Common Care And Upkeep Of Sand Boas (Eryx Gongylophis)

Common Care And Upkeep Of Sand Boas (Eryx   Gongylophis)

Appeared in ‘Reptilia’ Journal, Issue 34

Sand boas with the genera Eryx and Gongylophis have lengthy experienced an undeserved status of becoming dull Animals. Most to start with time snake purchasers end up determining with a colourful corn snake, kingsnake, or other smaller, effortless to preserve colubrid. Point is, most species of sand boas are also uncomplicated to look after, and as they are more compact and slower relocating, will also be much easier to take care of so They may be great for newbies. There are a selection of species to pick from, and plenty of specimens are intricately patterned, with out even mentioning The variability of colour morphs on the market. Sand boas are primarily nocturnal, meaning They are really Lively mostly during the night time.

This article is actually a typical overview to the treatment of sand boas. I explain the approaches which have worked greatest for me, which ought to serve as a reference for identifying the species and approaches which can be best for you personally.


Sand boa housing may be something from an easy tupperware box to the naturalistic vivarium setup. For the little one sand boa, I like to recommend a tupperware box no more substantial than ten x 6 x four inches (ca. twenty five x 15 x 10 cm) LxWxH. A small 1st enclosure can help the younger snake truly feel protected, and in addition allows stimulate a feeding reaction all through this era once the snake could be a finicky eater.

A little Grownup male is often housed in a tupperware box of around ten x 10 x 6 inches (twenty five x twenty five x fifteen cm) LxWxH. A small enclosure boosts the likelihood of a good feeding response, which is very vital for males as they often quickly for various weeks at any given time All year long. I maintain greater Grownup males in tubs measuring 16 x 10 x six inches (ca. 40 x twenty five x fifteen cm).

For housing an Grownup female of a lesser species, I recommend a bare minimum enclosure measurement of twenty x twelve x six inches (ca. fifty x thirty x fifteen cm) LxWxH; for an adult feminine of a larger species, a minimum of 24 x eighteen x six inches (ca. sixty x forty five x fifteen cm).

Females of all species will often be simpler to take care of than males (I would propose obtaining women if possible). Women are frequently not difficulty feeders, and are frequently greater and more Energetic than males, earning them easier to find while in the enclosure. These variables make ladies much easier than males to deal with in naturalistic enclosures. A 4 foot long (122 cm) desert vivarium can be extremely desirable and should be thought of by everyone who wants to keep these snakes as pets.

Whichever kind of enclosure you choose to employ, excellent ventilation is very important.

Tupperware containers are almost airtight, so holes need to be drilled in the sides. I recommend a row of holes, every 2 centimetres, round the sides. To avoid escapes, the diameter of your holes need to be not more than two millimetres for that smallest toddlers, and no more than three 4 millimetres for more substantial snakes. I cut more substantial holes (50 mm) and canopy them with high quality mesh zinc display. There need to be no rough edges left right after drilling.


Creating a naturalistic vivarium setup can be extremely satisfying, but one particular rule should really normally utilize: Safety to start with! All significant objects needs to be very carefully secured so that the snake can’t make them go by climbing, pushing, or burrowing and possibly be crushed. The layout should also be smart. However interesting it may appear to build a rock pile inside the vivarium, getting your snake within just it would be nearly impossible. Design the decoration so you have quick access to every Portion of the enclosure without needing to transfer heavy objects.

Anything at all that goes in to the enclosure should be cleaned completely beforehand. A weak Remedy of bleach in heat drinking water is satisfactory for washing cage furnishings. Rocks, wood, bark, and synthetic plants are all high quality to the sand boa enclosure. Driftwood is commonly accessible in lots of pet outlets, and helps make excellent deacute;cor for virtually any terrarium.

Particular forms of live cactus can be employed, but these has to be thoroughly picked out in order to avoid mishaps. Steer clear of Individuals with lots of spines which the snake would’ve problems gliding involving. Also keep away from spines which might be smooth and are available off simply, as these could get into the snake’s eyes and mouth. Other dessert crops for example stonecrop can be applied.


I exploit two different types of heating for sand boas: heat mats for my racks of tubs, and basking lamps (in conjunction with fluorescent lighting) for my naturalistic setups.

Whichever process is utilised, a daytime incredibly hot place needs to be saved at about 90ordm;File (32deg;C), and the snake need to always have the ability to retreat to a cooler space held at about 78ordm;File (25deg;C). Nighttime temperature can fall to about 76 80ordm;F (24 27deg;C) Total. Heat sources Has to be linked to a thermostat to mechanically Regulate temperatures. I use pulse proportional thermostats for warmth mats, and dimming thermostats for heat lamps.

The heat resource needs to be at one stop with the enclosure. I have 6 inch vast (fifteen cm) warmth mats behind my rack units. The detachable snake tubs slide into the rack and relaxation easily Along with the thermostatically managed warmth resource at the back.


Lights just isn’t needed for sand boas, so is used generally for the advantage of viewers. If you decide on to light your sand boa enclosure, utilize a fluorescent tube. I like normal daylight tubes; They can be economical, bright, and emit little warmth, which is good.

Ordinary incandescent house bulbs may be used, but make specific that the snake are unable to burn up itself. These light weight bulbs get quite sizzling, and, if utilised in the slightest degree, should be protected having a mesh cage. Snakes are often burned whenever they climb much too close to warmth sources. Sand boas are not any exception, and can climb if supplied The chance.


It is a perpetual matter of discussion amid snake keepers. I presently retain all my sand boas on aspen bedding, Whilst over the years I’ve tried newspaper, sand, bark chips, savannah Wooden chips, and corncob substrate. Following are advantages and drawbacks of various substrate elements.

Aspen. This rather low cost bedding of shredded Wooden is light weight and easy for your snakes to burrow in, so I never even hassle with offering cover boxes in my tupperware tubs. Aspen is pretty appealing, and soaks up excretion swiftly. The just one down facet is that it is normally dusty. It is a good idea to shake it very well to eliminate the majority of the dust in advance of putting it into the enclosure.

Newspaper. This is the most financial substrate, but it really has lots of downsides. Newspaper, laid flat on the bottom in the terrarium, can not be location cleaned; alternatively it should be wholly taken out and replaced with new paper each individual week or two. Should you spill the drinking water bowl, It’s important to swap the whole lot. Also, newspaper doesn’t allow the snake to burrow, so you have to deliver hiding places (at the least two). What this means is far more cleaning. Nevertheless, Should you have enough time, newspaper is the most hygienic substrate.

Bark chips. I come across this to get the most aesthetically satisfying, but in addition quite possibly the most unhygienic substrate. When moist, bark chips supply favourable situations for small parasites. I found a rise in snake mites when I was using this substrate. Also, the colour of bark chips causes it to be difficult to location feces, which I consequently often inadvertently remaining inside the boxes for many years. I maintain planning to return to this sort of substrate for its overall look, however it just just isn’t well worth the trouble.

Savannah chips. These beechwood chips aren’t a terrific substrate for sand boas. Soon after a brief time they come to be compacted, producing a more durable substrate layer that is not as quick for that snakes to burrow less than. If this substrate turns into wet or soiled, fungal development appears a lot more speedily than with almost every other substrate I’ve employed. It’s also heavier than A few other substrates, and really high priced.

Sand. When individuals think about sand boas, they automatically assume that the very best substrate materials for these snakes could well be sand. But in actual fact, of all different species and forms of sand boas, there are in all probability only two that happen to be really sand dwellers, the Arabian as well as Saharan, and even these are generally rather content on lighter substrates such as aspen. Sand is extremely hefty, and a true drag to operate with. Some forms are really dusty. If it receives moist, sand requires a stunning amount of time to dry, and will preserve the extent of cage humidity superior for a number of days. I’ve also had negative encounters feeding snakes on this substrate. A sand boa can get a mouthful of indigestible sand along with a prey item, swallow everything jointly, and end up getting a intestine impaction. On the flip side, sand is not hard to identify clean having a sieve or scoop. Also, I feel sand is considered the most captivating to the eye, And that i utilize it in all of my Screen tanks.

Corncob. This substrate is light weight and fairly visually interesting. On the other hand, it ought to be averted at all prices. If ingested, corncob could potentially cause impaction during the intestine and has actually been regarded to get rid of tiny snakes, and it is actually no superior in any way than other substrates now stated.


In general, sand boas usually do not consume really approximately a number of other snakes, and It’s not at all critical which they generally have drinking water readily available. Hygiene is significant, and h2o supplied should often be clean, but If your bowl dries out for a brief time period, Don’t fret. I have discovered that taking away the h2o bowl stimulates a feeding response in finicky eaters.

When selecting a drinking water bowl, understand that sand boas are incredibly strong burrowers. The bowl doesn’t have to get hefty, but it really should sit flat, straight on the bottom with the enclosure. Sand boas are normally clumsy, and quickly knock about tiny bowls that are not of the ideal condition or are not positioned effectively. Tiny porcelain pet bowls can work very well. It is vital that the cage not become moist, so selecting the proper drinking water bowl is crucial.


Juvenile sand boas want a regular feeding every five seven times. They may have a better metabolic price than Grown ups, so burn off off their food items A great deal more rapidly. Child sand boas of all species are quite small. Some In particular Turkish, Javelin, and Russian sand boas might be even much too modest to feed on pinky mice. Test offering pinky mice in any case (you may well be stunned at the dimensions of prey they’re able to swallow), but if the snakes truly won’t be able to acquire them, you might have to work with pinkies of smaller sized rodents (such as Russian hamsters), or parts of larger sized rodents. Parts of the tail of the adult mouse generally will work.

Because the young snake grows, it could be stepped around having mouse fuzzies. I have discovered it superior for the snake to feed on 1 greater prey product rather then various smaller sized types. I choose feeding a single fuzzy rather than two or a few pinkies, and have discovered that the snakes mature a lot quicker with this technique.

Once the snake will be able to acquire compact to medium sized mice, a person feeding each individual seven 10 days is suitable, and a person feeding just about every fourteen times will suffice for Grown ups. Most Grownup sand boas can take adult mice or weaner rats. The best prey sizing is just a bit more substantial about when compared to the girth in the snake. Males frequently decide on not to feed for several weeks at a time, and many persons might eat only 6 10 times a calendar year. Women ought to be offered much more, and can conveniently accept. Breeders really should be supplied meals weekly.

From time to time, sand boas quit accepting meals, or, in the case of newborns, by no means even start to feed. Pursuing really are a couple strategies to aid get difficulty sand boas to take food stuff.

o The Before everything cause that juvenile and newly acquired snakes tend not to feed is unsuitable habitat enclosure dimension, substrate, hiding locations, heating, etc. Double check to make certain situations are accurate.

o The prey product may be the Completely wrong size. Sand boas even at times refuse meals which is much too little. They typically quickly acknowledge prey that is certainly about as large all over as They’re in the thickest position. Try feeding much larger foods goods in lieu of smaller types; this has labored for me specially with rough scaled sand boas.

o Prey species also can make a difference. Some people may want mice to rats, or vice versa. Try varying food merchandise, which include mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, chicks or small birds, and smaller lizards including Sceloporus or Anolis.

o If all else fails, my next step would be to “dry the snake out.” Remove the drinking water bowl and switch up the temperature a degree or two. Following a week, offer a dripping wet prey item, touching it into the snake’s mouth. Frequently the snake will drink from your meals, after which carry on to try to eat it. This method has worked several instances for me with tough scaled sand boas and Russian sand boas.

Table one. Overview of sand boa species that are available (or getting to be out there) during the interest.

Species/ Dimension (approximate) / Male / Woman / Temperament

Eryx jaculus jaculus

Javelin sand boa 12 18 in. (30 46 cm) 20 thirty in. (51 seventy six cm)

Really intense

Eryx jaculus familiaris

Bulgarian sand boa twelve eighteen in. (thirty forty six cm) eighteen 24 in. (forty six sixty one cm)

Quite docile

Eryx jaculus turcicus

Turkish sand boa 12 18 in. (thirty 46 cm) eighteen 24 in. (46 sixty one cm)

Typically docile

Eryx jayakari

Arabian sand boa sixteen in. (forty cm) sixteen in. (40 cm)

Commonly docile

Eryx johnii

Indian sand boa 24 30 in. (sixty one 76 cm) 30 forty eight in. (76 122 cm)

Extremely docile

Eryx miliaris miliaris

Russian sand boa 12 fifteen in. (thirty 38 cm) 20 28 in. (51 71 cm)

Frequently docile

Eryx miliaris nogaiorum

Black Russian sand boa 12 fifteen in. (thirty 38 cm) twenty 28 in. (fifty one 71 cm)

Normally docile

Eryx tataricus tataricus

Tartar sand boa 24 in. (61 cm) 36 in. (ninety one cm)

Typically docile

Eryx tataricus speciosus

Spotted sand boa 24 in. (61 cm) 36 in. (91 cm)

Typically docile

Gongylophis colubrinus

East African sand boa 15 18 in. (38 forty six cm) 24 36 in. (sixty one 91 cm)

Frequently docile

Gongylophis conicus

Rough scaled sand boa 15 in. (38 cm) 30 in. (seventy six cm)

Typically docile

Gongylophis muelleri

Saharan sand boa 24 in. (sixty one cm) thirty in. (76 cm)

Particularly docile

Common Care And Upkeep Of Sand Boas (Eryx   Gongylophis)

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