You may be wondering:
How much does a Red Tail Boa cost?
A male neonate or juvenile red tail boa will cost anywhere from $200 to $400 in the current pet market, with a little extra on top if you pick yours up at a reptile show. After all, vendors have to make a little more for their gas and time at the show.
This is a pretty cheap entry-level snake for most interested parties. The thing is, the cost of the actual snake alone isn’t the big price tag; it’s everything else you need with it.
So, what does that end price tag really look like? How much can you expect to spend on your red tail boa from the time you get it until 30 or so years from then when it’s likely that it passes away (most live around 30 years)?
Let’s take a look at some figures.
Starting Up Costs
Most red tail boas will cost $200-$400 but their initial set up equipment is going to be around 2-3x this price if you want a pretty, large vivarium that’s as natural as possible for your new snake. You can also lean toward the more frugal or the “bare minimum” approach.
Let’s start off with the absolute basics. For a neonate red tail boa, you’re going to need a 20 gallon long aquarium (which you will be resting on its side; never approach snakes from above if at all possible; ambush predators do not like that).
If you can find these during a certain pet store chain’s wonderful $1 per gallon sale, you’ll only be out $20 for the enclosure. Otherwise, you’re looking at $40-$50. A screen for the opening side and the clips necessary to keep it on will cost another $30 or so; pay the extra few dollars and get the hinged version of the screen. It’s so much easier to work with.
Next, you’re going to look for substrate. The ideal substrate for a red tail boa is cypress mulch. This costs around $15 for the appropriate amount for an enclosure like this.
You’ll also need a source of heat, a UVA basking light, a water bowl, two hides, hygrometers, thermometers, a controller for your heat source, and food.
If we’re going with the absolute basics for these items, you will probably see a price tag of around $250 (all inclusive). This should include food for the snake for a couple of months.
Total starting up cost for the cheapest way to keep a red tail boa: nearly $400.
How much it costs to feed a Red Tailed Boa
As your red tail boa grows, you’re going to need larger and larger prey items. A rabbit every week or every other week is going to sting, though perhaps not as bad as a premium bag of dog food every week.
If you don’t mind euthanizing them yourself, you can probably find them on your local craigslist in an appropriate size for $10-$20 per rabbit. Otherwise, most online frozen rabbit producers are in the area of $25-$30 per rabbit; not including shipping.
Keep in mind as well that recent studies show it is better to offer various prey animals to snakes. A rabbit will keep your red tail boa happy and healthy, but it’s much like you eating a nutrient paste; it may have everything you need, technically, but a variety of foods is better.
A large guinea pig or a small chicken is recommended now and then for your red tail boa at adult weight and length.
Additionally, you’ll have to upgrade that 20 gallon tank. An 8 foot red tail boa requires a pretty large space and with that comes a hefty price tag.
If you decide to build a snake box yourself, you can save a good bit of money; but this requires you to be handy (and, speaking as your author, I am not- I buy my snake boxes).
A 6x2x2 snake box is the absolute minimum for adult red tail boas and are pretty hard to find. Expect to pay custom box prices or, as I said, make your own.
This does not include climbs, hide upgrades, and general cleaning supplies. In all honesty, you will be out thousands of dollars before you lose your snake but it is well worth it to keep such a beautiful, impressive animal in the peak of health.
Red tail boas are pretty healthy snakes, though they sometimes get respiratory infections and are a little sensitive to some certain substrates. As well, there are some red tail boas that simply never need to see a veterinarian until they are getting close to the end.
Before purchasing your red tail boa, go ahead and speak with your local reptile veterinarian. See what they have to say and ask for a price list of common issues they’ve seen in red tail boas in your area. Ask about their long-term understanding of the species and if they’ve ever even seen one before, as some veterinarians may not have had the pleasure of doing so.
This brief meeting with your vet should not cost more than an office visit (usually $60-$100) and, if the vet is hesitant to answer your questions, Go. Elsewhere.
Reptile veterinary care is far more difficult than mammalian veterinary care and any vet who is unwilling to learn or does not know how to work with reptiles does not need to learn with your pet’s life in the balance.
Ultimately, a red tail boa is a mid-range expense in terms of snake care. These animals are perhaps not the cheapest in the reptile kingdom, but they are far from being the expensive sort, too.
Again, we’ve said before; these are the ideal step up from corn snakes, rat snakes, and ball pythons and into a slightly harder (and larger) species for advanced beginner keepers to intermediate keepers.
For healthy snakes and 30+ years of keeping, in today’s prices you will probably spend $10,000-$20,000, depending on how extensive you make your enclosure and how much you pay for your prey animals.
Not bad for a slithery friend of three decades.