Sunday, December 11, 2011

Creature Feature: Rosy Boa.

Today, I had a little Twitter chat with Brian of I was wondering why, of all snakes, he had never really covered the Rosy Boa (Lichanura trivirgata) on his show. Things like sand boas, boa constrictors, and Amazon tree boas got the spotlight one week. Yet the rosy boa, one of the most mellow, sweet snakes that I have ever met, has gone all but untouched by one of the most popular snake shows on the internet.


His answer was simple: He never really works with them. That's a damn shame, seeing as rosies are among the easiest snakes in the world to take care of. You don't even need to give them water every day. Don't give them water every day.

Let's back up a little. The Rosy Boa is native to the dry, hot parts of California and Mexico. It is one of two boa species native to the Unites States. It eats rodents and, like most desert boas, is a fairly shy snake. But before I get into how awesome it is to have a Rosy Boa like Eclair, let me make something clear:


One, you're getting mixed up with pythons. There are no less than three species in the genus Python that grow huge. Not all of them do, but I'll admit that, anacondas not withstanding, boas are a lot smaller in general. Again, aside from anacondas, the red-tail boa is the most common and largest boa  that you will meet.  They get fourteen feet, max. While that may seem pretty long to you, it is not big compared to massive pythons like the twenty-thirty feet of reticulated and Burmese pythons. Boas are also fascinating by default because they bear live young - something that pythons cannot do.

And we boa people LOVE showing it off. Not my pic, BTW.

Two, rosies are really, really docile. They do not resist being handled at all. They are also the slowest snakes in the world, which means that escapees will not get far. They get four feet max and only about as big around as a golf ball. They can swallow mice. That's it.

Albino Rosy Boa II 5-1-08 by ~oOBrieOo on deviantART

They also come in a variety of very appetizing patterns. Seriously. I named my Mexican female Eclair because she looks so strikingly like a dessert. Others have described albino rosies looking like creamsicles. Even the 'mutts,' i.e. rosies of mixed locality, are called "root beers" within the trade.  Just about the only ones that don't look straight out of a frosting tube are the ones that are almost unicolor. All the rest have three stripes that, if bred to look right, can look amazing.

Rosies are awesome beginner snakes. They eat a mouse a week, if that. I was terrified when Eclair did not eat anything for months, but as soon as she got over the normal winter blues, she was fine. They are also easy to breed and come with the bonus of live babies, so they never get egg-bound. The only thing keeping them from being recommended as an ideal starter snake is that they aren't corn snakes or ball pythons.

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