The overnight shipping cost is usually $50. Email me with your zip code for a more precise quote. All animals are shipped using FedEx Priority Overnight through ReptilesExpress.com. Shipments are limited to the continental United States. We prefer to ship to your nearest FedEx hub (must be approved to receive live reptile shipments) to reduce transit time in a truck. If you are unable to pick up the package at a designated hub, shipping to a business or residence can be arranged. However, a signature will be required. Animals are shipped between Monday and Wednesday to ensure that the package will not sit in a warehouse over the weekend. We cannot be responsible for shipping errors, but please email us immediately if a problem arises. We will attempt to redress any issues.
We accept PayPal, Square, checks, or money orders. A 20% non-refundable (animal price plus shipping) payment is required to place an animal on hold. Balance must be paid in full within 30 days of initial payment.
Generally, all sales on animals are final. Animals are guaranteed to be healthy, mite-free, properly sexed, and eating. If you are unsatisfied with your animal upon arrival, please contact me immediately (within 24 hours). Typically, I cannot offer a refund or exchange for an animal that perishes out of my care after 7 days. All issues will be handled on a case by case basis at seller discretion. When reptiles are setup properly, they thrive in captivity. Unfortunately, under improper temperatures, humidity, or other husbandry issues they can die incredibly quickly. Please feel free to ask for any care advice or tips, I also welcome pictures of the animal’s habitat before shipping so we both know your purchase will arrive to a perfectly setup home. I encourage you to keep an open line of communication with me on any questions, concerns, or comments.
The Epic Epicrates Care Sheet: How to set up and care for your Rainbow Boa
Introduction: When setup properly, all species of rainbow boa (Epicrates sp.) thrive in captivity. Their daily care is minimal and husbandry is fairly simple. When designing an Epicrates cage, your inspirations should derive from dart frog terrariums rather than how people typically keep something like corn snakes or ball pythons. It is imperative that a habitat is established at least a few days before you receive your pet snake. Establishing a terrarium before you receive your rainbow boa will allow you to observe and correct the temperature and humidity fluctuations.
Temperature: When setting up a rainbow boa terrarium, remember what these animal adapted to in the wild. They originate from the tropical rainforest floor; they prefer high humidity and cooler temperatures than what most reptiles need. Pretend that you want to take a slice of the Amazon basin and replicate it in a terrarium. An ambient temperature in the high 70s with a small basking spot in the mid 80s is ideal, but some wiggle room is acceptable. Monitor temperatures by using a digital Max/Min thermometer from any big box store. Check the temps numerous times a day and write down your observations. Move the thermometer (every few hours) around the cage and bury it in the substrate to obtain an overall feel for the terrarium temperatures.
Humidity: The best way to maintain humidity is by reducing ventilation and offering a large water bowl. A good indicator of proper humidity is a slight amount of condensation on the sides or lid of the habitat. Make sure the substrate isn’t getting too wet though. A balance between high air humidity and moist to slightly-dry substrate is best and takes some scrutiny to get perfect. Use a water bowl that is large enough for the snake to soak in. Misting your tank alone will not raise the humidity! If the tank is set up properly to begin with you should rarely have to mist it. Live plants are a great addition to any environment; they raise the humidity, are aesthetically appealing, and allow enrichment for your snake. Be aware of seasonal changes outside of the terrarium that might affect the inside. In the winter, your furnace will dry out your house’s air. In the summer, your house may be getting too warm and the heat pad may need to be put on a timer.
Habitat: An improper habitat can quickly cause major problems with your rainbow boa. Temperatures that are inadequate and humidity that is too low can kill a baby rainbow in a less than a few days. Glass aquarium with screen lids are not ideal cages for rainbow boas. A screen lid allows too much humidity to escape and the glass isn’t thick enough to retain the proper temperature. If you want to use a glass terrarium some modifications will have to be made. Make sure you reduce the ventilation by covering nearly the entire top in a sheet of glass or plastic. Also, make sure the tank is insulated or in a temperature controlled room (not in front of a window or exposed to any temperature extremes). One of the best cages to keep rainbow boas in is clear plastic Rubbermaid or Sterlite containers. These are nearly translucent, thicker than glass, and the ventilation can be regulated by drilling a few holes in the lid or side (less is better). Special attention needs to be paid to the lid, some come with clasps but modifications may need to be made to make them completely escape proof.
Tools: Do not use a heat lamp. Incandescent lights sap the humidity out of the air and dry out the habitat. An undertank heater is your best option. It’s recommended to buy a thermostat or dimmer to perfectly adjust the temperature. Reptiles are ectotherms, meaning they cannot regulate their temperature like birds and mammals. They need a thermal gradient, warmer on one side and cooler on the other. Put the heat pad underneath the tank on one side, with a little room for airflow, this will allow the snake to choose when to warm up and when to cool down. If you want to use lights on the tank, use LEDs or Fluorescents because they don’t generate enough heat to dry the air of the tank. Some people use electronic waterfalls, misting systems, or foggers; these are not necessary. It is probably best not to use these devices unless you are confident you can regulate them. Rainbow boas are semi-arboreal, offer them some driftwood pieces to climb on. Make sure your snake has somewhere to hide and feel secure. Filling a deli-cup with wet sphagnum moss and cutting a small hole in the lid is a perfect “humidity hide box”. Offer hiding spots on both the cool side and the warm side of your habitat.
Substrate: When deciding on a bedding for your terrarium look for something that retards mold growth, can retain moisture without breaking down, and something your snake will feel comfortable on. Coconut chips, cypress mulch, or tropical bark chips are some of the best substrates available. Most of these can be purchased at specialty pet stores, reptile shows, or home improvement stores. Make sure the product hasn’t been treated with chemicals or dyed. Soil and coconut powder can be used, but ensure it isn’t so fine that it is clogging the snake’s labial pits or being otherwise uncomfortable. Occasionally, test to make sure your substrate isn’t holding too much moisture. If you squeeze a handful of substrate and water trickles out, it is too wet. If your hand is left moist, the bedding is perfect.
Feeding: Variety is the spice of life. I offer my adult rainbow boas a varied diet consisting primarily of medium rats, large mice, chicks, small guinea pigs, and quail. This varied diet allows for an array of nutrients and enriches the snake’s lives. Babies are usually started on live fuzzy mice, but we try to switch them over to pre-killed prey items as soon as possible. However, sometimes stress or stubbornness can make babies forget that thawed fuzzies are food. If your rainbow refuses a few thawed meals in a row, try to offer live prey to elicit a stronger feeding response. Food is offered at night. After the fuzzy mice are completely thawed, we raise the temperature of the mice a few degrees warmer than the air temperature to replicate a warm bodied prey item. Using forceps or chop sticks wiggle the warmed prey item around in the cage with the snake, occasionally tap the snake’s nose or body to get its attention. Once the snake strikes and coils around their food, shake the prey a little to replicate struggling. Rainbows are usually vigorous feeders, if they are missing meals, it is probably due to stress. This stress can be caused by too much handling or some husbandry issue (too cold, too hot, too dry, etc.) We feed our baby rainbow boas every 5-10 days. The adults eat every 10-15 days. Rainbow boas are prone to regurgitate if they are offered food too often or prey items that are too big; do not power feed your rainbow.
Handling: Rainbow boas do not like to be coddled or petted. They are not domesticated animals and would rather be left alone. However, they do tolerate the occasional gentle handlings and getting them out for some exercise is enriching and good for them. Just be aware that they can start getting stressed and defensive if out for too long. Baby rainbow boas are all nippy, at that size everything in the wild is going to try to eat them. Once they get some size on them, around a year in age, they become more confident and are much more relaxed during handling. Do not handle your new rainbow boa until it is thoroughly established in its habitat and has eaten at least half a dozen times. Handling can be stressful and rainbows will not eat if they are stressed.
Conclusion: Rainbow boas are awesome! Their husbandry is a bit different than other snakes, more akin to amphibians than ball pythons. They are incredibly interesting to observe and are just as comfortable climbing as they are swimming. They can be kept communally with proper precautions and are fairly easy to breed in captivity. Their manageable size, generally calm demeanor, and brilliant colors make them ideal pets for someone with a little experience. With the new morphs that are beginning to trickle into the pet trade, the hobby of keeping this incredible little boa is only going to become more popular.