Like the Western Hognose Snake, these snakes can be acclimatised to a diet of mice. However, a rodent diet may not be as natural for them, and the difference in fat between a rodent and a toad is considerable. A diet consisting wholly or partially of amphibians may be possible if you live in some parts of the world or have access to somebody who breeds frogs and toads on a regular basis. Otherwise you should think carefully whether you can keep your hognose in a healthy condition in the long term.
The fearsome reputation of the boa is actually greatly overblown. Most only reach about 9-10ft in length and are probably incapable of inflicting any harm on a human, even a child. Furthermore the temperament of many species and subspecies is quite good. There are a number of different races or subspecies of the Boa genus, so it is worth checking which ones make better captives: Mexican and Clouded Boas both have a rather aggressive reputation.
Close related to the Boa Constrictor is the Rainbow Boa, Epicrates. These are rather different in outward appearance, often having a beautiful sheen and coloration.
See Boa constrictors; Epicrates.
Cribos, as they are known in the US, are large and active snakes that grow between 7-10 ft long. In practice the Eastern Indigo and the Texas Indigo are both protected by law, leaving the yellow- and black-tailed cribos available to hobbyists. Apart from their size, cribos also have a reputation for being messy and aggressive. They seem to require a varied diet (not just rodents) if they are to breed. Bartlett also recommends a cage size of at least 8 x 4 ft for a pair of these snakes.
Despite the overblown reputation of the boa as a fearsome snake, rosy boas in fact grow to only about 2½ ft. They are hardy and attractive but somewhat secretive. Hailing from the arid southern regions of North America, they require very low humidity - a possible problem in the damp climate of the UK. Bartlett suggests placing a water bowl in the cage only once every 2-3 weeks. They are easily handled and if properly housed may live up to 15 years.
Asian and European species of the genus Elaphe are often interesting or strikingly beautiful, but have quirks or temperaments which make less than ideal first snakes. The Asian ones can be highly strung in some cases, eg E. mandarina, E. radiata and E. taeniura, and hail from areas which are cool rather than hot (as people tend to associate with Asia). Both they and the European species often need periods of hibernation for health and breeding. There is probably more information on the European ones, but they are less readily available due to legal restrictions on wildlife exports. If you can get captive-bred you will probably find their acclimatisation easier. Elaphe situla, the European Leopard Snake, is stunningly beautiful but also has a reputation for being delicate, so should probably be left to keepers used to dealing with European snakes.
Other snakes described as "ratsnakes" are also seen in the trade. Of these, the Trans-Peco Rat Snake (Bogertophis subocularis) is beautiful but also delicate: Senticollis are not commonly seen, at least outside the Americas; Gonysoma have a reputation for being rather feisty or mean, albeit very attractive; and Spaelerophis (Diadem Rat Snakes) are not actually true rat snakes but desert-dwelling creatures.
These boas are keenly sought by collectors for their colours, as they come in a very varied range of reds, oranges, greys, tans and yellows. The reddest and yellowest ones normally command the highest prices. A reasonably tall cage is recommended C. hortulana, as is plenty of plant cover. Amazonians are usually snappy and not very handleable.
The "chondro" is one of the most sought-after snakes by collectors, being a truly beautiful python that normally only grows to 6-7 ft. The very variable colour of hatchlings gives way to the green of adulthood. Chondros vary in temperament but can normally be handled safely, even if a snake hook has to be used. As they are an arboreal species, height should be given priority over floor spacing in the shape and size of the cage. The biggest problem with these snakes is the breeding process, since many keepers, even experienced ones, have difficulty in getting the eggs to hatch successfully.
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