The Rosy Boa is a small constrictor snake found in the deserts of the southwestern United States. These snakes are small, but skilled hunters that prey on small rodents and other reptiles.
Rosy Boas are easy to spot because of their namesake rosy-pink colors! They often have a pink or salmon-colored belly speckled with dark orange spots. This species also has a triple stripe along their back which can be orange, brown, black or yellow.
Beginner owners love Rosy snakes for their bright colors, easygoing temperament and simple husbandry. This species is an excellent snake to keep as a pet.
Want to learn how to keep this adorable snake? Continue reading to find out…
|Common Name||Rosy Boa, Three-Lined Boa|
|Scientific Name||Rhacodactylus leachianus|
|Range||Northwestern Mexico, California, Arizona|
|Size||2.5 to 3 feet|
|Color||Salmon pink, gray, and tan|
|Diet||Small mammals, lizards, birds, amphibians|
|Tank Size||30 gallons|
|Temperature||70 to 90°F|
|Humidity||40 to 60%|
|Price||$75 to $100|
Rosy Boa Snakes
The Rosy Boa (Lichanura trivirgata) is one of only two species of boa native to North America. The other species is the rubber boa. These small, colorful snakes are found in the rocky deserts of southern California, southwestern Arizona, and the Sonora and Baja California states in Mexico.
Rosy Boas are specially adapted for burrowing in the sandy soils of deserts. They can also tolerate the extreme temperatures and dry climate of this region. It is common for this species to vary their peak activity times throughout the year to avoid the hottest and coldest parts of the day.
Currently there are three recognized subspecies of Rosy Boa:
- Desert (Lichanura trivirgata gracia)
- Coastal (Lichanura trivirgata roseofusca)
- Mexican (Lichanura trivirgata trivirgata)
Their ranges overlap and there are very few genetic and physical differences between these three subspecies. Pet species are not identified down to this level. The care of Rosy Boas is the same no matter the subspecies.
All Rosies are beautiful and unique snakes that are friendly, easy to care for and small.
Their pale pink body, smooth stripes and adorable faces make them a cute choice for owners searching for a friendly pet.
They are known and loved in the reptile-keeping community as an excellent beginner snake. They grow to a manageable size, are hardy, long-lived and very docile.
These Boas are widely bred and easy to find for sale at pet stores or from breeders. There are also several morphs that display unique colors and patterns not usually seen in the wild.
Are Rosy Boas Friendly?
Pet snakes cannot show the same outward affection as a dog or a cat. However, some species are tolerant of handling and interacting with their owners.
Rosy Boas are calm, docile snakes that don’t mind being taken out of their enclosure.
They are one of the best snakes for handling, which only adds to their popularity. These Boas are slow and are generally not defensive, though their personalities can vary between individuals. They are one of the most tame and friendly pet snake species.
When threatened these snakes rarely bite. Instead, their first instinct is to curl into a ball and hide their head under their coils. This is very similar to the defensive behavior of ball pythons.
Most cases of owners being bitten by this species occur when the snake confuses their hand for prey during feeding time. A bite may draw blood, but is not severe or especially painful.
Do They Make Good Pets?
Rosy Boas are slow-moving snakes and only reach a maximum adult size of 3.5 feet. Their small size means they can be housed comfortably in a relatively small, 30-gallon glass tank. They are also common to find for sale with a variety of beautiful morphs to choose from.
These snakes are known for being easy to care for and will spend most of their day under the substrate.
While these traits are ideal for someone who doesn’t mind keeping a fairly reserved species, owners hoping for a more energetic snake should consider a corn snake morph.
Unfortunately, the Rosy Boa is largely nocturnal so you will rarely see one out and about. This species is not very active or engaging.
|Slow, calm temperament that makes them well suited to handling.||Your boa will spend most of the day hiding and is only active at night.|
|Stay relatively small, growing to an average of 3 feet when fully grown.||Requires high temperatures of up to 90°F.|
|They are not susceptible to many health problems.||Not as inquisitive or engaging as other species.|
|Widely available from captive breeders for a good price.||They are typically not interested in interacting with owners.|
We recommend Rosy Boas for beginners with limited prior experience. They can live for several decades with little trouble when given the proper habitat, diet and care.
Appearance, Size and Colors
These snakes have a narrow head lined with small, recurving teeth for holding prey.
In wild populations Rosy Boa snakes will have different colors than subspecies from another region.
Most Rosy Boas are purplish gray, yellow, beige or sand-colored. They have a pink or salmon-colored belly speckled with dark orange spots. One thing most individuals share is three parallel stripes that run down the length of their backs.
These stripes run from head to tail, are evenly spaced apart and come in shades of dark red, black, red or rusty orange.
In some individuals the stripes are crisp and highly contrast against their base color. For example, these bright Boas may have a dark, purplish gray body highlighted with bright, rusty red stripes.
Other snakes have stripes that are broken against the background. For example, an individual may have a pale brown body with creamy orange striping. In this case the stripes will be harder to distinguish from the background color.
Rosy Boa Morphs
There are many Rosy Boa colors because private breeders have bred morphs to have beautiful colors and patterns:
- Albino Rosy Boas are a common morph. They have a skin mutation that prevents them from creating brown and black pigment. Because of this they are light yellow with pink eyes and pale orange stripes.
- Anerythristic species lack red and yellow pigment. These snakes have a bluish gray base color with dark gray or black stripes.
- The hypomelanistic morph looks closer to a wild-type, but with lighter, more diluted colors.
- Snow morphs are entirely white with no visible markings and black eyes. As they grow they may develop very faint orange stripes and speckles.
Why Is My Rosy Boa White?
New snake owners may be alarmed when their snake turns pale or milky-white overnight. This is not a sign of illness, but is a natural process when they are about to shed. The old, outer layer of skin separates from a new layer underneath, giving your snake a ghostly appearance and papery texture.
How Big Do Rosy Boa Snakes Get?
Rosies are small snakes with an average length of between 1 and 3 feet. In general females are longer and heavier than males. A large female can grow to 3.5 feet, while fully grown males rarely exceed 2 feet in length.
These constrictors are very muscular and are heavy for their size.
Full grown Rosy Boa snakes can weigh 3.5 to 14 ounces, reach over 3 feet long and have a diameter as large as a golf ball.
Hatchlings are born only 10 inches long and are the width of a pencil. They grow fast during the first two years of their life to reach 18 inches as juveniles.
Their growth rate slows once they reach adulthood, however, like all snakes, they continue to grow their entire lives. Their growth past adulthood is usually slow enough to not be noticeable or significant.
Rosy Boa Care Guide
This snake is one of the best species to care for as a pet because of their basic husbandry needs. They do well in a 30-gallon glass tank with a loose substrate for burrowing and a temperature gradient between 70°F and 90°F.
The most difficult part of keeping this snake is maintaining a suitable temperature gradient. In a smaller enclosure it can be tricky to create both a warm side and a cooler side with a 20°F gradient difference.
The Rosy Boa is a carnivorous snake that eats small animals. In the wild they prefer to feed on kangaroo rats, pack rats and baby rabbits in their natural range. They are also known to eat lizards, amphibians and other snakes.
To hunt they will look for mammal nests and burrows using their sense of smell.
Once they find a suitable animal to eat, they quickly strike and wrap their muscular bodies around the prey. They then use their hooked teeth to grip struggling prey, while squeezing it to death. Once subdued they swallow their prey whole.
In captivity a Rosy Boa diet is very simple.
Pets should be fed whole, frozen-thawed mice. Chicks or young quails can be offered occasionally to vary their diet and provide enrichment.
They are strong feeders and should be offered a mouse or chick every 10-14 days. Hatchlings and juveniles need weekly meals to sustain their growth and help them put on a healthy amount of weight. Feed your snake mice or chicks that are slightly smaller than the widest portion of their body.
Prior to feeding mice should be defrosted in the refrigerator and heated to approximately 100°F. You can do this by floating one in a small plastic food bag in warm water. Make sure the prey is fully warmed through and patted dry with paper towels. Use tongs to wiggle the mouse in front of your snake until it strikes.
You can either feed a Rosy Boa in its enclosure or in another tank reserved for feeding. A dedicated feeding tank helps to keep your snake from expecting food every time the tank is opened, which can lead to accidental bites.
Your snake should also have a bowl of clean, fresh water in its tank at all times.
For such a small snake the Rosy Boa’s lifespan is impressive. These snakes are known to live for over 30 years when given high-quality care, though 18-22 years is typically considered more common. A proper diet, regular tank cleaning, and veterinary checkups are important for a healthy snake.
The lifespan of Rosy Boas in the wild is unknown due to the difficulty of tracking an individual over its entire lifespan. However, wild snakes have shorter average lifespans than pets because of the risk of predation, starvation and disease.
Pet species are prone to very few health problems and are generally hardy, healthy snakes.
Knowing the normal appearance and behavior of your snake can help you catch potential infections or illnesses before they become severe. The most common health problems are scale rot, mouth rot and respiratory infections. These illnesses are often caused by poor husbandry and dirty tanks.
To prevent shedding problems these snakes need a hide lined with damp sphagnum moss to create a humid microhabitat.
These snakes can thrive with either a simple tank setup or a more complicated and natural habitat.
Décor is an essential part of a Rosy Boa’s habitat as it helps to provide shelter and enrichment. Provide at least two hides by using hollow half-logs, cork flats, or plastic tubs. Make sure the hides are on either side of the tank. Other décor options include fake or live plants, branches, flat rocks, cholla wood or rock ledges.
The Rosy Boa is a terrestrial snake that rarely climbs, but will burrow during the day. As a result their habitat should include 4 inches of loose substrate for burrowing. This can be nontoxic wood shavings like aspen or a 60/40% mix of organic topsoil and sand.
All substrates should be spot cleaned daily and fully replaced every two months to prevent bacteria from spreading.
These snakes need a tank that is longer and wider than it is tall to provide enough space for them to display their natural movement and behaviors. We recommend a 30-gallon glass tank for a fully grown Rosy Boa. The tank should measure 36” x 18” x 12” and be well ventilated with a metal screen top to provide airflow.
Hatchling and juveniles can be kept in a 20-gallon tank, until they grow longer than 10 inches. Young individuals should still be given substrate for burrowing and décor.
Rosy Boas prefer warm temperatures and low humidity as they are native to hot, dry rocky deserts. To build this habitat you will need to use a ceramic heat emitter at night and a basking bulb during the day. For some tanks you will need to combine these heat sources with an under-tank heater to maintain suitable temperatures.
Aim for a daytime temperature range of 72-90°F and a nighttime range of 70-84°F.
Place heating elements on one side of the tank to create a temperature gradient. The tank should have a cool end around 72-75°F and a warm end between 80-85°F. The basking spot should be even warmer at 86-90°F.
The tank’s ambient humidity should remain close to 40%.
They should have a humid hide to help with shedding. This can be as simple as a plastic container lined with damp sphagnum moss. A humid hide helps prevent shedding problems and gives them the option of resting in a moist environment.
Providing a UVB light is highly recommended for the health and metabolism of any pet reptile. Use a 5.0 UVB bulb in a reflective housing placed 10” above the basking spot.
The behavior of wild Rosy Boa snakes is not well documented because of their secrecy. These small boas are naturally shy and reclusive snakes that live alone and are nocturnal. Wild individuals that live in the northernmost parts of their range enter a state of dormancy from November to May. When temperatures are coldest they brumate by slowing their metabolism down.
Pet species do not brumate if their temperatures are kept constant year-round. They are mostly sedentary during the day and become more active after the lights are off.
Rosy Boas quickly adjust to handling if introduced to it in the right way.
After bringing home your snake do not attempt to handle it for 2 weeks. You need to wait for it to become accustomed to its new habitat and setup.
Once your snake is comfortable gently work on socializing it by holding it for 10 minutes every other day. Gradually increase the frequency of handling over the next few months. Calm Boas will flick their tongues, move around and not show signs of stress like balling up or hissing.
How Much Does A Rosy Boa Cost?
Most Rosy Boas generally sell for $75 to $100. Snow or Mojave morphs can increase Rosy Boa prices to $500.
These Boas can be difficult to find at pet stores, despite being a popular pet. They are more often available at reptile shows or from online breeders. These snakes are healthier, have better temperaments and are more widely available at expos.
You will want to find a reputable breeder who is open about their breeding process, takes good care of their hatchlings and readily answers questions. The breeder should know information such as their date of birth, genetics, morph and health.
Picking out a healthy hatchling takes an eye for detail.
The hatchling should be eating and shedding regularly without difficulty. Its scales should be free from blemishes or rough spots and its body should be round, firm and even. Avoid hatchlings who have crust or discharge around their eyes, nose, mouth or vent. Also avoid individuals who are wheezing or breathing with an open mouth.
RELATED: How Much Do Snakes Cost?
A typical Rosy Boa setup costs $350-$450. This cost includes the price of the tank, substrate, décor and heating elements. Once set up, the general cost is around $25 per month for food and substrate. They are not expensive to keep.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Rosy Boas Venomous?
Rosy Boas are nonvenomous constrictor snakes. This means that they rely on their physical strength to kill prey, instead of venom. Their skull is lined with rows of sharp teeth that curve backwards toward their throat. These teeth are not hollow (unlike the fangs of venomous snakes) and are only used to keep prey from escaping while they suffocate it.
Is A Rosy Boa A Good Beginner Snake?
Rosy Boas are considered one of the best species for beginners to keep. They are one of the cutest snakes in the hobby, have simple husbandry needs and have an easy tank setup. They also have gentle, friendly personalities that make them excellent pets for first-time owners.
How Fast Are Rosy Boas?
Rosy Boas are not agile and move slowly using rectilinear motion to travel. These snakes use their ribs to pull themselves along the ground. They are one of the slowest snake species with an average slithering speed of 10 centimeters per second. These snakes rely more on camouflage, stealth and persistence to find and catch prey.
The Rosy Boa is named for its beautiful salmon-pink colored belly that is lined with dark orange spots. Some rosies also come in shades of gray, lavender, yellow and beige depending on their region or morph.
All rosies have three parallel stripes that run from head to tail, a slender head and small eyes. These stripes are evenly spaced and come in shades of dark red, black, red or rusty orange.
Adult females grow up to 3.5 feet long with a width about the size of a golf ball. Males are much smaller, typically growing no longer than 2 feet.
Rosy Boa snakes are excellent pets for reptile owners of all experience levels. They are small, docile and thrive in a relatively simple setup. A single adult can be housed comfortably in a 30-gallon tank. New keepers especially love these snakes because of their easy husbandry and gentle, calm personality.
Have you fallen in love with this species? Let us know in the comment section.