How long can a boa constrictor go without eating?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: How long can a boa constrictor go without eating? We will speak in detail about the alimentation of a Boa constrictor and the reasons why they may refuse to eat.

How long can a boa constrictor go without eating?

A boa constrictor can go up to 6 months without eating. In the wild, snakes are not used to getting food so often and so easy, thus they are used to going long periods without eating. In this time, their metabolism slows down and they can preserve energy. Snakes do not get their energy and heat from food protein (like we humans do), but from their environment. 

When speaking about the diet of your boa constrictor, to avoid obesity or starvation problems, most species that eat rodents can eat once a week, assuming they are not too large. Preferably we should give several mice or medium-sized prey than a single very large prey, thus avoiding excessive dilation.

We can orient ourselves based on the fact that the smaller the individual, the more frequently they feed.  Young and growing juveniles can be fed once or twice a week. In the wild, the hatchlings can prey on geckos and tree frogs. 

Boa hatchlings may require the movement of live prey to initiate an attack and begin to eat. Therefore, the first meals of the small Boas can be mice with a few days alive, “the so-called pinkies”. After a few meals this way, most boas will readily accept thawed mice.

Before the reproductive period, which usually begins with the brumation period, it is advisable to increase the feeding frequency for females.

Older and larger specimens, or more sedentary species such as boas, can eat every 10 days or even every two weeks.

Next time someone asks you: How long can your boa constrictor go without food, remember that Boas evolved to keep themselves on a minimal amount of food. Boas should not be overfed or starved, trying to keep them at a healthy weight.

A young boa is perfectly maintained with a meal every 10 or every 15 days, in this way its growth will be slower but stable, and as we have already said, they will be able to maintain it until adulthood, between 3 and 4 years of age, depending on the type of Boa.

Adult Boas require seasonal feeding changes, which will be similar to the place where they are breeding, due to the change of seasons that happens naturally around or around them, and that they detect when they perceive changes in light and changes in weather, temperature. In the colder seasons, they may even reject food. This is a good thing since, in the wild, Boas do not feed the same throughout the year.

Adult boas should be fed a meal that leaves a moderate lump on their body, once every two to three weeks. Although boas are very capable of eating very large foods, you should avoid these excesses as it is not healthy for your Boa.

What is the best diet for a Boa Constrictor?

Mice and other rodents are elemental in their diet, although their diet may include birds.

Boa Imperators are known to eat Spiny-tailed Iguanas and Green Iguanas in the wild. Some adult boas can eat rodents, rabbits, squirrels, birds, and even agoutis.

The most common frequency to feed a snake can vary with the species, size and age, being preferable to accustom the snake to eating dead rodents to avoid accidents.

It is not as easy as in other reptiles, that nutritional deficiencies occur thanks to their habit of eating the whole prey, as long as their diet is balanced.

Practically, the first year of life of the Boa, it can be overcome with mice, and its quality as food will depend on the quality of the mouse’s diet.  The food can be kept frozen without losing its quality, and periodically, a dose of vitamin + calcium for reptiles can be provided, injected under the skin of the prey before offering it to the Boa.

To get it used to eating dead prey, offer it warm, putting it in front of it and moving it with tweezers. Once used, having frozen rodents makes it much easier to feed them. They should be thawed at room temperature, or a little warm, and offered with the hair very dry, to avoid the substrate getting caught and the Boa ingesting it with its prey.

Guidance

•  Babies up to 90 cm – From 1 to 2 mice of appropriate size every 7 days.

•  90 cm to 1.80 m – 1 to 2 rats of appropriate size every 7 to 10 days; or every 14 days to reduce the growth of your snake.

• 1.80 m and above – 1 to 2 rabbits of appropriate size between 10 and 14 days.

Don’t worry, they do not feel hunger like humans, so they are not suffering. But take it as a sign that you should increase the amount you are feeding them. The same applies if they don’t seem interested in what you offer.

Why do snakes stop eating?

Snakes can go from a few days to long periods without eating. Also, there are times in their life when they stop eating completely. We must know how to detect what reason our snake may have for having stopped eating, as it may be due to a natural cause or due to some disease or health problem which must be remedied.

These are some of the possible causes why a snake stops being interested in its food:

  • Natural causes
  • Digestion time
  • The way we feed it is not adequate
  • Shedding of the skin
  • Mating season
  • Causes that indicate health problems
  • Stress
  • Inadequate conditions in the terrarium
  • Diseases. 

These are the most frequent reasons why your snake can stop eating. Normally, in addition to seeing that it stops ingesting its prey, we will see that it has other symptoms which will depend on what is the cause of anorexia. 

For example, if it is a matter of shedding, we will see that the skin dries up and falls off; if it is stressed, not only will it not eat but it will hardly leave its shelter, among many other possibilities. But, to detect the most probable cause, you should go to your trusted veterinarian and explain everything you have been able to observe in that period in which your pet has been without eating.

What to do if a snake stops eating due to natural causes

Next, we are going to talk about different things you can do to help your snake, in times when it stops eating food due to natural causes:

The duration of digestion – Sometimes, it may be that there simply has not been enough time between one meal and another for the size of your snake or for the amount it ingested the last time and, therefore, the digestion has not yet finished. In such a case, you will only have to wait 3 or 4 more days to offer the food again.

The prey is not the right one – It may also be that you are offering it dead prey, pieces of meat or special preparations and that the snake does not accept food. If you observe that your companion does not feel any interest in inert prey, you will simply have to offer it live prey. 

Other times, you just have to change the type of animal that you offer, as some snakes are somewhat sybarite since each type of prey smells and tastes different.

The way to offer the prey is not adequate – You must know if your snake is a species with thermoregulatory pits or not, to make sure if it needs the prey to only show movement or if, besides, body temperature is necessary. 

In the case of offering live prey, you will not have to worry about this. But, if you want to feed the snake with dead prey or preparations, you must simulate the behaviour of live prey to stimulate the attack. 

On the other hand, if the snake does have thermoregulatory pits, the movement will not suffice, but the piece of meat will have to be previously heated or prepared so that the animal detects the temperature, recognizes it as prey and can direct its attack towards it. 

The shedding of the skin – You simply have to wait for this process to finish to offer food again. You will only have to worry that the move goes smoothly and be vigilant in case irregularities are observed during the process, to be able to solve them in time.

In times of heat – The females stop eating when they are about to lay their eggs, whereas the males will stop eating when they go into heat. But again, it’s simply a matter of waiting for their natural process to finish and then your appetite returns.

What to do if a snake stops eating due to health problems

In this section we will discuss different things we can do to help our snake when it stops eating for reasons that indicate possible health problems:

Stress – Snakes can also suffer from stress, mostly due to house changes, new companions, and poorly structured environments. 

The first thing they will do then stops eating and what you must do is, on the one hand, correct the environment as much as possible and, on the other hand, cover the terrarium a little so that it feels more protected even when leaving its burrow, and wait a few days or weeks for the snake to feel more calm and comfortable in its new home to offer food again.

The environmental conditions of the terrarium are inadequate – As we well know, when you have a pet(it does not matter if we are talking about a dog, a parrot, a reptile or other animals) at home or in a place that is not its natural habitat and although this animal was born in captivity, we must reproduce the conditions of their place of origin as much as possible. 

If these habitat conditions cannot be met, in addition to all the legal requirements surrounding the species that we think we have, we would not even have to consider the option of having it with us. Reptiles are animals that come from very specific habitats according to their species. 

Therefore, when we are preparing for the arrival of a snake to our home, we must inform ourselves very well to prepare the space in which it will live according to its needs. It will be necessary to ensure that there is always humidity, temperature, vegetation, hiding places, light, food and other parameters exactly as it would find it in its original place. 

Diseases – You will have to go to a veterinarian specialized in exotic animals. This way you will detect as soon as possible what happens to your hissing companion. As you follow the vet’s instructions, you will see that it recovers. The specialist veterinarian will tell you when we can offer him food again. But when the animal feels better, you will see that it is regaining its appetite.

Other things to know about snakes and their diet

There are some things that it is also convenient for you to know if you live with a snake:

After spending some time without having ingested anything, it is common that the snake at the beginning of regaining its appetite demands more food from you than before the period of starvation.

For this reason, in the first weeks after finding an appetite again, it will be necessary to offer him food more often until his rhythm returns to regularity.

Something very important is that every time you offer it food if it does not take it more or less in the first 15 minutes, you should remove it since the snake will hardly eat it.

The reasons for withdrawing the food offered to the snake after a quarter of an hour of waiting are that, in the case of being live prey, the animal may defend itself and ends up wounding the snake. Also, if we give it dead prey and it does not eat it soon, it will start to decompose and can cause health problems for the snake.

Conclusions

In this blog post, we answered the following question: How long can a boa constrictor go without eating? We spoke in detail about the alimentation of a Boa constrictor and the reasons why they may refuse to eat.

A boa constrictor can go up to 6 months without eating. In the wild, snakes are not used to getting food so often and so easy, thus they are used to go long periods without eating. In this time, their metabolism slows down and they can preserve energy.

Snakes can go from a few days to long periods without eating. Also, there are times in their life when they stop eating completely. We must know how to detect what reason our snake may have for having stopped eating, as it may be due to a natural cause or due to some disease or health problem which must be remedied.

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on How long can a boa constrictor go without eating?

How long can my snake go without eating?

You snake can go without eating for up to six months. In the wild, it is common for snakes to live this much without food, especially in the wintertime. 

How often should you feed a boa constrictor?

You should feed an adult boa constrictor once every 10-14 day. Boa hatchlings can be fed up to 3-4 times a week. 

Why won’t my boa constrictor eat?

Your boa constrictor won’t eat because of either natural causes or due to health problems. You should make sure that the temperature and the humidity in the terrarium are adequate; that it likes the food that you are offering. You should also consult a veterinarian specialized in exotic animals. 

What is the average lifespan of a boa constrictor?

The average lifespan of a boa constrictor is 20 to 30 years in captivity. 

References

Study.com – How long can a boa constrictor go without eating?

LiveScience – How Snakes Survive Months Without Food

EmboraPets – How Long Can A Ball Python Go Without Eating?

Hi, I am Martin, I am a pet lover! I own a Golden retriever and a Long-eared Owl. They keep me company & I often had questions about them which I couldn't find answers for online. I put this hub together for people like me & you.

Leave a Comment