Live or Frozen Thawed Feeder Rats

What do you feed your adult red tail boas? Live or frozen thawed? If you feed live can adult red tail boas change to eat frozen thawed rats?

We feed all of our boas frozen thawed rats and we order them from Rodent Pro. I would never recommend feeding live rats to any snake as the rats can be aggressive towards the snake. See the photos below of snakes with bite marks.

Depending on the bite or scratch your snake could become critically injured or killed.

Albino to Albino Breeding

Is breeding albino to albino bad?  There is no simple answer to this question, in many cases breeding an albino to another albino results in some or all of the babies being deformed, one eye, kinks, still births, etc.

Images by others

The reason people say not to breed Albino to Albino has to do with the albino gene being a week gene and initially inbred to prove out the albino genetics.  The het albino gene was first successfully breed/born in 1990 by breeding a male albino to 6 female normals. In june of 1990 2 of the females produced the first ever heterozygous (het) albinos.  As a result of heavy feedings, the babies were nearly six feet long within one year.  Due to the size of the females a paring was made for the 1991 breeding season.  In June of 1992 the first captive born albino boas were produced. The litter consisted of 22 babies, three of which were albino.

Throughout the past 20 years the albino gene has been getting stronger by out breeding to new blood lines.  So thats why it is not recommended to breed an albino to an albino because there is a chance of having a deformed litter. Although there has recently been more and more stories of successfully breeding albino to albino boas.

Personally if it where up to me i would breed my albino to a het to ensure i had a health litter.

Inclusion Body Disease – IBD

Hello William,

I have many questions regarding these beautiful reptiles and the fatal disease called IBD. I have 2 red tail boas. I recently lost my male to IBD. I’ve had him for a little over a year. I thought he had a respiratory infection. Took him to the vet. I was instructed to soak him in an inch of water due to dehydration. Little to say my boa drowned. We took him back to the vet where an autopsy was conducted. He had pneumonia and inclusions in the samples that were taken. One of my questions is can the respiratory infection cause inclusions in the samples that were taken? I have a female boa and a carpet python. What can I do to check if they have the disease? I understand that your are not a vet. However you are a breeder therefore more experienced the myself and I would greatly appreciate any advice and feed back you may have. Thank you for your time.


I am greatly sorry for the loss of your snake. IBD is a terrible disease that effects and eventually kills boas and pythons. However some people speculate that other snakes may be able to host the virus.

Images by Peter Khal

First off let me explain a little about Inclusion Body Disease. It is believed IBD is a viral disease, the pathogen appears to be a retrovirus (as it is the case with AIDS). It produces inclusion bodies that are found in the epithelial cells of the respiratory and digestive tracts, as well as in the liver, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, ovaries, testicles, marrow and nerve cells. This results in abnormal changes of the tissue in the retina, brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves and organs.

Images by others

I do not believe that a respiratory infection could have caused the disease, it is however common for boas and pythons to get the disease from snake mites (Ophionyssus Natricis). Snake mites have often been found in collections in which IBD has occurred but it is not connected with all cases of infection.

Images by others

In order to diagnose the disease, organ tissue samples must be obtained for analysis. The first signs may include symptoms of regurgitation, head tremors, abnormal shedding, chronic regurgitation and lack of appetite or refusal to feed. The snake will lose weight and may develop clogged nostrils, inflammation of the mucous lining in the mouth and/or pneumonia. The disease can rapidly progress to produce nervous system disorders, such as disorientation, corkscrewing of the head and neck, holding the head in abnormal and unnatural positions, rolling onto its back or stargazing.

Unfortunately there is no known treatment for IBD.

I strongly urge a quarantine all new boas and pythons for at least 4-6 months, and to take precautions when visiting other collections, pet stores, expos or swaps.

Heat Lamp vs. Under Tank Heater

Ever wondered what is best to use: a heat lamp or an under tank heater?  Well, they both get the job done.  If you are in a consistently cold climate it may be a good idea to use both.  However, if you live in sunny Southern California either one or the other  is plenty.

Let’s compare:

Heat lamps typically give off more heat for a larger area.  Where as a heat strip or pad provides a more focused heat zone allowing the snake to self regulate temperatures easier.  Especially with the baby snakes.

Be sure to always use a type of bedding on the bottom of your tank to prevent your snake from burning itself (Even though the package warns this, I have never had a snake burn itself from an under tank heater).  Never set up your heat lamp in the tank with your snake.  The lamp should always be outside of the tank and far enough away that the snake will not wrap itself around it and burn.

My conclusion is: Under tank heater. They tend to allow for a more compact tank setup system. They are tucked under out of the way.

Buy a Healthy Red Tail Boa

Never bought a snake before? Or maybe you have but never felt it was as healthy as advertised?  Make sure the Boa is healthy and is being kept in good conditions before buying.

- ?Your snake should have clear firm skin, a rounded body shape, a clean vent, clear eyes, and will actively flick its tongue around when handled.

- When held, the snake should grip you gently but firmly when moving around. It should be alert to its surroundings. All young snakes are food for other, larger snakes, birds, lizards and mammalian predators so your hatchling may be a bit nervous at first but should settle down quickly.

- There is little difference in temperament between the two sexes. Captive-bred Boas of all subspecies tend to be more docile than their wild-caught counterparts.

- Make note of the last time they ate, shed and what they ate.

Check out our FAQ page  for more information.

Red Tail Boa Care Sheet

Hi Everyone,

Todays blog post is our red tail boa care sheet.  Feel free to download Here.




Why do snakes shed?

Shedding is an important process for your snake to go through.  It can help remove parasites, old skin and allow for growth.  When your snake is shedding, it’s shed/skin should come off in one piece.  Snakes shed their skin by brushing against something hard to create a rip in their old skin. Starting at their nose/mouth area the snake continues to work the rip until removed.Younger snakes will shed more often than older snakes.

So you like the skin your snake has right now…not to worry. The new skin has the same pattern and colors as the old.

Shedding does not always go without incident. If the snake attempts to shed it’s skin when there is not enough moisture/humidity in the air, the skin can be too dry and portions of the old skin can remain attached.  This can be dangerous for the snake because the remaining attached skin can harbor parasites.



Sexing Your Red Tail Boa

"Popping" and "Probing"

It’s Easy!  There are three easy methods for sexing red tail boas.

1. The first way is to lightly squeeze the area just below the anal hole with your index finger and thumb. Then gently slide your two fingers down the snakes tail to the end. In males you will feel two little bumps between the anal hole and the end of the tail. In females you will feel nothing. This is not the most accurate way to sex your boas but it is the quickest and easiest.

2. “Popping” – This method is not for young boas and should be done by a professional or someone with experience. When you pop your snake, if male, you will expose the inverted double penii (see image above).

3. “Probing” – Start by lubing your probe. Flip the vent open gently by starting the probe away from the tail.  The probe should go just under the vent plate. Then flip it towards the tail so that the tip of the probe enters the cloaca opening but keep the probe to either side so that it can seek hemepene if there is one.  Press the probe as far as you can against the posterior wall. In a male, the probe will reach around 8 or 9 subcaudal scales down the tail. In a female, it will only reach 1 or 2 subcaudal scales down the tail. Subcaudal scales are the enlarged plates on the underside of your snake’s tail. Do not use a probe that is too small as this could lead to inaccurate results.  Again, this should be done by a professional or someone with experience.