Brazilian Rainbow boa – Epicrates cenchria
The rainbow boa family includes 5 sub-species:
- E.C.Cenchria: Brazilian, Peruvian, Espirito Santo
- E.C Crassus: Paraguayan, Central Highlands
- E.C Mauro’s: Colombian, Marajo Island
- E.C Assisi: Coating
- E.C Alexei: Argentine
These gorgeous animals hail from central and south America. The live in humid habitats such as the Amazon rainforest. This means they require a fair amount of humidity in captivity to stay healthy.
The Brazilian Rainbow Boa (BRB) is consider by many to be one of the most beautiful snakes in the world. Its rich red color along with heavy green-blue iridescence makes it very striking. Installing high quality UV lights in their enclosure wil make it easier for you to appreciate their beauty. We find that our BRB is nocturnal, like most of the other boas, and prefers to stay hidden during the day. Many people would take away the hides to prevent their BRB from being out of site. We feel that is a bit selfish. If a snake wants to hide, we let them. Their healthy and mental well being is our first priority. We are just lucky that we also get to enjoy seeing these animals when they do choose to show themselves.
Many of the other Rainbow boas are paler in color and range from a pale yellow to browns and even greys. They all share similar black markings and the brilliant iridensence. The Brazilian’s rich red color is unique to them.
Donovan is the only Rainbow Boa currently housed at Snake Haus. He came to us as a rescue due to significant facial injuries. His previous owner had been keeping him in an enclosure that was way too hot. He had been trying so hard to get out of his oven like enclosure that he severely damaged his nose pushing at the door. Over time the scarring caused multiple layers of retained shed to build up. When we took him in his retained shed was so tight he could not open his mouth to eat properly. After spending some time in one of our ICU enclosures we were able to remove the retained shed for him. That very same day he ate his first meal in more than 6 months and has continued to grow and improve with time.
Follow this link to watch a video of Sara removing Donovan’s retained shed. At the time this video was taken Donovan had completely stopped trying to shed on his own. You can see how thick it is in the video. This is an example of how repeated retained sheds can become life threatening. Poor Donovan was essentially a prisoner in his own skin.
BRB’s require good humidity but they do not need high temperatures. This poses a challenge for adequate care in captivity. Keeping this type of snake in an enclosure with too much air flow, such as a screen top, makes retaining humidity impossible. Many people have tried to remedy that situation by keeping the substrate very wet. This can make it difficult to keep their enclosure clean and can cause problems like scale rot. The humidity these animals need is NOT standing water. They need water vapor in the air.
We keep them in a well enclosed unit with a large bowl of water that is right on top of an under tank heater. This allows us to provide a constant source of true ambient humidity without needing a high ambient temperature. Rather than having deep substrate, we use an outdoor plastic mat for his floor that holds water but does not absorb it. By placing this mat in a water proof tray we can add water to the floor that will evaporate. The mat keeps the animal up above that water so they are not forced to saturate their skin unless they want to. This system is very easy to manage and clean.
Deep substrate can actually become a sink for water meaning it can pull it out of the air. Adding excess water to the substrate to prevent that can create an environment that quickly grows bacteria or mold. That absorbent substrate also absorbs urine and is tedious to remove and clean. Difficult cleaning requirements often results in an enclosure being cleaned less often. We prefer to keep our captive habitats simple and easy to clean.
Watch this video below to see how Donovan’s enclosure is set up – there is a large 4×1.5 foot floor heater underneath his tray that is controlled with a thermostat and set at 85 degrees. That keeps his floor warm, but not hot, and keeps his water constantly evaporating. His water dish is changed every few days to ensure that he also has fresh water for drinking and bathing. This system has allowed him to have full, complete, normal sheds every time.