Colombian Rainbow (Brown Rainbow Boa)

By Snaketracks / June 9, 2019
Columbian Rainbow Boas
Colombian Rainbow (Brown Rainbow Boa)
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Colombian Rainbow Boa Care Sheet

Colombian rainbow boas are known for their vibrant coloration and iridescent luster, which is down the refractive nature of their scales. Also known as the brown rainbow boa because of their color, this snake is semi-arboreal, and doesn’t mind climbing onto branches.

Among the rainbow boas, the Colombian rainbow boa is easiest to care for especially since they require slightly less humidity. They can be found in the Amazon region of South America, and in Trinidad & Tobago.

Quick Reference

  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Boidae
  • Scientific Name: Epicrates maurus
  • Risk Factor: Nonvenomous, constrictor
  • Average Adult Size: 3 – 5 feet (0.9 m – 1.5 m)
  • Lifespan: 15 – 24 years
  • Clutch Size: 5 to 15 offspring
  • Gestation Period: 3-4 months
  • Food: Thawed feeder mice
  • Average Temperature: 90° H/68° L
  • Humidity: 75 – 80%
  • UVB Lighting: Optional
  • Average Price Range: $50 to $200
  • Conservation Status: No special status

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Columbian Rainbow Boa Facts and Information

Colombian rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchria maurus) crawling on the stone
Colombian rainbow boa (Epicrates cenchria maurus) crawling on the stone

The Colombian rainbow boa is known as Epicrates maurus and as such, it is a species on its own. However, this snake is also referred to as Epicrates cenchria maurus.

In this instance, it is considered a subspecies of the rainbow boa. It is closely related to other rainbow boas such as the Argentine rainbow boa, and the rainbow boa.

The Epicrates maurus belongs to the genus Epicrates and the family Boidae. The main difference between the Colombian rainbow boa and other rainbow boas is coloration. While the Colombian rainbow boa is brown in color, the other rainbow boas are vibrant orange and red in color.

The Colombian rainbow boa reaches lengths of 3 to 5 feet on average. However, they are known to grow to lengths of 6 to 7 feet. The females of this species are significantly larger than the males both in girth and in length.

This snake is uniformly brown with dark vertebral rings and light centers forming saddles. The color of this snake usually changes from during the day. In the night, the patterns on their skin are silvery while during the day the patterns darken. This phenomenon is referred to as metachrosis.

Brown Rainbow Boa Habitat

They are found in the rainforests, as well as coastal clearings of southern Central America, northern South America, and Trinidad & Tobago. The young climb trees so as to avoid predators and forage. Once they are adults, they hardly climb trees and spend most of their time on the ground.

Enclosure

You can keep them in glass terrarium like the Exo Terra above when they are younger, but as they grow we would recommend a larger wooden vivarium. If you still want to watch the snake, one side of the vivarium can have a glass panel.

Since wood is a great insulator, it will allow you to easily control the temperature within. Also, a wooden terrarium/vivarium provides better air circulation than a glass terrarium can.

The vivarium has to be 59 inches (150 cm) long, 24 inches (60 cm) high and 40 inches (100 cm) wide. They are large snakes that can grow up to 6 feet. As such, they need a lot of room to live comfortably. A large terrarium also allows you to create temperature gradients.

The enclosure needs a large basin of water. It should be large enough for the snake to lie entirely in it. The water should be clean and the bowl must be heavy. This prevents it from being easily tipped over.

Depending on the age, the boa may enjoy climbing. You can provide branches for them to climb onto. It is also important to provide hiding spots. This makes them feel safe and reduces stress.

An artificial cave such as the Exo Terra Reptile Cave or an overturned clayey plant pot with an opening is good hiding spot. The snake needs to be able to hide its entire body in this spot.

Ensure there is no escape. The rainbow boa will try to escape if they can and they are good at it. You can use screen clips or a fresh air screen cover to ensure the vivarium is properly secured.

Substrate

Substrates that help maintain high humidity is best. An example is coconut fiber bedding. Peat litter, aspen bedding or bark litter are suitable substitutes. You can also use newspapers.

Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding is an excellent bedding material. It helps maintain optimal humidity levels, and it’s nonabrasive. Coarse and abrasive materials such as sand and rocks should not be used as bedding material for the vivarium. 

Temperature

Patternless Columbian Rainbow Boa
Patternless Columbian Rainbow Boa

The daytime temperature of the vivarium needs to be 84 to 90 F (29 to 32 C), while the nighttime temperature needs to be 68 to 73 F (20 to 23 C). It is always a good idea to create a temperature gradient within the vivarium.

This ensures some parts of the vivarium are warmer than other parts. Since reptiles move between the warm and cool areas in other to regulate their temperature, a temperature gradient is desirable.

A heat mat can be placed under a third of the vivarium. This will warm up that part of the aquarium. The heat pad needs to achieve temperatures of 86 to 90 F. Prolonged temperatures over 90 F is detrimental to this species.

Use ceramic heat bulbs to maintain an air temperature of around 88 F during the day. A bulb guard should be used to protect the bulb and prevent injuries and damages.

Heat maps such as iPower Reptile Heat Pad can be used in conjunction with Zoo Med Digital Thermostat Controller to regulate the temperature of the vivarium.

Humidity

Rainbow boas need high humidity levels. A humidity level of 75 to 85 percent is necessary. The climate of your vicinity can make maintaining this humidity levels easy or not.

If you live in a place where humidity is already high, maintaining high humidity within the snake’s vivarium will be easy. However, if you live in a dry place, maintain high humidity levels will be difficult.

It is important to track humidity levels using a humidity monitor like the Zoo Med one pictured above.

The bedding of the vivarium can help keep humidity levels high. Cypress mulch, sphagnum, and green moss, and coconut fiber bedding retain moisture and promote high humidity. Mist the bedding daily to keep it moist. It is a good idea to provide a humid box of damp sphagnum moss.

Lighting

Lighting should be used to maintain a day-night cycle. This reptile requires 10-12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness each day. A day-night cycle reduces stress.

A fluorescent light can be used to provide 12 hours of light. Since they are nocturnal, the lights need to be off at night. This encourages the snake to be active. Use a timer such as the Century Digital Programmable Timer to ensure the lights come on and go off when they must. Alternatively, you can turn the lights off and on yourself.

Feeding the Colombian Rainbow Boa

In the wild, they eat small lizards, bats, birds, rodents and other small mammals. However, in captivity, you can feed your pet with thawed mice or chicks. Although you can offer live prey, it is best to offer dead prey as it is simply more practical.

During feeding, use a pair of tweezers or tongs as this prevents any accidental bites. If you feed the boa a live prey, supervise the feeding process. If there are several snakes housed in the same vivarium, separate them when feeding.

Feed the young every 5 or 6 days with a thawed mouse as large as the girth. Feed adults every 7 to 10 days. If they are any signs of obesity, reduce the frequency of feeding. The prey needs to be smaller than the widest portion of the snake. 

These boas can easily become obese. To prevent this, weigh your pet regularly and reduce the frequency of feeding if it is getting too heavy.

Always provide a basin of water. This water needs to be changed every other day. Also, change the water whenever it looks dirty. As already mentioned, these snakes frequently bathe in the water provided.

Colombian Rainbow Boa’s Temperament

Albino Columbian Rainbow Boa
Albino Columbian Rainbow Boa

They are docile gentle creatures, and this makes them easy to handle. Lift them with both hands when handling them or use a snake hook. You should never be rough. Also, it is a bad idea to hang the snake around your neck as they may clamp around your neck if they think they are falling.

Hatchlings are feisty and nippy, but they will calm down as they grow older and you handle them regularly.

Ensure your hands are clean before you touch them. Don’t handle them during the night and when they are shedding.

You should NEVER leave a boa with children or pets, as it may attack them.

Colombian Rainbow Boa’s Lifespan

Ghost Columbian Rainbow Boa (Epicrates cenchria maurus)
Ghost Columbian Rainbow Boa (Epicrates cenchria maurus)

It is difficult to conclusively determine the lifespan of the wild populations. It is, however, much easier to document their life expectancy in captivity. On average, captive members of this species have lifespans of 15 to 20 years.

Breeding Colombian Rainbow Boas

Females reach maturity when they are about four and a half feet long, while males reach maturity when they are about four feet long. While they are not the easiest snakes to breed, breeding has been done successfully and repeatedly by snake breeders around the world.

The breeding period is triggered by the shortening of the day and falling temperatures. When the days are shorter and the temperature drops to 60 F, it encourages them to breed. Mating occurs about a month and half of wintering period.

Gestation period usually takes about 4 months. Since females are ovoviviparous, they give birth to live young. A gravid female births 5 to 15 at a time.

Health Issues

Granit Columbian rainbow boa
Granit Columbian rainbow boa

It is important that the vivarium is always clean. All excrement must be removed as soon as possible. In the same way, ensure the bedding is changed regularly. The water provided need to be changed when it is dirty, this should be every 3 days. The enclosure has to be cleaned once a week.

To prevent a build-up for bacteria, the vivarium needs to be disinfected using a 10% bleach solution. The vivarium needs to be properly rinsed with clean water and allowed to dry after it is disinfected.

While they hardly get ill, watch out for symptoms such as dry wrinkly scales, recurrent vomiting, excessive mucus, difficulty breathing and denting eye.

A major cause of premature death among rainbow boas is dehydration and overheating. This is particularly true of Brazilian rainbow boas. Colombian rainbow boas are much more resilient. However, ensure temperature and humidity levels are optimal.

Pricing and Availability

This species is readily available at moderate prices. On average, these snakes will cost you about $60. However, the morphs are much more expensive and can reach prices of $1000.

Common morphs include leucistic, albino, het, black-eyed, blue-eyed, snow (albino x anery) and anery.

Popular sites you can purchase them from include Morph Market, BHB Reptiles, and Snakes at Sunset.

Conservation/Threats

Since this species fall under the CITES Appendix II, you need transfer/CITES papers when you acquire a specimen. You have to ensure you get these papers when you purchase a brown rainbow boa.

This species does not have any IUCN Redlist status.

Columbian Rainbow Boa Setup Video

Conclusion

While not as popular as the Brazilian rainbow boa, the Colombian rainbow boa is still easy to find. Because of their strict humidity requirement, beginners may find them difficult to maintain.

Regardless of that, many reptile pet keepers and breeders consider them to be the easiest of all the species of the genus Epicrates. Due to selective breeding, there are several morphs of thus snake available.

However, before you acquire this snake, ensure you are ready for the commitment and care that comes with it. If you have any comments, kindly leave them. We would love to hear from you.

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