Why does your boa constrictor refuse the occasional meal?
How do boa constrictors in the wild survive on very little food?
When a pet refuses to eat, it’s always stressful for owners.
But most of the time, it’s not a sign anything is wrong.
Then again, sometimes it is.
You need to know:
How long can a red-tailed boa constrictor go without eating?
In the wild, a red-tailed boa constrictor will sometimes go weeks or months without eating. In captivity, your boa may refuse an occasional meal or set of meals. At longest, it can go for three weeks without a meal. If your boa constrictor has not eaten for three weeks, contact your veterinarian.
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Wild Boa Constrictors
A boa constrictor may go weeks or months without encountering an appropriate food source or prey animal in the wild.
Fortunately, all snakes have evolutionary advantages which help them survive lean periods.
Snakes have slow digestive systems when compared to warm-blooded animals.
This means all meals will stay in the snake’s system longer, so they generally need to eat less frequently.
Snakes will lower their metabolic rates by up to seventy percent when they encounter periods of low food intake.
How Often Should My Boa Constrictor Eat?
In captivity, your snake will not have to worry about lean or starvation periods.
You, as their owner, will control how much and how often your snake is fed.
Usually, an adult red-tailed boa should be eating every week to ten days.
If your snake is a neonate, it should be eating more often, about every five to seven days.
Why Won’t My Boa Constrictor Eat?
Your boa constrictor may refuse the occasional meal.
This is common and even normal during specific periods of its life.
However, the refusal of two or more meals in a row could sign an issue.
Regular Periods Where Boas Eat Less
Your boa may refuse a meal if they are shedding.
This is normal among reptiles.
Wait until your boa is finished with this process before offering it a meal.
Gravid, or pregnant, boas do not eat regularly, either.
Boa pregnancies last about 120 days.
We recommend offering meals smaller than usual every two weeks.
The boa may still refuse them.
Mating season starts in early spring for boas, generally means a loss of appetite for both males and females.
Even if you are not breeding your boas, they may still instinctually stop eating or eat less.
The mating season will generally last from April to August.
This period is the dry season in the boa’s natural habitat.
If you have just brought home your boa constrictor, it may be experiencing relocation stress.
This is normal, and it will take some time for your boa to adjust to its new environment.
Do not handle your boa during this period, as this will cause more stress.
Wait a week after moving it into its new enclosure to offer it a meal.
If your boa refuses this meal, wait another week and offer it another.
The adjustment period for your new boa may last up to a month.
Contact your veterinarian if your boa is still refusing meals after a month in its new home.
Your boa will need heat to digest its meals, and if the environment is too warm or not warm or humid enough, there will be a loss of appetite.
Boas also rely on ambient humidity and soaking water for hydration, rather than drinking.
Dehydration will also interfere with your snake’s digestion.
Check the temperature and humidity of your boa’s enclosure.
You should have at least one thermometer and hygrometer in their enclosure.
An infrared temperature gun will help you spot check.
The ideal ambient temperature for a red-tailed boa enclosure is between 84-85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C).
In their basking spot, the temperature should be between 95-100° degrees Fahrenheit (35-37° C).
The ideal humidity for your boa should be between 40-60%.
Provide a hide for your boa to eat in.
A secure hide will help ensure it feels safe while eating and digesting its prey.
Some boa keepers will move an eating boa into a pillowcase after it has latched onto its prey.
Make sure you are cleaning your boa’s enclosure regularly.
Cleaning will help ensure there are no parasites, bacteria, or fungi, which could cause stress or infection.
If you have ruled out all other causes, your boa’s refusal to eat may be a sign of a severe issue.
If your boa is not an adult yet, a refusal to eat two or more meals signals, something is seriously wrong with your neonate.
Contact your veterinarian if you see other symptoms along with your boa’s refusal to eat.
Common problems include a bacterial infection of the digestive system, parasites, digestive impaction, or a respiratory infection.
Mouth rot, common among reptiles, may also be related to a refusal of food.
You should be weighing your boa about once a week.
If your boa is only refusing the occasional meal but keeping the same weight or gaining weight as a neonate, they should be all right.
If, however, your boa is consistently dropping weight and refusing to eat, contact your veterinarian immediately.
We hope this article has helped you in understanding why red-tailed boa constrictors sometimes refuse food.
A boa constrictor has evolutionary advantages to survive prolonged periods with little or no food in the wild.
Though it is essential to contact your veterinarian if your boa goes three weeks without a meal, there may be a simple explanation for why your boa does not want to eat right now.
You may need to wait for a little while before offering them a meal or change something in their environment.
Weighing them once a week will help you monitor their health and make sure nothing is seriously wrong with your boa.