Do boa constrictors need to eat every day?
Are you worried about overfeeding or underfeeding your boa?
As the boa constrictor owner, it’s essential to know the appropriate amount of food for your snake.
Along with what to feed it and how to feed it, you may be wondering:
How often do I feed my boa constrictor?
Boa constrictors will eat anywhere from once every five days to once every two months. A young boa constrictor needs to eat more frequently than an adult, and an appropriate feeding schedule will vary depending on an individual snake’s needs.
Read on to learn more about feeding guidelines and how to tell whether you have a good feeding schedule for your snake.
What Do Boa Constrictors Eat?
Boa constrictors are carnivorous, opportunistic hunters.
They eat whole animals to get the nutrients to live and thrive.
Their prey could be pretty much anything they come across and can physically eat: rodents like rats and mice, rabbits, and small birds like chicks and quail are often on their menu.
Frozen prey is the most reliable and safest thing to eat for boa constrictors in captivity.
We highly recommend not feeding your boa live prey because live prey fights back.
There are many instances of pet snakes being seriously or fatally injured by their prey.
Most Nutritious Prey
Mature adult prey is much more nutritious for snakes than younger prey.
For example, it’s better to feed newborn boas an adult mouse than feed them a baby rat.
How Often Do I Feed My Boa Constrictor?
When you first bring a boa constrictor home, don’t feed it for the first five to seven days.
The snake is stressed during this transitional period.
It needs time to acclimate to its new environment.
How Often Should I Feed My Baby Boa Constrictor?
A newborn snake (0 to 6 months old) will need to eat around every five to seven days.
A juvenile snake (6 to 12 months old) will probably begin to eat a little less frequently, around every five to 10 days.
And if you’re looking for more information, read our post on how to feed baby boa constrictors.
How Often Should Adult Boa Constrictors Eat?
Intermediate or adolescent snakes (1 to 3 years old) don’t need to eat as often as babies.
Meals can occur a couple of times a month, in the 12 days to three weeks range.
Adult snakes beyond three years old may need to eat (or prefer to eat) even less, with anywhere from three to eight weeks between meals.
What Is Erratic Feeding?
Erratic feeding is a good thing for snakes.
To feed your snake erratically:
- Vary the type and size of prey (appropriately)
- Vary how you provide the prey to your snake (hide it for them to find, wiggle it with tongs to mimic motion)
- Randomize the time of day and day of the month
- Occasionally skip a feeding.
Erratic feeding mimics a snake’s experiences of eating in the wild.
Your boa constrictor will better respond to feeding time, and it will be more active in the cage because it feels like it’s hunting.
How Can Boa Constrictors Eat So Infrequently?
It is healthy for a snake to eat less often.
Snakes have a much slower metabolism than many other animals.
They evolved for surviving in sometimes-harsh conditions in the wild, where they may not eat for weeks at a time.
How Can I Tell If My Boa Constrictor Is Eating Enough?
Suggested feeding schedules for boa constrictors have a lot of variety and wiggle room.
Snakes need to be fed depending on their age, size, species, and individual needs.
Monitor your pet and adjust their feeding as needed.
Watch for these signs of body condition:
- Healthy weight: A square-shaped body with some visible muscles
- Underweight: A triangular-shaped body with visible ribs
- Overweight: A round, circular-shaped body with fat rolls.
If your boa is an appropriate weight, you know you are feeding it at the correct frequency.
How Much Food Does My Boa Constrictor Need?
An appropriate portion and size of a meal also depend on the size and age of the snake.
Size Of Prey
As a guideline, a boa constrictor’s prey should be no heavier than 10% of the snake’s weight and no larger than the broadest part of the snake’s body.
Large prey can seriously injure or kill your boa constrictor.
These snakes can’t swallow colossal prey the way pythons do.
Gauge the appropriate size of prey by watching your snake eat.
There should be little-to-no body bulge when your boa swallows its food.
Portions Of Food
Larger snakes will need two rats in one feeding or a larger animal like a small-to-medium rabbit.
Give your boa time to digest each animal before feeding it the next.
This means your adult boa constrictor’s total feeding time might last multiple days or even weeks.
Some snake owners suggest waiting until the boa poops before feeding it the next animal – a good indication it’s digested its first course!
Table Of Feeding Schedule And Food Portions
Review this handy table to get a good sense of what portion and how often to feed your boa constrictor.
|Age and Length||Food Portion||Feeding Frequency|
|Newborn (0 to 6 months)||1 to 2 mice||Every 5 to 7 days|
|Juvenile (6 to 12 months)||1 to 2 mice or rats||Every 5 to 10 days|
|Young adult (1 to 2 years)||1 to 2 rats||Every 12 days to 2 weeks|
|Adult (2 to 3 years)||1 to 2 rats, 1 rabbit||Every 1 to 3 weeks|
|Mature adult (3+ years)||1 to 2 rats, 1 to 2 rabbits||Every 3 to 8 weeks|
Knowing how often to feed your boa constrictor is critical for a long and healthy life.
Boa constrictors often eat more or less, depending on their size, age, and individual nutritional needs.
The best way to appropriately feed your boa is by starting with the suggested guidelines.
Then monitor your pet and adjust their feeding as needed.