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Old 07-20-04, 01:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Lightbulb Amazon/Emerald FAQ: Check here first!

<b><u><i>Emerald/Amazon Tree Boa FAQ</i></u>

What humidity level should I keep my boa at?</b>
Amazons and Emeralds are susceptable to low humidity levels, while at the same time you do not want them developing scale rot. Humidity should be cycled at 60%(night) - 80%(day). Use a hygrometer to measure this.

<B>What temperature should my boa be kept at?</b>
I find a temperature of 75-85 works well for most boas. Temperatures exceeding these can prove harmful, as these snakes operate at lower temperatures than most terrestrial boids.

<b>How should I measure the temperature?</b>
Stick on thermometers do not work well. To measure the temps in your cage, a temp gun or digital thermometer with a remote probe that can be placed in various areas around the cage will be your best options.

<b>What is the best way to heat my snake?</b>
Being primarily arboreal, these snakes make good candidates for radiant heat panels. I've had good success using heat tape to heat these types of snakes as well. Incandescent bulbs and ceramic heat emitters can be used as well, however they may also contribute to the cage humidity drying out quicker.

<b>What wattage bulb should I use?</b>
Nobody can tell you, as it will be different with each home and enlcosure. You will need to experiment to see which fits your situation best.

<b>What kind of enclosure should I have?</b>
Babies can be housed in rubbermaids with holes drilled for ventilation, and older snakes can be housed in custom enclosures. Tanks can also be used, however they aren't the best choice IMHO as they do not offer any security, control over humidity, or insulation for maintenance of temperature, in addition to which they are quite cumbersome and inefficient space-wise.

<b>What is the best substrate?</b>
You should avoid any softwoods, such as pine, fir, and especially cedar! These contain phenols which can be harmful to your snake, some can even be potentially fatal! Some safe substrates include, but are not limited to, newspaper, papertowel, Carefresh, flannel sheeting, and cypress mulch. Susbtrates that should be avoided include, but are not limited to, astro-turf, gravel, softwood mulch/chips, and sand. Note that most loose substrates come with inherant risk of ingestion, which can pose problems such as impaction. A layer of water can also be used as substrate for ETB, however not for ATB as they do come down to the ground from time to time. This will help maintain humidity, however it must be kept clean at all times, making it not the most suitable substrate for all keepers.

<b>How big will my boa get?</b>
On average, you can expect your Amazon to attain length of 4'-5', sometimes exceeding this. Emeralds typically stay around 5'-6', with some basins attaining lengths of 6'-8'.

<b>How much should I feed my boa?</b>
Your snake will tell you when it is in need of a meal and what kind of meals it prefers, until you learn to read your snakes behaviours you can use this general guideline. Emeralds can be fed meals 3/4 the size of their girth every 7-10 days as babies, and every 2 weeks as adults. Care must be taken not to feed large or frequent meals, as these snakes have more sensitive systems and a slower metabolism, and can be prone to regurgitation. Amazons are far less sensitive, and can actually take quite large meals compared to their size. They can bed fed every 5-7 days as babies and every 7-10 days as adults.

<b>What should I feed my boa?</b>
Both are best kept to a diet of mice or rats in captivity. Although chicks have been popular in the past, there is some quetion as to a relation to Emerald Regurgitation Syndrome.

<b>Why won't my boa eat?</b>
Some boas may need a week or so to settle in before they feel comfortable feeding, so it is a good idea to leave them alone in the beginning. If your boa still won't eat you need to assess the situation carefully. Is your snake sick? If so, a trip to the vet may be in order. If not, are you feeding your boa what it was feeding on before? If so, are your temperatures ok within the cage? Is it possible your snake may be feeling "exposed"? Some snakes prefer to have several hides placed in their cages. This is especially noted in open enclosures such as glass terrariums. Is it possible that your snake is being stressed out? Are you handling it a lot or is it an a busy area of the home, or perhaps a family pet is hanging around a lot? Non-feeding snakes need the utmost privacy until they begin feeding reliably. Making sure the prey is warm when offered is also important, as these animals rely quite heavily on their heat-sensing pits.

<b>Is my boa sick?</b>
The most common ailments in captive snakes are parasitic, bacterial and respiratory infections. If your snake is having runny defecations, not eating well, lethargic, regurgitating, underweight (losing weight or having trouble gaining), sitting with it's head facing the sky ("stargazing"), and gaping it's mouth, your snake may be suffering from a parasitic or bacterial infection. A fecal flotation and smear as well as a tracheal wash/culture should be done to determine the exact culprit, and appropriate medicinal treatment should be followed. If your snake is making gurgling sounds from the throat, popping or other obvious breathing sounds, blowing bubbles from the mouth, gaping his/her mouth, "stargazing", and congested with mucus, it likely has a respiratory infection. A culture should be taken to determine the type of antibiotic treatment that would best cure it. During treatment periods, it may be helpful to slightly increase the overall temperatures in the cage (from the above mentioned temperatures) to help "burn" out the sickness, much like a simulated fever.

<b>Why is my boa soaking?</b>
If your boa is soaking in his dish, there may be a few reasons. Mites are a common reason a snake may soak. Do you see little black specks in his water or crawling on your snake? Your snake may also soak if the humidity is too low in the tank. Your snake may also be soaking if the temperatures in the cage are too hot. Also the use of hides may help to alleviate this behaviour. While ATB may spend some time on the ground, it is an increasingly alarming sign to find your ETB on the ground or in his dish. Attention needs to be paid immediately to find the problem. Sick snakes may also soak in their dishes.

<b>How do I get rid of mites?</b>
There are several ways to get rid of mites, each with their own pros and cons. Some of the most popular treatments include Nix lice shampoo (available in your local pharmacy), Black Knight roach killer, Provent-a-Mite (same ingredient as Nix), and Reptile Relief. Regardless of the treatment, the snake should be soaked in water for a little while to rid it of any mites before putting it back in the enclosure (I prefer to add a few drops of Ivory dishsoap to the water - make sure if you add soap, it is very gentle, not antibacterial), and the enclosure should be thoroughly cleaned and disnfected using your choice of cleaning agent and hot water. Mites can get in to, and lay eggs in the tiniest of crevices. If you have any wood, it should be thrown out or baked/boiled to kill any mites/eggs. If you are using decorative setups, it is best to switch to functional setups with only the necessary items and newspaper/paper towel as substrate. Nix should be diluted one bottle to one gallon of water and sprayed over entire enclosure (excluding water bowl). Allow to dry and place the snake (rinsed in clean water if it was soaked in soap) back in the enclosure. Some people recommend keeping a bowl or water in, but during the treatment I feel it is best to leave it out so the snake cannot drag any Nix in to it and drink it. Make sure you offer your snake water once a day if you do this.
With BK it should be sprayed lightly inside enclosure and closed for a bit to allow the aerosols to get in to any crevices. I prefer put substrate over top, but it can also be sprayed over substrate as well. Allow to air out thoroughly before placing snake inside. Again, water bowl should only be placed in after it has thoroughly aired out.
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