Kenyan Sand Boa: Facts, Lifespan, Care, Feeding, & Breeding

Kenyan Sand Boas (Gongylophis colubrinus) is one of the most popular Boa species in the pet trade.

Although their name may suggest that they come strictly from Kenya, they originate from areas of Northeast Africa and inhabit countries such as Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Kenya. Their natural environment is semi-desert, dry areas with hot temperatures, rocks, and sandy soil.

The reason for Sand Boa’s enormous popularity is their uniquely docile nature and small size, making them very suitable and easy even for novice pet reptile owners. On top of that, they don’t require any special treatment, which is a big plus when it comes to handling these pets.

Kenyan Sand Boa is a beautiful creature with attractive colors and incredible behavior, making them very suitable for pet use. With all that in mind, let’s take a closer look at this amazing species.

Kenyan Sand Boa Size & Lifespan

This species is unique for its small size – Kenyan Sand Boa usually come with small heads, eyes, and their short tails, making them relatively easy to handle. Females are known to be larger than male, with males growing up to 20 inches and females up to 25 inches.

One thing to keep in mind is that Kenyan Sand Boa is a long-term commitment, given that this species is known to survive up to 30 years in captivity.

Kenyan Sand Boa Facts & Characteristic

These snakes have a lot of unique features about them, and we will cover them all in this article.

It’s really important to take note of their extremely docile nature since this is usually the most important thing for most pet owners. Kenyan Sand Boas are not trouble-makers and will make a calm, peaceful pet in most cases. However, as is the case with most snakes – you should be careful when handling them, but we’ll get to that later.

Another reason for Sand Boas being very beginner friendly is, of course, their size. Since they’re very small and slow moving on top of that, they will be relatively easy to handle – and that’s always a good thing, especially for novice snake owners.

As for their natural behavior, they are known to be a burrowing species, preferring to stay underground most of the time, waiting for the correct time to pop out. During the day under hot temperatures, you should not expect to see them a whole lot, but during the night they feel way more comfortable with peaking out and having some fun. This obviously has some advantages as well as disadvantages, so you should keep it in mind.

Perhaps the best thing about this species is their magnificent colors, especially their morphs. Their natural color is a creamy white body with yellow, orange and brown spots all over. However, the most beautiful appearances and colors usually come from one of their morphs.

Sand Boa Morphs

As is the case with many snakes, East African Boas was also subject to a lot of morphing, especially after their rise in popularity within the pet community. Now, they come in various morphs and colors, highlighting their magnificent appearance.

Some of the most popular Kenyan Sand Boa morphs are:

Albino Sand Boa

Albino Sand Boa
Albino Sand Boa Source

Snow Sand Boa

Snow Sand Boa Face Picture
Snow Sand Boa Source

Nuclear Sand Boa

Nuclear Sand Boa top view
Nuclear Sand Boa Source

Paradox Sand Boa

Paradox Sand Boa
Paradox Sand Boa Source

Anerythristic Sand Boa

Anerythristic Sand Boa
Anerythristic Sand Boa Source

As their name suggests, they come in a lot of different colors. Our personal favorites are definitely Snow & Nuclear Kenyan Sand Boas. And you may be wondering “why?”.

Snow morph is one of the best because it gives unique, crystal snow-like appearance that really stands out, especially in darker substrates. This specific appearance merely is majestic, and you should definitely give it a shot. And the second one, Nuclear morph comes with really unique and amazing red colors that are simply designed to capture your attention. This is a really good coloring, especially on brighter surfaces like aspen.

Bite

As for the bite, you’re probably wondering…

“Are they poisonous?” 

The answer is – No. Kenyan Sand Boas are non-venomous species. Instead, they are constrictor snakes that wrap around their prey to suffocate it, after which they proceed to ingest it. Although their bite won’t make you sick, it is still a bad idea to get bitten as it can cause some pain and discomfort. Besides, if you give your snake a reason to bite you, it means that your pet was probably heavily stressed out, and that’s always a bad sign.

Kenyan Sand Boas rarely bite humans, but if they do so, then it’s because they’ve been exposed to stress. If you notice that your pet has become nervous, it’s best to leave it alone for a while and come back later.

Handling

Handling Kenyan Sand Boa should not be a difficult task at all. As a matter of fact, they are relatively friendly species that doesn’t mind being handled. However, they’re still snakes, so it’s best to keep your contact to a minimum.

When handing your Sand Boa, make sure you use slow and steady movements. If you’re trying to grab your pet, always approach from the top and never grab their front side, as they may mistake you for prey. When being handled from the middle/rear end, they get comfortable with your hand and from there on it’s an easy task. Since they’re burrowing species, they may try to take shelter inside of your clothes, so keep a close eye on them.

Feeding 

When it comes to nutrition and feeding, Kenyan Sand Boa is the ideal species.

Feeding your Sand Boa is incredibly easy, they don’t require complex foods or any special preparation. In fact, you can just feed them one mouse, once every 7-10 days. For baby snakes, simply use a pinky mouse to make it easier for them to digest, and feed them more often so they can grow quickly and develop fully.

It’s best to use frozen and thawed prey rather than a live one, as it can cause some damage to your pet. Live prey can cause bite wounds, and that’s bad for your pet, so it’s best to stick to frozen/thawed food to prevent that from happening.

Ideal feeding times are during the night, as the snake likes to rest during the day. Keep in mind that during it’s shedding cycle, your pet may refuse to digest the food, so make sure you let it shed in peace and don’t take it for a sign of bad health.

Additionally, you can keep a small water dish, large enough, so it’s not spilled over, but still small enough, so it doesn’t cause any trouble. Snakes are known to get most of their water needs from food. However, it’s still a good idea to have a water dish, especially during shedding periods where they don’t consume any food.

Sand Boa Care

Taking care of your Sand Boa should be a relatively easy task. We already mentioned their docile nature and small size, the only thing you should keep in your mind is the tank, and its specifications, which is also an easy task.

Housing/Habitat

When it comes to their housing, it’s best to keep it as natural as possible, mimicking those desert areas of Northeastern Africa. Here are some general guidelines for housing Kenyan Sand Boa:

  • At least 10 gallon terrarium
  • Temperatures from 85 to 95 degree F
  • Humidity very low, below 30% at all times
  • Softer substrate – aspen / sand and similar
  • Container with secure lid and preferably some air holes
  • Decorations: Minimal

This species requires very little space, and they are quite comfortable in 10-gallon terrariums. You should pay special attention to temperature, keep an under tank heater/heat pad and use a thermostat to control the temperature. You can let it fall down to 85F during the night and during mating season. Your heater should be on at all times, especially if you have a pregnant female at your hands.

Special lighting is unnecessary, Kenyan Sand Boas are quite comfortable with minimal light, and they only require some slight bright light during the day. You don’t need to use decorations as this species will always prefer to burrow, but you can use some cork bark and other light decorations. Do not use heavy rocks as they may hurt, even kill your pet when it’s burrowing. Plants and logs are also necessary as Sand Boas are not climbing species.

As for the substrate, even though their name may imply so – sand is actually not the best substrate. The reason is that it may get stuck in their gut during feeding periods, causing internal problems that can make your pet sick. An ideal substrate would be something like aspen bedding, which is less likely to cause problems during ingestion.

Keep the environment and substrate as dry as possible, and make sure your water dish doesn’t spill which can cause humidity issues. This can be a problem for some snakes, so it’s best to keep it as dry as possible.

Kenyan Sand Boa Breeding

With its reputation of being one of the best beginner snake pets, Kenyan Sand Boa is also very easy to breed. They have no problems to mate in captivity, so that’s another plus.

Before you attempt to breed them, you should know to differentiate males and females, which is easy given that they are dimorphic species, with differences in sex.

  • Males will usually be smaller and…
  • Females will be larger

That’s usually all the info you will need to differentiate them successfully. If they’re well-fed and developed, you will easily notice the larger female. Now that you know the difference, it’s time for some preparation.

The best thing you can do before introducing your snakes together is to give them some time to prepare for their mating season. In order to this, you should start by toning down and reducing your heating. By emulating colder temperatures, you are signaling your pets that mating season is about to begin. Ideally, you want to do this 6-8 weeks prior to your attempt.

Mating

handling a baby sand boa
Baby sand boa Source

Once your snakes are in the breeding mood, you simply have to introduce them to each other. Unless they display really aggressive behavior to each other from the get-go, it’s a good idea to just leave them on their own. If your male seems passive and uninterested, you could try introducing a second male into the mix, which will make the first one more likely to breed, especially when he smells that another male is close-by.

Now that you’ve paired your Kenyan Sand Boas together, you should see them stick cuddle with glimpses of courtship and even copulation if you’re lucky enough. However, this will most likely happen during the night while you’re not watching.

After about ten days, the mating should be over. A good sign of successful breeding is a slightly larger abdomen on your female, meaning that it’s carrying small babies inside. Kenyan Sand Boa is a live-bearing species, meaning that they don’t lay eggs, which can be a big plus, especially for beginners.

Your female will try to get as much heat exposure as possible, usually hanging close to your heater, trying to give some additional heat to her babies. You may notice an increase in hunger, especially during the last months of her pregnancy period. After a few months, your female will give birth to about 10-20 small babies, which they should be separated and put in another container. Offer them, one by one, small pinky mouse and let them slowly grow and develop into adult pets.

As for your female, you can expect a post-ovulation shed, and she probably won’t be too interested in eating after this period. She may also suffer some slight weight loss, but give her a month or two to regain that back, and it’ll be okay.