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Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

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  • [Behavior] Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

    Hey guys, so lately something has really been getting under my skin.

    A lot of people are telling me that my boa, when big enough will size me, and if he does, that I will have to put him down.

    I've read that boas don't even actually "size" their prey.

    Can someone please enlighten me as to what the truth is behind this, so I can in turn educate those who are trying to put me down.

  • #2
    Re: Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

    There is some truth to this, but not in a human stand point. A snake will usually not attack anything too large to consume. 99.999% of snake bites are the keepers fault. If you smell like a rat, you will probably get bit. If your snake is shedding and the eyes are milky they can't see clearly what is approaching them and you may get bit. If temps, humidity, housing is off significantly they may be unhappy and you might get bit. If your snake is not properly fed and is very large....possibly???
    Know your snake, know it's signs of aggression, know your husbandry, know your feeding schedule, don't smell like a rat and you will be fine. I can say for now that I'm still new with only 4 years of keeping snakes and I am not a member of the "bite club" YET!! When you get comfortable and think your snake is your best friend and really knows you, that's when it happens!

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    • #3
      Re: Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

      Originally posted by SerpentsEmbrace View Post
      ....A lot of people are telling me that my boa, when big enough will size me, and if he does, that I will have to put him down....
      That registers very high on my B.S. meter. Very few snakes are very visually-oriented AT ALL. BUT: the large or giant snakes cannot afford to be picky eaters & tend to subdue what they can, then try to make it fit.
      Even other snakes do kill things too big to eat: for example, I know of wild 5' gopher snakes that have killed adult rabbits, only to fail to swallow it, with the dead prey left behind & only the head showing some saliva...
      as far as the snake could go before it had to give up. I will tell you that I kept a rescued BCI for 12 years, until she was 7.5' (bigger than I ever planned to have) & only then found her another home, where she is loved.
      She NEVER bit me...she was and IS reliably mellow when handled (though she didn't start off that way, which is why she was given to me as a 'nasty' yearling no one wanted). She loved to cuddle with me while I
      watched movies for a several hours, so she had MORE than enough time to "size me up", LOL!

      I also second the post by Morrisr though: while they don't "size us up", they RELY on scent cues and also movement that appears to be prey. If you smell like a rat, you'll be treated like one, LOL! Also, & this is important:
      many people think their snake (not just boas!) are "mean" and "want to bite or eat them" because their hungry snake will chase their motion thru the glass (or plexi). This is nonsense! What I always do is blow air across my
      hand thru the screened part of the cage so the snake can read my scent: most back down IMMEDIATELY when they realize we don't smell like food. Very few snakes continue in feed mode when given a non-prey scent. IF
      you have such a snake (or for that matter any giant snake...like a retic or anaconda) you should use extra caution and always have others with snake experience when working with these animals. Boas have sizable appetites
      but not normally in the same class as those others; even so, caution is advised when feeding them. It also goes without saying that you shouldn't tease your boa.

      Keep in mind that many people hate snakes & LOVE to spread scary falsehoods, like that bit about your snake 'sizing you up'. That doesn't mean you shouldn't use common sense: most people who are new to snakes get a
      boa as a young snake, so that by the time it's full-grown, they can recognize it's body-language and know how to respond & "communicate" with that snake. Because of their size, I don't think boas are the best "beginner"
      snake, but they take a LONG time to get big. Meanwhile, they learn to recognize us (as non-food) and we learn to read their moods (usually willing to eat more than they should versus "you're late with my dinner! I'm starved!").
      Again, I'll add that the BCI I kept for so long NEVER once put a squeeze on me. Handling was fun for her & not about food...no apparent confusion ever. It was just that for my size & issues & handling her solo, she was not my
      ideal pet. It IS recommended that a second (or third+ as needed) skilled person is there when any large pet snake is handled...promoting safety for snake-keepers is just good policy. It's not about 'showing off'.

      Sorry about my long-winded reply...but I want you & others to understand & love snakes for what they are...and without the unreasonable fear & misunderstanding that continues to plague their existence.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

        Originally posted by Noelle7206 View Post
        That registers very high on my B.S. meter. Very few snakes are very visually-oriented AT ALL. BUT: the large or giant snakes cannot afford to be picky eaters & tend to subdue what they can, then try to make it fit.
        Even other snakes do kill things too big to eat: for example, I know of wild 5' gopher snakes that have killed adult rabbits, only to fail to swallow it, with the dead prey left behind & only the head showing some saliva...
        as far as the snake could go before it had to give up. I will tell you that I kept a rescued BCI for 12 years, until she was 7.5' (bigger than I ever planned to have) & only then found her another home, where she is loved.
        She NEVER bit me...she was and IS reliably mellow when handled (though she didn't start off that way, which is why she was given to me as a 'nasty' yearling no one wanted). She loved to cuddle with me while I
        watched movies for a several hours, so she had MORE than enough time to "size me up", LOL!

        I also second the post by Morrisr though: while they don't "size us up", they RELY on scent cues and also movement that appears to be prey. If you smell like a rat, you'll be treated like one, LOL! Also, & this is important:
        many people think their snake (not just boas!) are "mean" and "want to bite or eat them" because their hungry snake will chase their motion thru the glass (or plexi). This is nonsense! What I always do is blow air across my
        hand thru the screened part of the cage so the snake can read my scent: most back down IMMEDIATELY when they realize we don't smell like food. Very few snakes continue in feed mode when given a non-prey scent. IF
        you have such a snake (or for that matter any giant snake...like a retic or anaconda) you should use extra caution and always have others with snake experience when working with these animals. Boas have sizable appetites
        but not normally in the same class as those others; even so, caution is advised when feeding them. It also goes without saying that you shouldn't tease your boa.

        Keep in mind that many people hate snakes & LOVE to spread scary falsehoods, like that bit about your snake 'sizing you up'. That doesn't mean you shouldn't use common sense: most people who are new to snakes get a
        boa as a young snake, so that by the time it's full-grown, they can recognize it's body-language and know how to respond & "communicate" with that snake. Because of their size, I don't think boas are the best "beginner"
        snake, but they take a LONG time to get big. Meanwhile, they learn to recognize us (as non-food) and we learn to read their moods (usually willing to eat more than they should versus "you're late with my dinner! I'm starved!").
        Again, I'll add that the BCI I kept for so long NEVER once put a squeeze on me. Handling was fun for her & not about food...no apparent confusion ever. It was just that for my size & issues & handling her solo, she was not my
        ideal pet. It IS recommended that a second (or third+ as needed) skilled person is there when any large pet snake is handled...promoting safety for snake-keepers is just good policy. It's not about 'showing off'.

        Sorry about my long-winded reply...but I want you & others to understand & love snakes for what they are...and without the unreasonable fear & misunderstanding that continues to plague their existence.
        You're insight is very helpful. I do know Boas are not a starter snake. However, I am more than confident in my abilities to take care of it. I have many friends who have boas, and so with that said, I know I have people to help me when required.

        I love this little guy to death and I am really looking forward to him growing to become a beautiful, gorgeous Boa.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

          I do not believe there has ever been any proof of a boa attempting to "size up" it's owner.

          A lot of people start their snake collections with boa constrictors. Are there easier snakes to start with? Of course there are, but that doesn't mean that boas are only for the advanced enthusiast.

          You have nothing to worry about. Enjoy your boa for as long as it shall live
          "An increase in reptile education can lead to a decrease in reptile discrimination." - Bebo

          sigpic

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          • #6
            Re: Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

            Snakebites come down to (a) honest mistake made by snake, or (b) clueless mistake by human. That includes snakes in the wild...we tend to "invade" their territory & then expect them not to feel threatened
            and not to defend themselves, lol...

            Asking questions is a good thing...you sound like a very good owner...learn to expect & ignore the baloney that snake-haters try to feed you.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

              The average adult human male is roughly 170lbs... The average adult boa is roughly 5-7 feet, maybe 20 lbs... So unless your boa is going to reach 30+ feet and 500lbs, I wouldn't worry about it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

                It sounds like acquaintances have fallen for a silly old urban legend. Here's the Snopes article: snopes.com: Python Measures Victim

                It's all bogus. For one, snakes don't have the sort of spacial/self-referential mental capacity to "measure" things. Two, if anything length wouldn't really matter 1/10 as much as width even if they did.
                sigpic

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

                  Originally posted by Kung Fu Joe View Post
                  The average adult human male is roughly 170lbs... The average adult boa is roughly 5-7 feet, maybe 20 lbs... So unless your boa is going to reach 30+ feet and 500lbs, I wouldn't worry about it.
                  Even IF snakes were logical (& they're not), whether or not a snake is CAPABLE of consuming a human isn't really the point. A large constrictor CAN strangle you...and if you're dead, it won't really matter to you if the
                  snake did or did not fully succeed in having dinner, or whether or not he now realizes "oops! I goofed!".

                  Common sense prevents most accidents with snakes: I remember someone that got in trouble by working alone (feeding) big constrictors, and since he needed both hands to open the cage, he tucked the dead rabbit
                  under his chin....BAM! the moment the door was lifted, the snake mistakenly went for the warmth & the scent of dinner that he knew was coming. (Don't DO this! LOL!)

                  I would never say that there is 'zero' risk with snakes...but look how many more people are injured or killed by HORSES! and they're "domestic" & well-loved by nearly everyone. The key is prevention...don't work with
                  your snakes* when you're distracted or overly tired, feeling sick, or under any chemical influence. *It's probably not a concern if all you keep are corn snakes...only if you have big constrictors or 'hots'.

                  They're NOT out to "get us"....but being reminded that your techniques are poor can really wreck your day. Also: don't let your large boa or python completely loop around your neck, in case they decide to
                  hold on tighter than you'll enjoy.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

                    Originally posted by Noelle7206 View Post
                    whether or not a snake is CAPABLE of consuming a human isn't really the point.
                    I thought it was. Either way goods safety tips.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

                      If you look on the internet and YouTube, you'll find this is the most recent urban legend going around. Even my pastor warned me about being careful that my boa didn't start measuring me to eat me! Ridiculous! The other belief people have is that it is going to eat pet cats and/or dogs. Nope. Maybe a baby rabbit if the snake is big enough-if that. Now, the snake can kill you, the dog, or the cat. After all, it is a constrictor. So taking precautions with yourself and other humans (especially children!) and supervising pets needs to be top priority at all times. I like to have a witness/spotter during all interactions so that way someone can't say the boa bit them or tried to consume their pet or whatever. That's just me though. If you handle your snake, keep it used to interacting with animals and humans, it should be okay around you and not be out to randomly kill you. However, every snake's personality is different and there are some that, no matter what you do or don't do, they are out to randomly kill you..

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

                        Originally posted by Noelle7206 View Post
                        Common sense prevents most accidents with snakes: I remember someone that got in trouble by working alone (feeding) big constrictors, and since he needed both hands to open the cage, he tucked the dead rabbit
                        under his chin....BAM! the moment the door was lifted, the snake mistakenly went for the warmth & the scent of dinner that he knew was coming. (Don't DO this! LOL!)

                        I would never say that there is 'zero' risk with snakes..
                        Wow this is sad and really stupid! Why would he put the rabbit under his chin? That almost sounds like a drunk stunt you would see on YouTube. I use a bowl (because the rat is often wet), tongs, the rat, a temp gun to check the temp of the rat just before I offer it, plus I have three latches on the cage.....and I carry all of it out on a plate and set it down while I'm undoing the latches.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

                          Originally posted by littleb View Post
                          Wow this is sad and really stupid! Why would he put the rabbit under his chin?
                          One thing I have learned throughout my career and my time in this hobby/industry is to never second guess the actions of someone unless you were there for the encounter. (I know that second guessing was not the intention with your post )

                          There is absolutely no telling why that keeper made the decision to place a prey item under his chin, but you can guarantee it was a self correcting problem.

                          Hopefully it was also an educational topic that keeper used to instruct younger keepers on the "rights and wrongs" of this hobby.
                          "An increase in reptile education can lead to a decrease in reptile discrimination." - Bebo

                          sigpic

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

                            Originally posted by littleb View Post
                            Wow this is sad and really stupid! Why would he put the rabbit under his chin? That almost sounds like a drunk stunt you would see on YouTube. I use a bowl (because the rat is often wet), tongs, the rat, a temp gun to check the temp of the rat just before I offer it, plus I have three latches on the cage.....and I carry all of it out on a plate and set it down while I'm undoing the latches.
                            Agreed! But some ppl do things without thinking...their mind is elsewhere, they're in a hurry, or they get into a bad habit....maturity & forethought are essential when it comes to big snakes or hots. Unfortunately
                            those are the ones that give the rest of us a "black eye" with the public, and it's the snakes that really get the "blame".

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Do Boas Size their Prey? Like.. Ever?

                              Well guys I would like to thank each and every one of you for your contribution to helping me find the truth in this. I am absolutely dedicated to taking care of my little boa. I can already see him growing each day and it is a spectacle to be witnessing first hand.

                              I have no fears at all whatsoever about raising this little sucker. That said, Monday was feeding day, and watching him eat was amazing as usual. I am having a problem though, with one thing. I move him into a plastic tub/container for him to have enough room, but he doesn't seem to notice that he has a lot of room to move himself around if he needs to. He always gets himself stuck in corners, and I am not about to interfere with his feeding (Not getting bit 101). Does anyone else have this problem?
                              Last edited by bebowebb; 06-18-2015, 12:07 AM.

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