Rosy Boa Care Sheet (Complete Guide)

The Rosy Boa – Charina trivirgata – is increasingly becoming more popular today because of how docile they usually are, and how easy it is to take care of this snake.

You can see a lot of beginner reptile owners starting out by taking care of Rosy Boas.

However, taking care of a Rosy Boa involves not only feeding them right but also making sure you are giving them a the right captive habitat, that is similar to what they experience in the wild.

That said, here is my guide about how to properly take care of a Rosy Boa, feel free to jump to any section by clicking on the table of contents below:

Enclosure

The first step to creating the perfect Rosy Boa environment is by choosing the right enclosure and cleaning it regularly because of the very fact that the enclosure will serve as its only habitat for perhaps 99% of its entire lifetime. 

Enclosure for new born & juvenile rosy boas

Rosy Boas give birth to live young, which means that you no longer have to wait for eggs to hatch.

The moment that the baby Rosy Boas are born, they are already big and sufficient enough to live on their own without relying on their mother.

Juvenile Rosy Boas, when born, are somewhere between 10 to 12 inches long already. That means that you should give the individual snakes their own enclosures.

baby rosy boa

I recommend the Exo Terra Short All Glass Terrarium because of how secured enough it is that Rosy Boas won’t be able to find small gaps where they could escape:

Exo Terra Short Terrarium (18x18x12)

  • Front access will stress your animal a lot less than enclosures opening from the top
  • Completely escape-proof
  • Well designed ventilation
  • Convenient inlets for heating cables, without any visible wires.

It also gives you openable front access that you can use in case you have a stressed-out young Rosy Boa that may end up biting if you try to get too close to it, especially when approaching from above (similar to predator behaviour in the nature).

It also comes with special inlets you can use to place heating elements without exposing the wires, which looks better and is safer.

Enclosure for Adult Rosy Boas

Rosy Boa owners tend to use the same enclosures for their snake since it was still a juvenile Rosy Boa. That’s because Rosy Boas tend to grow quick enough that you may want to keep it in an adult-sized enclosure the moment it is born.

Of course, it can be stressful for a snake if you allow it to adjust to a new environment or enclosure once again later on when it’s already an adult.

 

adult rosy boa head

For those looking for a fantastic adult Rosy Boa enclosure, I recommend this Repti Zoo Glass Terrarium:

ReptiZoo 50 Gallons Glass Tank (36x18x18)

  • Raised bottom frame for substrate heater
  • Completely escape-proof
  • Front access with independent doors for stress free handling & feeding time

At 50 gallons, it is more than enough to house more than one Rosy Boa. It comes with a secured lock, front access windows, and good ventilation that will allow your snake to live comfortably.

Meanwhile, it also allows you to install your heating elements easily.

Substrate

The substrate is one of the most important parts of the Rosy Boa’s entire enclosure or habitat because it provides them with a natural living space that is similar to what they experience in the wild.

Moreover, the substrate is also used for regulating the temperature and humidity in the enclosure, and provides a medium for your snake to burrow in if needed.

Your Rosy Boa will prefer any kind of substrate so long as you are not using a substrate that is too fine because it might get into its eyes or respiratory system.

You may want to use ZooMed Aspen Snake Bedding because it is easy to clean and comes from renewable sources.

ZooMed Aspen Snake Bedding

  • Easy to clean with a scooper and replace
  • No dust to cause respiratory problems
  • Snakes enjoy burrowing in it
  • Ecological product

But we do also like ReptiChip’s coconut husk (check it out here) if you prefer the look and feel.

The pros of using the ZooMed substrate are that it is environmentally friendly and easy to clean but it might end up becoming too fine for your snake. Meanwhile, ReptiChip isn’t fine but it might not be as easy to clean, or dig through as a finer substrate.

Whatever the case may be, please do add about two inches of the substrate to your Rosy Boa’s enclosure because these snakes prefer to burrow to keep themselves hidden because they can get quite nervous and likely to spend some time under the substrate.

Heating

Because Rosy Boas require places that are quite warm (since they are used to warm coastal and desert areas), you need to provide enough heat for your snake inside its enclosure.

Of course, you need a heat gradient inside the enclosure in the sense that there should be a warm side and a cooler side.

On the warmest side of the enclosure, the temperatures should be about 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, the cooler side of the enclosure should be around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

The best way to heat Rosy Boa’s enclosure is to add a heating pad on one side. That side should be the warmest part of the entire enclosure while the excess heat coming from the pad should put the cooler side at somewhere between 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can use this affordable heat pad for your Rosy Boa enclosure:

Tikaton Reptile Heat Pad

  • Only uses 8 Watts of electricity to operate
  • Power adjustable so you can use it in 10 up to 50 gallons enclosure.
  • Zero risk of burning your snake

Some people use a ceramic heating bulb to keep their Rosy Boa’s enclosure warm enough but I don’t always recommend that you do so because of it can dry up the entire enclosure faster than heat pads, can be a safety hazard if setup improperly, and consumes a lot more energy.

It is best to use a ceramic heating bulb if you live in a northern area with temperatures that are close to freezing. You would need to mist the enclosure amore frequently to increase the humidity, especially when shedding.

reptitemp digital thermostat

Of course, it is important for you to keep a thermostat inside the enclosure so that you will be able to monitor the warmth of the Rosy Boa’s habitat.

If it gets too hot, it will automatically turn the heating off.

Meanwhile, if it gets too cool, it will turn it on to maintain the right temperature, where you place the sensor (place it in the warm zone, and set the thermostat to the hot temperature of your gradient: 80 to 85 degrees F.

Zoo Med Reptitemp Thermostat

  • Built in memory stores settings in case of power failure.
  • Temperature control range: 50F to 122F
  • Very reliable & easy to setup

Use this thermostat if you want to have a great way of monitoring the enclosure’s heat as ZooMed ReptiTemp is very simple to use, yet it’s reliable and all you need from a good reptile thermostat.

Light

adult rosy boa's head

While some reptiles do require UV lights to become healthy, the Rosy Boa gets enough vitamin D from food.

As such, there is no need for you to use a UVB bulb for your Rosy Boa’s enclosure however a well lit enclosure is nice to look at, and you can use a neon bulb or a cool and affordable LED strip like this one if you want. 

Some keepers use a basking bulb that your snake can use when it wants to keep itself warm in the warmest side of the enclosure but make sure that you monitor the heat from the basking bulb really well and that it is not too close to the surface of the enclosure so as to prevent skin burns to your snake.

Shelter

Rosy Boas are reclusive snakes that prefer being left alone. In short, they like hiding because it allows them to feel safe and secure considering that they are not the largest snakes out there and can still have natural predators in the wild.

young rosy boa hiding in a coconut

This is why it is important for you to provide décor that can act as shelter for your Rosy Boa. You can use Zoo Med’s good looking Reptile Shelter to act as a rock or cave-like shelter for your snake:

Zoo Med Reptile Shelter 3 in 1 Cave, Medium

  • Easy to open and clean
  • Keeps humidity well for shedding

This one is easy to clean and open up, while looking good. But you can also use natural decorative pieces such as driftwood or large rocks, half a coconut, or anything that can act as shelter for your Rosy Boa.

Water

Rosy Boas need fresh water all the time but they do best when they do not have access to continuous water. The reason why they need fresh water frequently is that they need to keep themselves constantly hydrated in a warm and somewhat dry habitat.

Meanwhile, we recommend that you do not leave a constant source of water inside the enclosure because of how this can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

That said, you can add a fresh and clean water dish once every single day or maybe even once every two days. You can take the dish out at night and then replace it the next morning.

But make sure that you always clean the dish and put clean and fresh water in it. Always use natural disinfectants or mild dish soap to clean the water dish.

Repti Zoo Medium Water Dish

  • Made of resin: looks good and doesn’t easily tip over
  • Matches well most terrarium decors

For the water dish, I recommend the Reptizoo Reptile Food Dish above because it adds a nice natural touch to the entire enclosure.

Humidity

The truth is that Rosy Boas don’t thrive in somewhat humid environments because the coasts and deserts of California, Baja California, and Arizona tend to be quite dry.

However, that doesn’t mean that you should keep the entire enclosure completely dry.

You should still mist the enclosure well enough from time to time to keep the humidity at a level that is not too dry.

But make sure that the humidity levels are a bit higher when the snake is shedding because the extra moisture in the air will allow it to shed its skin better.

During a shed, it is good to use something like Sphagnum Moss to increase the humidity levels inside the Rosy Boa’s hiding place. It is best to add it inside the snake’s hiding cave.

Terrarium Sphagnum Moss

  • Long-Lasting: Long-Fiber and Leafy Green Sphagnum Moss
  • High Absorbency: Controls Tropical & Wetland Humidity
  • Sustainable: Ecologically Regulated Harvests

Enclosure Maintenance

Of course, in order to keep your Rosy Boa happy and healthy you need to make sure that it lives in a clean and sanitary environment so that the chances of germs, bacteria, and parasites causing diseases and health problems would decrease. And you can do that with proper enclosure maintenance.

Here are some cleaning tips that should be helpful for you:

  • Remove the snake from the main enclosure and house it a backup tank or have someone else handle it.
  • Remove any of the decorations and the substrate from the enclosure and spot-clean the entire tank.
  • After spot-cleaning, use a mild solution that is reptile-friendly. You may want to use a water and vinegar solution if you don’t have a reptile-safe non-toxic cleaning product on hand. Spray the enclosure with the product or solution and then wipe it off using a damp towel.
  • Dry the entire enclosure using a clean and dry towel. Leave the enclosure open to air-dry for about a day before you return the substrate and the decorations back inside. 
  • Return the snake once everything is back in order.

Meanwhile, as to the substrate, it is best to replace it about every 4 months or so to make sure that it is as clean as possible.

You can spot-clean the substrate if it hasn’t reached the 4-month mark yet but it is best to replace it once it has reached 4 months inside the enclosure.

Feeding

Feeding your Rosy Boa with the right kind of food at the correct sizes and feeding schedule will go a long way into making sure that your snake stays healthy and happy throughout its entire life.

In that regard, here are the things you should know about how to properly feed your snake.

Type and Size of Prey

One of the reasons why Rosy Boas are comparatively easier to take care of compared to other snake species is the fact that they are usually not too picky when it comes to food.

Rosy Boas will stay healthy and happy when fed a diet that only consists of domesticated mice.

However, if you want, you can mix the diet up with a few gerbils or hamsters every now and then.

Rosy Boas can thrive on a diet of frozen pinky mice because they are born already big enough to actually feed on these mice.

However, you have to wait until the first shed of the baby Rosy Boa before you feed it.

That may be somewhere between 7 to 10 days after it was born. From there, it is safe to feed your baby Rosy Boa with pinky mice by introducing it in its enclosure or by poking the snake a bit with its food using a pair of forceps or tweezers.

The bigger the juvenile Rosy Boa is, the larger its meal should be. 

Meanwhile, adult Rosy Boas should be able to thrive on full-grown domesticated mice. Most Rosy Boas would need about 30 grams of domesticated mice every meal.

This can be equal to a large domesticated adult mouse in most cases. As long as your snake is more than 170 grams, it is best to feed it with 24 to 30 grams of mice regardless of whether they may be adult mice or fuzzy mice.

Frozen vs. Live

There has been a lot of talk regarding whether you should feed your Rosy Boas with frozen food or with live prey. Still, there are some arguments that may end up leading you to lean towards frozen food. But let’s look at the different pros and cons of each argument.

For those who prefer to feed their snakes with frozen food, you are going to have an easy time storing them because you can simply keep the frozen mice inside a freezer that’s dedicated to your snake food.

rosy boa eating a pinky mouse

This allows you to have a constant supply of food for your snake. Frozen food is also safer for your snake because of the very fact that it won’t fight back (considering that they are already dead).

It is also more humane for you to feed your snake with frozen food because the rodents no longer have to suffer pain when fed to the snake.

On the other hand, there are Rosy Boas that are so used to their hunting instincts that they won’t readily accept frozen mice. It might take a few pokings for you to actually convince the snake to eat its food.

Meanwhile, live prey is easier to feed to your Rosy Boa because snakes are more accustomed to hunting for their food. So, as soon as the snake sees that the rodent is moving, it is more likely to try to gun it down itself in a way that seems natural for the snake.

However, there are a lot of cons regarding feeding your snake with live prey.

First off, rodents will try to defend themselves and may end up injuring your snake, which isn’t something you would want to happen to your Rosy Boa.

Second, storage space will be difficult for you if you prefer to keep live prey for your snake because you need to have a separate living space for your rodents (escape can also be a possibility for them).

And, finally, it doesn’t seem too humane for you to keep live rodents just so they can serve as food for your snake while suffering at the hands of your Rosy Boa.

All that said, it may seem better for you to lean towards frozen food even though they don’t seem to be quite natural for your snake to eat. But, after thawing the frozen rodents, all you need to do is to try to poke your snake using its food so that it will eventually accept it.

Sooner or later, your Rosy Boa won’t be as picky of an eater as it once was.

Feeding Frequency

Following a proper feeding schedule is necessary for your Rosy Boa because you don’t want it to become malnourished or underfed when you don’t feed it properly or too fat when you tend to overfeed it.

Baby Rosy Boas are supposed to be fed a lot more frequently because they need the extra calories for growing.

For younger and smaller Rosy Boa infants, feed them with a single pinky mouse every 4 to 5 days.

As the snakes grow bigger and older, you can increase the count to 2 pinky mice every 4 to 5 days.

You can slowly transition your juvenile Rosy Boas from about 2 or 3 pinky mice per meal to one fuzzy mouse. Feed a juvenile Rosy Boa a small fuzzy mouse every 5 to 6 days. You can increase the number of mice as the snake grows bigger and older but make sure to follow the same schedule.

Meanwhile, once the snake has reached adulthood, you should be feeding it with full-grown domesticated mice regularly.

Male Rosy Boas tend to survive longer without food compared to females as they may be able to go on without eating for 14 days.

However, make sure that you feed a male Rosy Boa with a full-grown adult mouse once every 7 to 14 days.

On the other hand, female Rosy Boas should be fed the same meal every 6 to 8 days because they tend to be bigger than their male counterparts and are going to go hungry faster.

Shedding

snake skin shed

Like most other snakes, Rosy Boas will continue to grow as they age. That means that they need to shed their skin so that they can grow new skin to accommodate their growing bodies. As such, expect your Rosy Boa to shed maybe once every 3 months depending on how fast it grows. 

The best kind of environment to provide a snake when it is shedding is a stress-free environment that has enough humidity. Rosy Boas that are shedding prefer to hide so that they will feel secure under such a stressful time.

That’s why hide boxes or caves are necessary for shedding snakes. Meanwhile, increase the humidity of the enclosure by spraying it more frequently because the extra moisture in the air will allow the Rosy Boa to shed its skin painless.

Always check your snake to see if has already peeled all of its skin. You would know that your snake was able to peel its skin properly if the peeled-off skin is more or less intact and was not peeled in increments.

Remove the shed skin as soon as possible to prevent any infections.

Meanwhile, there are some cases when there is unpeeled skin around the eyes of the snake. You may allow the snake to shed that part off by increasing the humidity in the enclosure.

However, because unpeeled skin can cause infections and other issues, you may want to remove it yourself by gently handling the snake and using clean hands to peel the skin off.

Rosy boas that are at the end of their shedding season are more receptive to getting handled because they have already peeled off most of their old skin.

Hibernation

rosy boa hibernating

Rosy Boas often experience winters in the wild because they live in America, where winter will happen at the end of the year. That’s why it is normal for Rosy Boas to hibernate during the winter, which should last for about 10 weeks. 

However, in captivity, we do not recommend that you allow your Rosy Boa to hibernate because there is no need for them to do so unless you want them to breed.

Hibernation should only be promoted if you want to breed your Rosy Boas after they wake up from hibernation.

But if you don’t want your snake to hibernate, keep the temperatures up during the winter. 

Still, you will notice a bit of inactivity from your snake during winter due to the reduced light cycle and the temperature changes. It is quite normal for the Rosy Boa to look quite tired and less likely to eat during winter.

Handling your Rosy Boa

rosy boa in a beginner's hands

Rosy Boas are very easy to handle because these snakes are docile and a lot calmer compared to other snake species. They rarely even bite at all and are more likely to submit to your handling once they have already gotten used to the environment. Here are some tips on handling a Rosy Boa:

  • Don’t handle a Rosy Boa that is still adjusting to its new environment.
  • If you notice that your Rosy Boa is looking stressed, don’t try to handle it. This includes the time when it is pregnant or is shedding.
  • Handle your Rosy Boa maybe a few hours a week for proper socialization.
  • Don’t handle a Rosy Boa maybe two days before and after eating.
  • Allow the Rosy Boa to have a bit of freedom in your hands while you are handling it. A tight enough grip will scare it and cause it to musk you. But be sure to have a grip firm enough to prevent it from dropping to the ground.

Common Issues

Why isn’t my Rosy Boa eating?

A Rosy Boa that isn’t eating may be suffering from an illness or a disease or is not used to eating frozen food. Try taking it to the vet if there are signs of illnesses or diseases. If there aren’t any, try poking it with its food using a pair of forceps.

I also have a more complete article about the reasons why your rosy boa may not want to eat.

Why did my Rosy Boa regurgitate its food?

If your Rosy Boa is healthy and it regurgitated its food, it only means that you gave it more food than it could handle.

Are Rosy Boas prone to respiratory problems?

Like any reptile, the Rosy Boa is prone to respiratory problems if you allow it to live in an environment that is a bit too cold or humid for it. Keep the temperatures steady and make sure that the enclosure isn’t too humid for the snake.

Final Words

Rosy Boas are fun snakes, there are great rosy boa morphs available and they may be easier to take care of than other snake species but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t know the basics of how to take care of them.

This is why following this guide will make you a responsible pet owner for your Rosy Boa. But if you do have some questions and opinions, feel free to leave them in the comment section so that I can get back to you as soon as I can.

Sources

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