Hog Island Boas make wonderful pets, and are one of the snakes we recommend most often!
These reptiles are beautiful, easy to care for, and have a peaceful temperament. They’re great pets for snake-lovers with pretty much any level of experience!
This guide will go over the basics of Hog Island Boa care (plus some interesting facts you’ll certainly enjoy) to make you a more prepared owner. When the time comes for you to get one yourself, you’ll be ready to go!
Table of Contents
While most reptile enthusiasts are familiar with the common Boa, few have the chance to own a Hog Island Boa. Contrary to popular belief, this pet snake does not belong to its own subspecies. Thus, it has the same scientific name as common boas (Boa constrictor imperator).
Hog Island Boas are considered to be a morph of the common boa. However, its differences go far deeper than coloration and appearance.
These snakes are endemic to the Hog Islands in Honduras. Also known as Cayos Cochinos, these islands cover an area of only 37 square miles! The snake’s isolation on these islands has led to some interesting physical and behavioral quirks you won’t find with the common boa.
As such, these snakes are in high demand! Often considered a prized collection snake, Hog Island Boas are a rare commodity. Wild populations are quite low. Thankfully, captive breeding programs are helping to preserve these snakes for the future.
Average Hog Island Boa Size
The average adult Hog Island Boa size is around five or six feet in length for females, and four feet for males. These snakes are smaller than common boas.
Expert Tip: Hog Island Boas are products of insular dwarfism. This unique phenomenon occurs with many different species of animals that are isolated on islands. It causes animals to get smaller than their mainland counterparts.
If you’re lucky enough to own a Hog Island Boa, you must be in it for the long-haul!
The typical Hog Island Boa lifespan is between 20 and 30 years with proper care. Some specimens have even lived beyond the 30-year mark!
Of course, there are no guarantees when it comes to life expectancy. Like all captive pets, Hog Island Boas depend on top-notch care to thrive. Failing to meet their basic needs could cause disease and shorten their lifespan significantly.
Appearance & Colors
Other than their smaller size, Hog Island Boas have all the hallmarks of a classic Boa Constrictor. They have thick, muscular bodies and the iconic triangle-shaped head.
Like other Boas, these snakes do not have traditional fangs. Instead, they have hook-like teeth that prevent prey from escaping their grasp.
The biggest difference between Hog Island Boas and common Boas is going to be color. These snakes are hypomelanistic. Basically, that means that they don’t have a ton of black pigment on their skin.
This lack of black pigment creates a beautiful washed-out effect. They still have the same striking color pattern as common Boas, but the coloration is significantly duller and more muted.
The body is covered in cool tan and brown tones. These colors and patterns alternate pretty evenly along their body.
Hog Island Boa Care
Despite their endangered status in the wild, Hog Island Boa care isn’t difficult in captivity. If you have any experience raising snakes, you shouldn’t have any problems with this species.
That said, it’s important to remember that these are unique snakes that come from a very distinct habitat. Their needs are different than those of a common Boa, and you need to take them seriously if you want them to thrive.
Below are some care guidelines to get you started!
The most important thing you need to do before bringing your new snake home is to prepare their enclosure!
These snakes don’t need a massive tank. However, there still needs to be ample room for them to get comfortable.
Generally, adult Hog Island Boas do fine in enclosures that measure at least 36 inches long by 24 inches wide.
Expert Tip: A height of approximately 36 inches is ideal. These are arboreal snakes that like to climb, so taller enclosures are always recommended.
Unlike other snakes, you don’t have to keep the enclosure small. Feel free to get a larger enclosure if you have the room.
The reason this is beneficial is that larger environments are better for replicating the snake’s natural habitat. Most of the Hog Island Boas who have lived the longest have actually been kept in large enclosures!
Also, choose an enclosure with adequate ventilation. You can use an enclosure with large ventilation holes (smaller than the snake obviously) or use one with a large screened top.
The Hog Islands in Honduras are covered in rainforests. That means the best way to make your snake feel at home is to replicate that environment in their enclosure.
Starting at the bottom, use a moisture-absorbing substrate. Reptile-approved sand mixtures, orchid bark chips, or even cage carpet works fine. Just make sure it holds onto some moisture to support the humidity levels in the tank.
As for decorations, fill the enclosure with tree branches, climbing vines, and plants. Arrange tree branches strategically to give your snake plenty of options to move around.
With plants, you can use either silk plants or real ones. Real ones can help with humidity levels, but they do require a lot of work to keep healthy.
It’s also very important for you to include some hide boxes. Use spacious boxes that your snake can easily crawl into for shelter. Many owners like to add moist peat moss into the hide for an extra boost of humidity as well.
Temperature & Lighting
Like common Boas, Hog Island Boas automatically regulate their temperature throughout the day. Because of this, you’ll need to create a temperature gradient in the enclosure.
Ambient temperatures should be between 68°F to 85°F (somewhere around 77 degrees is ideal). If ambient temperatures in your home drop below 68 degrees at night, use a heat emitter to keep temperatures stable.
On one end of the enclosure, install a basking light. This light should be close to the top of the environment. Arrange the branches to give your snake somewhere to perch and bask.
Keep temperatures in this basking area between 90°F to 95°F.
Expert Tip: Standard lighting is required throughout the day. But once the sun sets, turn those lights off to give your snake a standard day/night cycle. Ultraviolet lights aren’t necessary for Hog Island Boas, but you can use them to support live plants if you want.
It’s important to make sure that the enclosure has around 60 percent humidity at all times. Invest in a reliable hygrometer to make sure you’re getting accurate readings.
The Honduran rainforests where these snakes reside are very humid. This makes maintaining that high humidity level crucial if you want your Hog Island Boa to stay healthy.
If you need to make adjustments to the humidity in the enclosure, there are two simple things you can do:
If you need to decrease the humidity in the enclosure, simply adjust the ventilation to air things out a bit. If you need to increase humidity, simply mist the enclosure.
Hog Island Boas will get most of their water from the air. However, it’s still recommended that you provide a water bowl for your snake.
Expert Tip: These reptiles will likely use this water source for soaking. Because of this, you need to make sure your dish is large enough to accommodate the snake. Also, try to get one that won’t get knocked over too easily!
All you need to do is keep it filled with fresh water. Snakes tend to defecate in their water bowls, so keep an eye on it and replenish the water whenever needed. Failing to do this can result in sickness and disease.
Food & Diet
In the wild, Hog Island Boas depend heavily on migratory birds to stay healthy. In captivity, most snakes will readily accept mice and rodents.
Use thawed frozen mice that are no thicker than the girthiest part of your snake.
Adults should be fed once every 10 to 14 days. Meanwhile, juveniles do best with weekly feedings.
Expert Tip: Many owners like to move their snakes to separate enclosures during the feeding process. This isn’t a requirement, but it’s worth considering if you don’t want your snake to associate your hand with mealtime!
Potential Health Issues
Hog Island Boas are relatively healthy creatures. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t experience disease.
These snakes are susceptible to all of the standard health issues that affect captive reptiles. This includes respiratory infections, bacterial infections, and fungal infections.
Respiratory infections are typically caused by incorrect humidity levels. Too much moisture in the air can cause inflammation in the mouth and nostrils. Use your hygrometer to stay on top of humidity in your snake’s habitat.
Bacterial, fungal, and even parasitic infections are all caused by a poorly maintained environment. Spot clean the enclosure regularly. Remove any waste and spills.
It’s recommended to perform a deep clean once every month. When you clean the enclosure, remove and disinfect everything! This will prevent bacteria from flourishing in the closed environment.
Behavior & Temperament
The thing that stands out most about Hog Island Boas is their temperament. They’re far more docile than common Boas.
The reason for this comes down to how isolated they are in their natural habitat!
On Hog Island, these snakes have no natural predators. They’re pretty much on top of the food chain. Over time, the snakes lost their sense of urgency to hide. In fact, you can often spot these snakes relaxing out in the open!
Because they have no reason to hide, they aren’t as temperamental as some other snakes. They’re not as suspicious of humans or other animals.
As a result, they’re considered one of the more peaceful snakes you can own. If you’ve owned other snakes in the past, the Hog Island Boa will seem quite different!
Even with their docile nature, you still have to build a sense of trust with these snakes. Give them some time to adjust to their new home before you attempt to hold them.
When that time comes, approach your snake slowly from behind. Lift them up at the thickest point and make as much contact with their body as possible. The more skin contact it has with you, the more confident it will feel.
Hog Island Boas usually don’t mind being held. As long as you’re gentle and treat the snake with respect, you shouldn’t encounter any problems.
Expert Tip: As always, read the signs your snake is giving you during the handling process. If they look uncomfortable or are starting to act up, put them back in their enclosure and let them calm down.
We hope you found this Hog Island Boa care sheet useful and enjoyed reading it. We had a lot of fun putting it together!
These snakes are one of our favorites and we don’t think that will change anytime soon! They’re such a joy to own, and their peaceful temperament makes them a lot of fun to handle as well.
If there’s anything this guide didn’t cover we’re more than happy to help you out. Just contact us through the site and we’ll respond as soon as we can!