Kenyan Sand Boas (Eryx colubrinus) are found in Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, northern Somalia, norther Chad, western Niger, and western Lybia. They are heavy bodied snakes with small "shovel" like heads and short tails. They have an orange coloration with dark brown splotches. There are a growing handful of pattern and color mutations being bred in captivity including: albino, anerythristic, snow, paradox albino, paradox snow, stripe, and hypomelanistic.
Male KSB's will grow to around 15-18 inches on average and about 70-100 grams in weight. Females will grow much larger around 24-36 inches and 400-900+ grams. KSB's can easily live 15+ years in captivity.
Maintenance Requirements -
Kenyan Sand Boas are an easy species of snake to maintain. It's important to have a general knowledge of proper husbandry, but a captive bred Kenyan Sand Boa is an excellent snake for a first time keeper. They do not necessarily make good display animals as they will spend most of their time hiding underneath their substrate.
Enclosure - Males can be successfully housed in a 10 gallon aquarium or a Rubbermaid tub of similar size. Females will need a 20 gallon-long aquarium or tub. Enclosures should be longer then they are high. Be careful, in my experience these guys are great escape artists - make sure that you have a secure lid!
Substrate -Kenyan Sand Boas do well on many different substrates. Aspen shavings, newspaper, vitamin sand, carefresh, and newspaper are all good options. I prefer to use VitaSand and aspen shavings. Your sand boa will spend a lot of time hiding underneath their substrate. They will definitely appreciate something they can easily burrow into, though if you go with sand you should buy the sand that is made up of vitamins and calcium - it is commercially available in many pet stores and will not harm the snake if accidentally ingested.
NEVER use any bedding that contains cedar! Cedar is deadly to snakes!!
Water - Clean water should be provided to the snake at all times. This can be in a glass or ceramic bowl.
Temperatures - Maintaining the proper temperatures is extremely important for your reptile. Do no guess temperatures, measure them! Their cage should have a daytime high temperature of 81-85 degrees F and a low night time temp of 75-79 degrees F. One end of the cage should be kept warmer while the other end is cooler. This allows them to find a good ambient temperature that bests suits them at any given time. You can use heat lamps or heat tape to achieve these temperatures. I use a strip of Flex Watt heat tape under one end of the cage giving them a basking spot of about 86-92 degrees on the warm end and a nice cool end of about 76-82 degrees. Make sure their supplemented heat dissipates without heating the entire enclosure to an unwanted temp.
Electrically-heated in cage devices (like "hot-rocks") can be very dangerous as the temperature of some of these rocks can exceed 130-140 degrees and cause burns to your snake! Whether you are using heat bulbs or undercage heating pads it is always a good idea to use a thermostat, rheostat, and/or timers to control your heat source.
Lighting - No special lighting is necessary for kenyan sand boas.
Accessories -You can provide a humidity box for you sand boa that will help them with their shed. To do this take a small plastic box, fill it with damp sphagnum moss, and cut a hole in it so the snake to crawl in. Since KSBs will spend most of their time underneath the substrate there is no need for any cage furniture other then for display purposes.
Feeding - Kenyan Sand Boas should be feed an appropriately sized rodent weekly. This means the prey item should be no bigger around then the boa is at its largest point. Hatchlings tend to eat live small pinky mice. As they grow they can be switched to frozen/thawed hopper/adult mice. Most often your sand boa will sit underneath their substrate with its head poking out - if you wave its food item in front of its face it will jump out of the sand grabbing in and sometimes dragging it under the substrate! Some of our male kenyans stop eating during the winter months - this is not uncommon - they will usually start feeding again in late winter or early spring. Some sand boas may prefer smaller prey items then what you think they should take. Being a nocturnal species, they feed best at night.
Shedding - Kenyan Sand Boas rarely have problems shedding their skin. If a snake has incomplete sheds then it should be soaked in slightly warm water for several hours. After the soak the skin should come off rather easily.
Kenyan Sand Boas are excellent snakes to keep in captivity. They are hardy and easy going and can tolerate a lot of attention and handeling. They are rather shy and because of this you should always take care when digging in the substrate looking for your snake - they may become startled and bite defensively. They may also think you are a tasty meal and bite. Just be sure to move calmly and slowly when picking them up and they will be happy. Kenyan Sand Boas are beautiful and unique creatures that make a great pet whether you are a first time snake keeper or long time hobbyist.
While looking for a pet snake it is recommended to always buy a captive-bred one. "Captive-bred" indicates that both the parents of the animal where kept and bred in captivity. Captive-bred animals can be expected to be free from internal/external parasites and generally healthy. They also tend to be calmer and more trusting of their handler. "Wild-caught" indicates that the animal was collected in the wild. Wild-caught animals can be ill-tempered and unhealthy. Wild-caught animals are also much harder to feed and breed in captivity. "Captive-hatched" indicates that an egg was collected from the wild and then hatched in captivity. Many captive-hatched animals carry parasites and disease not seen in captive-bred animals.
It is always important to know the origin of your animal. We recommend only buying captive-bred kenyan sand boas.