Dumeril’s Boa Care Sheet: Crucial Info All Owners Should Know

The Dumeril’s boa, Acrantophis dumerili, has a great temperament. It makes a wonderful pet snake for the intermediate snake keeper.

Acrantophis dumerili has a lot going for it when considering a new species to add to your reptile collection.

This article will outline information about Dumeril’s boa care.

About the Dumeril’s Boa

  • We don’t recommend Dumeril’s boas for newbie snake keepers.
  • Acrantophis dumerili is readily and legally available through breeders.
  • According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Dumeril’s boa is vulnerable to human encroachment.
  • The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) classifies Acrantophis dumerili as a species in danger of extinction.
Dumerils Boa on the forest floor
The coloration of the Dumeril’s boa helps it blend in with the forest floor.

What do Dumeril’s Boas Look Like?

Dumeril’s boas have a stocky build.

The coloration of this snake’s skin varies widely. It can range from tan, to brown, peach, gray, red, or green.

Closeup of a Dumeril's Boa's head
This picture reveals the color variation found in Dumeril’s boas.

People often confuse the Dumeril’s boa and the Madagascar ground boa, Acrantophis madagascariensis, which have similar appearances.

Dumeril’s Boa against a blurry green background
The Dumeril’s boa has a close resemblance to the Madagascar ground boa.
Madagascar Ground Boa
The Madagascar ground boa.

Dumeril’s Boa Size

A medium-sized snake, adult Dumeril’s boas average three to six feet in length. Females are larger than males.

Baby Dumeril’s boas measure 12 to 18 inches in length.

Dumeril’s boas have a slow growth rate, so it can take three to five years for them to reach maturity.

The similar Madagascar ground boa, Acrantophis madagascariensis, is a larger snake. Adult females sometimes reach ten feet long.

Habitat and Distribution of the Dumeril’s Boa

These reptiles come from southwestern Madagascar. They inhabit drier regions, where there’s minimal rainfall.

Still, their habitat isn’t desert-like, something important to keep in mind when setting up their enclosure.

This snake is a ground dweller, and it’s active at night. They prefer the dry forest floor where leaf litter accumulates.

Where Can I get a Dumeril’s Boa?

They’re readily available online through breeders, though you can sometimes find them for sale at reptile expos. Only captive-bred Dumeril’s boas are available for sale.

We recommend getting your pet snake from a reputable breeder, as you’ll be more likely to get a healthy reptile.

Is the Dumeril’s Boa a Threatened Species?

CITES classifies Acrantophis dumerili as an Appendix I species, meaning that it’s at risk of extinction.

IUCN lists these snakes as being vulnerable due to habitat destruction, war, and other forms of human encroachment.

How Long do Dumeril’s Boas Live?

The lifespan for Dumeril’s boas ranges from 10 to 20 years. Captive specimens may live for more than 20 years.

Dumeril’s Boa Enclosure Size

As Dumeril’s boas are ground-dwelling, you should focus on the length of the enclosure. But of course, the enclosure height is still important to consider.

This snake will climb given the opportunity; plus, climbing is a form of enrichment.

  • For baby Dumeril’s boas (two feet or less in length), an enclosure measuring 2′ (L) x 1.5′ (W) x 1.5′ (H) is adequate.
  • For young Dumeril’s boas and sub-adults (between two and five feet in length), the enclosure should measure 4′ (L) x 2′ (W) x 2′ (H).
  • The housing for adult snakes (six to eight feet in length) should measure 6′ (L) x 2′ (W) x 2′ (H).
  • You should house Dumeril’s boas larger than eight feet in an enclosure that’s 8′ (L) x 2′ (W) x 2′ (H).

The opening to the enclosure should be in the front as opposed to the top. In the wild, predators of snakes often strike from above.

Having the opening of the enclosure in front will make your snake feel more secure, and it will be easier for you when you’re maintaining the enclosure.

Furnishing a Dumeril’s Boa Enclosure

By adding certain elements to the boa’s enclosure, you can make it feel secure.

The following segments cover elements that you should include in your pet snake’s enclosure:

Water Dish

Equip the enclosure with a water dish that’s large enough for your Dumeril’s boa to submerge itself completely.

Change the water whenever it’s dirty and at least twice a week regardless of the water’s appearance.

Hides

Dumeril’s boas are shy snakes, so providing hide boxes for your pet is important.

The hides need to be big enough for your snake to coil up completely inside them. They shouldn’t be any larger than that.

To feel secure, your snake needs to be able to feel the walls of the hides touching its scales.

For smaller snakes, this is easy. Many pet stores sell artificial caves, hollow logs, or other ornaments that make good hides.

For large snakes, you may have to make a hide yourself. Hides for larger snakes can range from 18 x 18 inches to 18 x 24 inches.

You can use an upside-down storage tub or kitty litter tray and cut an entry hole on the side. Provide two to three hides in the enclosure.

Place one hide box on each end of the exhibit so that your snake will have a place to hide on either end of the thermal gradient.

Humid Hides

You can choose to use the hide box on the cooler end of the enclosure, or to provide a third hide as a humid box.

Whichever you choose, line one of the hides with damp sphagnum moss to create a humid retreat. Spray the sphagnum moss as needed to keep it moist.

The moss will provide a high-humidity area during shedding time to help your Dumeril’s boa shed successfully.

Branches

While Dumeril’s boas spend most of their time on the ground, giving them an opportunity to climb will serve as a form of enrichment for them.

As part of your Dumeril’s boa care, install branches that are large enough to support your snake’s weight.

It’s also important to secure the branches so that they don’t topple while your snake is climbing on them.

For plastic or glass enclosures, you can use wire to secure the branches. If the enclosure is made of wood, you can use screws to secure the branches.

If you use screws, make sure not to leave any exposed that could injure your snake.

Enclosure Construction

Whether you’re purchasing an enclosure or building it yourself, it’s important to consider the materials used to construct the enclosure. Let’s take a look at common enclosure materials:

Glass

The disadvantages of glass enclosures are:

  • They’re less durable.
  • They’re more expensive.
  • They make it more difficult to maintain consistent temperatures and humidity levels.

The advantage of using glass enclosures is that glass is great for dissipating heat.

Yes, the disadvantage of using glass (maintaining consistent temperatures and humidity levels) is an advantage when keeping Dumeril’s boas!

As a building material, glass is great when it comes to dissipating heat. This quality helps maintain temperature gradients (see the Temperature section).

Glass enclosures are also easy to clean.

Pro Tip: If you select a glass enclosure, tape construction paper to cover all sides of the enclosure, except the front.

By covering up the sides of the tank, your snake will feel more secure and won’t feel like it’s in an open and exposed area.

PVC and HDPE

Enclosures made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and HDPE (high-density polyethylene) are popular with reptile keepers because:

  • They’re durable.
  • They retain heat and humidity.
  • They’re lightweight and easy to clean.
  • They’re opaque, which gives reptiles a sense of security.

Wood and Melamine

Hobbyists who build their own enclosures often use wood. It has the advantage of being easy to obtain, lightweight, and inexpensive.

Wood and melamine (a kind of plastic) don’t hold up well to humidity.

Wood can also rot and become moldy, so you should treat it with a non-toxic waterproofing sealer.

Don’t use sealants that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs can be harmful to humans, and reptiles are especially sensitive to them.

Recommended sealants include:

  • Epoxy
  • Kennel Seal
  • Pond Armor

Dumeril’s Boa Care

The care of Dumeril’s boas isn’t difficult. However, some of the care requirements for this snake differ from other boas. The following are the care requirements for this reptile.

Substrate

In Madagascar, the natural habitat of Acrantophis dumerili is the dry leaf litter of the dry forest floor. The leaf litter gives them a place to burrow.

When choosing a substrate for your snake, it’s important to remember that they like to burrow.

The substrate for your pet snake should be at least four to six inches deep.

Besides allowing your snake to burrow, the proper substrate will also help regulate the enclosure’s humidity.

The most recommended substrates for Dumeril’s boas are:

  • Exo Terra Desert Sand, Red: Costs around $15/10lbs.
  • Zoo Med Reptisand, Natural Red: Costs around $15/10lbs.
  • Lugarti Natural Reptile Bedding: It will cost you about $11 for a 10-quart bag.
  • The BioDude Terra Sahara: Around $50 for 36 quarts. While expensive, it will last a long time.
  • A 60% topsoil, 40% play sand blend. It’s easy to make, and the topsoil and play sand are also cheap and widely available.
  • Jurassic Reptile Substrate: While expensive ($20 for 4 quarts), this substrate closely resembles the Dumeril’s boa’s natural habitat.

Pro Tip: Regardless of the substrate that you use, add leaf litter to it. Your Dumeril’s boa will love it!

Other acceptable substrates include:

  • Reptichip
  • Aspen chips
  • Cypress mulch (don’t use the blend)

Your most basic substrate options would be:

  • Newspaper
  • Paper towels
  • Butcher paper

The most basic substrates are best for snakes that are in quarantine.

These substrates make it easy to detect any mites, and they’re easy to clean. However, they offer no enrichment for your Dumeril’s boa.

Don’t use cedar or pine shavings for reptiles. Cedar or pine shavings contain oils and fumes that can cause burns and neurological damage to your pet.

Lighting

Even though these snakes are nocturnal, we recommend providing UVB lighting as part of a Dumeril’s boa care.

UVB lighting has been shown to provide long-term benefits to the health of a Dumeril’s boa.

For Dumeril’s boas, it’s best to use low-intensity fluorescent lighting. Recommended bulbs include:

It’s important to replace the bulbs every 12 months as they diminish in their output with time, even if they’re working.

When using UVB lighting, it’s important that the bulb is the proper distance from your Dumeril’s boa to ensure that it doesn’t get underexposed or overexposed to the UVB lighting.

You can estimate the distance by using the following guidelines:

  • If the UVB bulb doesn’t have a protective screen, it should be 12-15 inches above the basking area.
  • If a protective screen or mesh surrounds the UVB bulb, the bulb should be 9-12 inches above the snake’s basking area.

Pro Tip: When you buy them, UVB bulbs are sometimes covered with a plastic or glass protective sleeve. Be sure to remove the sleeve, or the bulb won’t be able to emit UVB rays.

We recommend offering your Dumeril’s boa a day and night cycle. An automatic timer will make this much easier for you.

You can adjust the lighting to the seasonal cycles by setting the timer. The following guidelines mimic a Dumeril’s boa’s natural seasonal exposure to light in the wild:

  • During Spring, offer 12 hours of light per day.
  • In Summer, offer 13 hours of light.
  • During Fall, offer 12 hours of light.
  • For Winter, offer 11 hours of light.

Dumeril’s Boa Temperature Requirements

Warm-blooded animals can make adjustments to their body temperature internally. They don’t depend on the temperature of their surroundings to achieve their optimal temperature.

Dumeril’s boas, like other reptiles, are unable to regulate their body temperature internally.

They depend on their surrounding temperature to achieve their optimal temperature.

Part of a Dumeril’s boa care includes setting up the enclosure so that there’s a cool side and a warm side; thus, creating a thermal gradient for your reptile:

  • Keep the warm side between 86-88°F (30-31°C).
  • The cool side of the enclosure can be from 70-75°F (21-24°).
    Dumerils Ground Boa on white background
    Dumeril’s Boas love to bask, and appreciate a basking lamp.
  • At night, the temperature for Dumeril’s boas can drop to 68-75°F (21-24°C).

You may be able to reach the nighttime temperature simply by turning off the heat source of your Dumeril’s boas.

If the nights are too cool, you can provide your Dumeril’s boas with a heat panel.

Humidity

The southeast coast of Madagascar only receives an annual rainfall of 250 mm.

The habitat of Acrantophis dumerili is dry. However, that doesn’t mean that humidity isn’t important to these snakes.

You should keep the humidity levels for these snakes between 40-60%.

Depending on the humidity level of your area, you might be able to achieve the recommended range by hand misting the animal’s home.

A large water dish can also help to attain the correct humidity level. You can also get an automatic mister.

Heating a Dumeril’s Boa Enclosure

There are many useful devices for heating a Dumeril’s boa enclosure. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best options:

Halogen Flood Heat Lamp

In nature, the land is heated by the sun, not from below ground. Yet, keepers often use heating pads to warm the enclosure.

This makes no sense, especially if you’re dealing with burrowing reptiles. Burrowing reptiles go underground to escape the heat.

For this reason, halogen flood heat lamps are the best option for heating the enclosures of Dumeril’s boas.

Depending on the temperature of your room and the height of the enclosure, the wattage of the bulb will probably range between 75 and 100.

You can also consider using a dimmer switch to lower the temperature if the enclosure gets too hot.

Radiant Heat Panel and Ceramic Heaters

You can use these heat sources for Dumeril’s boas at night. However, you shouldn’t use them for daytime heating.

Ceramic heaters emit ambient heat, which is the weakest kind of infrared heat. However, it will replicate the heat that wild Dumeril’s boas experience at night.

If the enclosure is large, radiant heat panels would be more effective than ceramic heaters for keeping the temperature up at night.

Heat Mats

Keepers commonly use heat mats with terrestrial snakes; however, you should use them with a thermostat.

Use them to heat hide boxes or other hiding areas, as they’re not powerful enough to heat the air.

Never use heat rocks with reptiles as they may burn animals that come into contact with them.

Always cover a halogen bulb with a wire mesh to prevent your snake from coming in contact with it.

Feeding Dumeril’s Boas

Dumeril’s boas will eat mice and rats. However, you can also feed them:

  • Quail
  • Chicks
  • Gerbils
  • Hamsters
  • Guinea pigs

As with other animals, it’s better to feed your snake a variety of prey items. Doing so will give your snake a broader range of nutrition.

You should only feed dead feeders to Dumeril’s boas. Live prey, especially rats and mice, may injure or even kill snakes.

Sometimes, Dumeril’s boas won’t eat dead feeders. If this happens, never put live feeders in the snake’s cage and walk away.

Watch the feeder carefully to make sure the prey doesn’t harm your snake. If your snake doesn’t eat it, take the prey out of the cage!

What Size Prey Should You Feed Dumeril’s Boas?

The prey item should be no larger than the widest part of your snake’s body.

It’s better to err on the side of caution and provide slightly smaller prey than to give your boa food that’s too big.

How Much Should You Feed Dumeril’s Boas?

The best way to work out how much to feed your snake is by weight.

Weigh the food items and then refer to the following guidelines for how much to feed your snake per meal:

  • Feed baby Dumeril’s boas ( under 22″ long) 20-30 grams.
  • Give juvenile Dumeril’s boas (2-3′ long) prey weighing 30-40 grams.
  • Older juvenile Dumeril’s boas (3-4′ long) can consume 40-70 grams.
  • Small adult and subadult Dumeril’s boas (4-6′ long) can have 70-130 grams.
  • Give large adult Dumeril’s boas (7′ and longer) 130-250 grams.

How Often Should You Feed Your Dumeril’s Boa?

  • You should feed baby and juvenile Dumeril’s boas (less than 3′ in length) every 7-10 days.
  • Subadult Dumeril’s boas (longer than 3′ in length) can eat every 14-20 days.
  • Feed adult Dumeril’s boas (Over 3′ feet in length or no longer growing) every 21-28 days.

Is it Normal for Dumeril’s Boas to Stop Eating Sometimes?

Yes it is. As with all snakes, Dumeril’s Boas will stop eating before shedding.

The change of seasons can also affect your snake’s appetite. Adult Dumeril’s boas often stop eating during winter.

However, baby snakes will continue to eat during winter if kept warm.

As long as your snake’s overall condition looks good and it has a good body weight, there should be no need for concern. Continue to offer your snake food every two weeks.

Pro Tip: The Dumeril’s boa is nocturnal, which is when it does most of its hunting. If you have a picky snake that’s not eating, try feeding it at night.

What Do I Do with a Dumeril’s Boa That Will Only Eat Live Feeders?

As stated earlier, you shouldn’t offer live prey to snakes as live prey may injure or even kill snakes.

But, what do you do if your snake refuses to make the transition from live food to dead feeders? Try this trick:

First, get your snake hungry by skipping a feeding.

Next, it’s important to remember that some snake species, like boas, detect their warm-blooded prey through the use of special sensory organs.

Closeup of Madagascar a dumeril's boa's head
As with other boas, Dumeril’s boa has heat sensory pits along their jaws. They are used to detect warm-blooded prey.

It may not be enough to thaw your frozen feeders; try warming them up. You can do this by putting the thawed feeder in a plastic zip-lock bag and letting it float in warm water.

You can also try putting the thawed feeder under a heat lamp or warming it up with a hairdryer.

When the feeder is warm, present it to your snake. You can also use tongs to present the feeder to your snake.

Handling a Dumeril’s Boa

Dumeril’s boas have a great temperament and rarely bite.

However, we recommend observing the following guidelines for the safety of your snake and yourself:

Use Snake Hooks

Snake hooks are useful for handling your snake, especially when you first get to know your boa.

Use the snake hook when you need to remove the snake from its home. To do this, open the snake’s cage and give it a gentle nudge to get its attention.

You can tell that your snake’s attention is on you when its tongue starts to flicker.

When you have your snake’s attention, you can use the hook to remove it from its home. You can use your hands to handle the snake when it has been safely removed.

Dumeril’s boas are bulky snakes, so it’s important to support the snake’s body. Never hold your snake by the end of its tail or by its neck. Doing this can lead to spinal injury.

Keep a close eye on your snake while handling it and become familiar with its body language.

If your Dumeril’s boa rapidly flicks its tongue from a coiled position, it may be preparing for a strike.

If you observe this behavior, distract the snake to get its attention away from you.

Don’t Rush the Introduction

Take it slow when getting acquainted with your snake. It’s important to give your snake time to get used to you.

Don’t handle your Dumeril’s boa for the first few days so that it can get used to its new home.

When you first start handling your snake, do so only for three to five minutes every other day for a week. You can gradually increase the time as your snake gets to know you.

Regardless of how well your snake responds to you, don’t handle it for more than 20-30 minutes at a time.

Don’t handle your snake for 24-48 hours after feeding it. Doing so may lead to it regurgitating its food.

We hope you enjoyed this article. For more information about keeping boas, check out our care sheets for the Rosy Boa and Kenyan Sand Boa.

Alternatively, viper boas make good display animals for experienced keepers who are looking for a challenge.

Are you planning on getting a Dumeril’s boa? Let us know in the comments.

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