Both of the images above are of the same snake. He is my male colombian red tail boa, normal. The picture on the right is of him when he was only a month old (14 inches long). As you can see is grey, but the picture on the left is of him at 16 months old (55 inches long) and is a light brown color. Boas grow very fast and go through a color change with every shed. Some morphs like sunglows, albinos, salmons and some other morphs do not change in color as they grow.
General Info: There are True red tail boas and there are non true red tail boas. The true red tail boas (Boa Constrictor Constrictor) have an actual bright red tail where as the other red tail boas (Boa Constrictor Imperator) have a tail that ranges from dull red, orange, and brown. I will be talking mostly of Boa Constrictor Imperator, the Colombian Red Tail Boa which stay a couple feet smaller than Boa c. Constrictor, but almost all the information stated will also accomidate for the true red tails. When born red tail boas are more of a grey color but as they age and with every shed the grey starts turning more and more brown.
These boas are beautiful snakes that can come in a variety of color morphs that include the albino, sunglow, pastel, anery, and many more. Red tail boas are generally very docile but can have bad moments. As babies they can be nippy, which goes for almost all baby snakes, but when handled regularly and as they age can become puppy dog tame and very relaxed. These are probably one of the most docile larger species of snake. Red tail boas tolerate more handling than most other larger snakes because of their docile and laid back temperment. I have even heard of some that will resist getting put back into their enclosure. These snakes are a heavily bodied and muscular and it can be possible to fracture or even break the ribs of a large female if not picked up properly. A properly cared for individual can live up to 30 years, though 25 years is normally the average.
The true red tail boas (Boa c. Constrictor) can be found in Brazil, very limited areas in Columbia, the Amazon, Guyana, and Surinam. Columbian red tail boas (Boa c. Imperator) are found in Columbia, some places in Mexico, Hogg Island and some countries throughout Central America.
The red tail boas are by far my favorite snake. I love the colors they come in, their temperment, their size etc. They are absolutely a wonderful species of snake to have in the household. They aren't massive like a burmese or reticulated python yet still impressive to the eye. If you are choosing a first pet snake, but want something bigger than a corn or king snake, then I highly reccomend a red tail boa.
Size: As babies they start out between 14-22 inches long and grow at a fairly quick and steady rate until 1 year of age reaching 4 1/2-5 feet. The following year will add another 3 feet and several more pounds, but then start to slow down. An adult male can get 6-7 feet, 20-30lbs and a female can get 7-9 feet (8 feet being the average) and up to 50lbs. So, if you have other small animals in your house, be very careful when handling a larger snake outside of its enclosure.
Heat and Humidity: Like any pet snake, there should be a hot side and a cool side of the enclosure so the snake can choose which side to go to properly regulate its body temperature. For red tail boas the hot side should be around 90F and the cool side should be around 80F. If the enclosure is too cold or too hot the snake may stop eating, so make sure you have the temperature right. The best way to provide heat for your snake is with a heat lamp, rather than a heat mat/under tank heater. Make sure you purchase a heat bulb that provides light (for the day) and one that does not provide light (for at night). You could also get a bulb that ommits red or blue light that snakes can't see. Snakes need day and night just like any other animal to stay healthy. These snakes do not need high himidity, 50% seems to keep them happy. When in shed it is best to boost the humidity to 70-80% to help with the shedding proccess. As red tail boas are nocturnal (come out at night) they do not need any special lighting such as a UVA/UVB bulb.
Enclosure: A baby can stay in a 20gal tank for the first year, but after that they need to be placed in a larger enclosure.Too many people think that a snake will only grow to the size of its enclosure which is NOT true! The snake will outgrow the enclosure and then you are left with an unhappy, unhealthy snake if left in the tiny enclosure. That is why it is so important to research the snake you want to get. A baby will definately benefit from a few braches placed in for something for it to climb on. A young boa will often take advantage of a high place, but as they grow into adults and get bigger and heavier they tend to stay more on the ground. An adult male can happily live in at least 4 foot by 2 foot by 2 foot enclosure for its whole life. If you own a larger female you may need to build your own 6 foot by 3 foot by 3 foot enclosure. I find that aspen is the best substrate for these snakes as some (including mine) like to burrow. A water dish that is large enough for the snake to soak in should always be available.
Feeding: A baby boa can start off with a fuzzy mouse once every 3-5 days. As they grown you need to up their prey size to at least the thickest part of their body. A 1 year old boa will eat a small-medium rat once a week, but once they start getting larger, an adult 6-7 foot male can eat a jumbo rat to small rabit once every week and a half to two weeks. When it comes to larger females, you may have to go as far as feeding a 5lbs rabbit every 2 weeks. So, make sure that you buy the snake you are able to afford to feed. Obviously a male boa can be cheaper to feed than a female. Pre-killed or frozen thawed prey items should be offered, as often times live prey can injure your snake, and if left alone together could kill your snake. Only feed live if you absolutely have to. In general these snake are not picky eaters and will happily take any prey item you offer.