KJUN Snakehaven
KJ Lodrigue, Jr., and Kasi E. Russell-Lodrigue, DVM, PhD


Boas & pythons

Red-tail Boas  |  Argentine Boas Common Boas Dwarf Boas  |  Dwarf Retics Kenyan  Sand Boas
 

 

Guyana Red-Tail Boas (Boa constrictor constrictor )
Suriname Red-Tail Boas (Boa constrictor constrictor) 69
Generic Red-Tail Boas (Boa constrictor constrictor)
"Reverse Striped" Red-Tail Boas (Boa constrictor constrictor) 68
There is likely very little differences between Guyana and Suriname boas except the country they were shipped from - not collected in.  These can be some of the largest boas in captivity: exceeding 10' in total length and approaching 50lbs in weight!  We were lucky enough to acquire Don & Patty Lowrie's personal F1 "Guyana Boas" - their own selected breeding stock from some of the best imported wild-caught redtails in the nation.  Within this colony, we produce some reverse striped babies and some with "pin stripes" along the tail.  All three of my current breeders have beautiful, deep red, patterned tails. 

My Suriname adults include a female produced by Florida Redtails (which is arguably one of the best bloodlines of red-tails in the nation) and an extremely beautiful silver-colored male with a high number of connected saddles.  Our male was produced from 2 unrelated imported Suriname Boas, so he is an F1 unrelated to our female.  In other words, I've managed to combine the traits of a great looking new bloodline with the awesome looks of a well respected, currently established, bloodline to develop something that has the best of both parents while producing genetically diverse offspring. 

 

Argentine Boas (Boa constrictor occidentalis
My current pair of Argentine Boas were acquired from some of the best stock available in the United States (Gus Rentfro).  They are classic looking, black and white, high contrast Argentine boas.  These aren't the low contrast "muddy brown" color of some lineages of Argentine Boas.  The babies can be a little "hissy" while putting on a great bluff, but they calm down quickly with proper handling.  Adults are black, grey, white, and typically very calm.  These are one of the largest boa constrictor subspecies with females occasionally reaching up to 10+ feet in total length.  However, males usually don't get that large.  Argentine Boas are now listed as a subspecies threatened by extinction with CITES, so captive-bred animals are the only option left to us here in the US.  Obviously, it is our responsibility as herpers to maintain this subspecies of boas the best we can (especially no hybridization!).  Pure animals for new breeding projects and/or outcrossing may not become available again anytime in the near future!

 

Common Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor imperator) - Colombian Phase
Common Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor imperator) - Albino
Common Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor imperator) - Anerythristic
Common Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor imperator) - Snow
Common Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor imperator) - Salmon / Hypomelanistic 10
Common Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor imperator) - Arabesque 58
Common Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor imperator) - Hypo Arabesque
To most people, the "Common Boa" is the same thing as the "Colombian Boa Constrictor" or the "Colombian red-tail boa" except that it may or may not be a Colombian locality boa.  Since ours are likely of mixed origin (or at least of unknown origin), we tend to call them Common Boas to represent them accurately, but we do intensively select for the beautiful browns and golds that we used to see in the pet store "Colombian" boas!  Our colony of  "Colombian" boas is a mixture of double hets for snow, albinos, het albinos, possible het albinos, hypos, double het sunglows, arabesque, snow, and more.  All are very beautiful animals of excellent temperament, and they tend to do very well for beginner keepers.  This mix-and-match assortment often means we produce unrelated offspring, many definite hets, even more possible hets, and who knows what else? 

Our albino boas are selected for an eye-pleasing, yellow-colored boa constrictor with low distracting white patches.  To our eyes, nothing is prettier than this color scheme on a boa!  Arabesque is a dominant pattern mutation (possibly a true co-dominant trait as some people claim), and arabesque boas typically have intense dorsal speckling, strongly marked bellies, and a ventral pattern with narrow, connected saddles.   We were lucky enough to obtain a superiorly colored "golden" arabesque male to breed into our other bloodlines of boa constrictors.  Obviously, nothing but improvements can come from this line as it is crossed into many of our upcoming female boas.  Salmon, Salmon Hypo, and Hypo Boas are all different names for the same dominant trait (possibly a true co-dominant trait as some people claim).  Salmon hypos, on average, do tend to darken up some with age, but our breeders are chosen based on beautiful, light, adult coloration with intense red colorations over most of the body. 

 

Crawl Cay Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor imperator) - Dwarf Island Boa (Belize) 9
Crawl Cay Boas are one of the best looking, smallest, and rarest of the small island boas.  These super small boas (which come from a tiny island off of the east coast of Belize) rarely reach 5' in total length (usually closer to 4' in total length), and they are as close to a naturally looking anerythristic boa as you can imagine a normal boa being.  Matter of fact, these black and grey boas don't "brown up" with age like many true anerythristic boas do as they age!  Without a doubt, these are the only dwarf boa I would work with if I only had room for one!  They are docile, beautiful, and always stand out in a collection no matter how large that collection happens to be! Ours were originally produced by Gus Rentfro.

 

Panama Boas (Boa constrictor imperator) 67
Panama Boas (Boa constrictor imperator) - Hypomelanistic 42, 64, 65, 66
My colony of Panama boas were obtained from Michael Ball, and they were produced from two hypomelanistics obtained from Matt Lever's 2005 shipment.  Panama boas are still one of the rarest locality of boas available in the United States, and that shipment was one of the few allowed into the US over the past decade or so.  Since the parents to both of mine were hypomelanistic, that means mine are possible "Super" hypos - and they look like it.  These are some of the best looking hypo (and one of the only locality hypo) boas out there, but they have the added advantage of staying relatively small.  The normal offspring, which are also rare in captivity, still have a beauty on their own that will continue to make them a much sought after locality for years.

 

Super Dwarf Reticulated Pythons (Python reticulatus "jampeanus")
Reticulated Pythons have always caught the eye of herpers the world over, but their large size and aggressive tendencies have prevented many people from owning them.  However, that was changed when a diminutive subspecies of the reticulated python was discovered on the island of Jampea.  Jampean, or Dwarf, reticulated pythons were imported that were much smaller than mainland retics.  However, they still commonly reached 12' when produced and raised in captivity.  More recently, some of the smaller islands near Jampea have turned out some populations of retics that are even smaller than the Jampeans.  These have been coined "Super Dwarf" retics in the hobby.  The imported wild-collected adults that produced this breeding pair of Super Dwarf retics were less than 5' and 6' long for the male and female, respectively.  They were imported at the same size they were 4 years after being imported into the country with only negligible increases.  Many Super Dwarfs do stay smaller than typical Jampea retics, but there is still some debate on the maximum size of Super Dwarf retics in captivity.  It has yet to be seen if these are a unique subspecies, a race of the P. r. jampeanus subspecies, or something else.  We will call them P. r. jampeanus until further data is available that demonstrates otherwise.

Regardless of their exact maximum size, there is no doubt that these are a diminutive race of reticulated pythons.  This opens up the door for many more people to be able to keep reticulated pythons as pets.  In addition to a smaller maximum size, they tend to grow more slowly than typical retics, and they are much less likely to bite.  When frightened, they tend to try and escape from your hands before attempting to bite.  They are active snakes, always watching their surroundings, and are commonly seen exploring their cages.  All of these factors combine to make them an excellent choice for someone wanting a very unique pet that doesn't get too large.

 

Kenyan Sand Boas (Eryx [=Gongylophis] colubrinus var. "loveridgei") - Normal
Kenyan Sand Boas (Eryx [=Gongylophis] colubrinus var. "loveridgei") - Anerythristic
Kenyan Sand Boas (Eryx [=Gongylophis] colubrinus var. "loveridgei") - Albino
Kenyan Sand Boas (Eryx [=Gongylophis] colubrinus var. "loveridgei") - Snow
Kenyan Sand Boas (Eryx [=Gongylophis] colubrinus var. "loveridgei") - Paradox Snow

Kenyan sand boas make one of the best pets since you can easily set them up in a sand-like substrate that looks natural while making you think about some sandworm scene from the Dune series.  They can develop a very awesome feeding response, but they still almost never try to bite when handled correctly.  These are one of the most docile snakes we have ever owned.  That might be because we are always sifting through their substrate to take them out to handle.  Their habit of sitting under their substrate with just their noses sticking out makes one think of the cages containing nothing but "pet noses."  We recommend always moving them to a new cage, or bagging them, at feeding time to prevent accidental ingestion of their substrate.  Water, a humidity box, and supplemental heat should be provided at all times.  Of all of the snakes we have EVER kept, these have to be the least demanding on the owner.  While barely exceeding 2' in length (for the females) and eating mice their entire lives, these are just about the perfect pet snake for anyone.  Males are much smaller than females with many of them looking like 2 Sharpie pens laid down end to end - they are that small.  My adult males eat fuzzy mice with a noticeable bump resulting!  This means you can decide on the SIZE Kenyan you want, and purchase a male or female accordingly!  There aren't many snakes you can do this with.  They can usually be communally housed with only a minimal amount of risk.  Hatchling Kenyan sand boas are extremely voracious feeders on pink mice (ones that won't accept pink mice are relatively rare for us), but they do usually prefer live over thawed prey items.  Regardless, all of our Kenyan sand boas, unless sold wholesale, will be guaranteed to be eating unscented pink mice (normally live ones) before we ship them out!

Kenyan sand boas are more accurately known as East African sand boas.  They were once separated from the Egyptian sand boa (Eryx c. colubrinus), but this division is no longer considered taxonomically valid. Except for the paradox albino Kenyan sand boa, albino E. colubrinus are the result of crossing a "loveridgei" phase (Kenyan Sand Boa) with a "colubrinus" phase (Egyptian sand boa).  Care should be taken when purchasing sand boas marketed as het for Dodoma, flame, etc - or even "albino Dodoma," "snow flame," etc.  These traits are actually localities (as in the case of Dodoma) or color phases that are not inherited as a recessive trait.  Don't be confused.