How To Tell If A Boa Constrictor Is Dehydrated

Have you ever wondered if a boa constrictor drinks as much as it eats?

Are you a snake enthusiast, but worried about caring for such a large reptile properly?

If you are thinking about making the leap to and getting a boa constrictor, it’s essential to do a great deal of research beforehand. 

One of the most important questions to consider as you plan to become the parent to a boa is:

How can you tell if a boa constrictor is dehydrated?

Wrinkly skin is the easiest way to tell if a boa constrictor is dehydrated. Dented or cracked eye caps, an inability to shed, lack of elasticity of the skin, and constipation often follow dehydration. 

Read on to learn how to treat dehydration in your boa.

how can you tell if a boa constrictor is dehydrated

How Can You Tell If A Boa Constrictor Is Dehydrated?

This section covers the main signs to look for in boa dehydration. 

Wrinkled Skin/Skin Elasticity – Wrinkled skin is a symptom exclusive to dehydration. 

Many vets and experienced owners use the pinch test to see if their pet is dehydrated. 

Pinch the skin (lightly) and watch how fast or slow it goes back to normal. 

If it pops right back, they’re fine. 

If not, they need some water. 

Cracked Or Dented Eyelids – Lack of water affects the eyes early on. 

If something doesn’t seem right there, look for the wrinkly skin too. 

Inability to Shed – Without hydrated skin, the dead skin won’t fall off as easily. 

This causes big problems. 

Constipation – Boa constrictors pull moisture from their feces to hold onto water. 

This makes the droppings harder to pass. 

How To Treat Dehydration In A Boa

Boa dehydration is easily reversible if caught early and treated properly.

One of the most critical treatment methods is a warm electrolyte bath, which will ensure the boa absorbs the fluid it is lacking. 

Follow these easy steps as you prepare your boa’s bath:

#1 Set The Heater

Place an adequately sized heating pad under a plastic tub with a lid and set the pad to 82° – 84° degrees Fahrenheit (27° – 28° C).

#2 Fill The Tub

Fill the tub 1″ inch (2cm) deep with a solution of 75% electrolyte supplement and 25% water. 

It is important to use an unflavored electrolyte supplement, such as Pedialyte®.

#3 Warm The Water

Allow the water to warm up for 15 minutes, and then place the boa inside and close the lid. 

The boa should soak for 30 minutes to an hour.

#4 Clean The Boa

Clean the boa of any residue with a warm cloth and return to its enclosure.

This process should be repeated as necessary until symptoms improve.

If you do not see an improvement in symptoms, it may be time to contact a certified reptile veterinarian.

For more details on bathing, check out how to give a boa constrictor a bath.

Dangers Of Dehydration In A Boa

If you notice your boa is dehydrated, it is vital to treat it as soon as possible. 

While dehydration may not seem like a major health concern, it can lead to some severe complications.


When a boa is dehydrated, it cannot shed its skin properly, especially around the eye-caps. 

While the inability to shed its skin is uncomfortable in its own right, if the eye-caps cannot shed their skin, blindness may be an unfortunate result.

Fecalith Formation

While constipation is a typical result of dehydration, this usually proves traumatic for a boa constrictor.  

The result of constipation caused by dehydration in a boa is often the formation of a fecalith, a stone made of feces. 

This forms as a result of the boa holding onto its feces to absorb water from them. 

Once a fecalith forms, which is usually large and painful, surgery is the main treatment course. 

How To Prevent Dehydration In A Boa

It may be common sense to think your boa will never become dehydrated if there is enough water in its tank. 

While this is an important way to prevent dehydration, there are some other lesser-known things you could be doing.

Here are some additional ways to ensure your boa constrictor will never become dehydrated:

Keep The Boa In A Humid Environment

The standard climate of a boa constrictor is one of high humidity and moist conditions. 

The elevated levels of moisture in the air provide more than enough hydration for the boa. 

However, if the air is dry in a boa’s tank or enclosure, the reptile will become dehydrated. 

Feed The Boa Moist Food

Again, this comes back to the humidity of the boa’s environment.

Normally, a boa can get enough water through its skin and prey, which are always moist due to the humid conditions. 

Ensuring the food your boa consumes is not too dry will help prevent dehydration in a captive environment. 

Make Sure The Boa’s Water Source Is In A Secluded Spot

Boa constrictors are typically shy snakes and will avoid eating or drinking in an exposed environment. 

If your boa’s water source is in the middle of the tank, the snake will most likely refuse to drink. 

It is best to hide the water in a dark corner; the boa will feel more comfortable.

Keep The Boa’s Water Clean

In addition to being shy snakes, boa constrictors are also picky eaters and drinkers. 

While it is important to make sure your boa has tepid water available at all times, it is also essential to make sure there is no film of dust or dirt on the water’s surface. 

This may be hard to keep track of when the water is in the snake’s tank, but it is vital to regularly check and see if the water needs to be changed.

Keep Your Boa Moist

It is vital to keep your boa constrictor as wet as possible daily. 

While a humid environment will usually be enough for your boa, it can’t hurt to add some more moisture throughout the day. 

Lightly spritzing warm water on the boa or setting out some lukewarm water for the snake to soak in are two easy ways of accomplishing this.


This resource is here to help you with how to tell if a boa constrictor is dehydrated. 

Dehydration may not seem like a significant issue, but it leads to problems down the line if not treated promptly.

Luckily, keeping your boa constrictor hydrated and healthy is very easy. 

All you need is water and a lot of it!

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