dangerous to a boa. You should never feed so often that he becomes obviously overweight, and you should never feed so rarely that he becomes underweight.

Boas eat a wide variety of prey, including mice, gerbils, rats, rabbits, and chickens. You will have to decide whether to feed your boa live or pre-killed food. Generally, a boa will kill its prey by constriction. He will bite the prey to hold it in place and get it into position. He will then wrap himself around it and tighten his grip on it every time the animal exhales, eventually suffocating the prey. Then the boa will grasp the prey’s nose and begin swallowing it, head first. They do not chew their prey, but rather swallow it whole.

All snakes should be willing to accept live prey, as this is the form of food that is most natural for them. Monitor the feeding situation closely, however, as live prey can injure your boa. If he does not eat within one hour of the food’s introduction, remove the prey from the cage and try again in a few days.

Pre-killed prey is often considered to be the more humane type of food. Pre-killed prey is frozen and must be thawed to room temperature before feeding it to your boa. Some snakes are unwilling to accept frozen prey, but they may possibly by enticed if you hold the prey with a pair of tongs (never with your hand!) and gently wiggle it in front of them. Once he is interested, a snake will generally strike at frozen prey and go through all the motions of killing it before actually eating it.


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