Rosy Boa

Lichanura trivirgata

Order: Squamata

Husbandry Information

Housing Requirements

  • Temperature, Humidity, & Lighting:
    • Temperature:
    • Humidity:
    • Lighting:
  • Substrate:

Diet Requirements

Veterinary Concerns

Notes on Enrichment & Training


Colony or Breeding Management

Notes species is housed or managed socially or for breeding purposes.

Individual Identification

Dimorphism or practiced ways to individually mark species (such as those in colonies, like giant millipedes).

Programmatic Information


hot water bottle

Temperature Guidelines

  • Brandywine Zoo: During cool weather (under 65°F), supplemental heat is provided with a hot water bottle set to one side of the cooler. Wrap bottle with newspaper for lizards or snakes traveling with the bottle loose, to make cleanups easier in the case of defecation while traveling.



  • Brandywine Zoo: reptiles travel in a Coleman style coolers that have been amended with extra ventilation holes on the lid (with a wood-burning tool). Small and medium sized snakes travel inside an inside-out, knotted pillowcase. Large snakes travel loose in the cooler that is also bungeed shut. For lizards, the cooler is lined with newspaper.
  • lg cooler sm cooler cooler

Tips on Presentation

Touching Techniques

Tips on Handling


Potential Messaging

  • In general, animals seen at the zoo do not make good pets. Most have specialized dietary, veterinary, housing, and social needs that are difficult or impossible for even dedicated pet owners to meet. Always ensure that your future pet has not been taken from the wild. Capture of wild animals for the pet trade has significantly damaged the survival prospects of species such as sloths, tamanduas, and many parrots. Captured animals are typically mistreated by profit-motivated traffickers and dealers, resulting in many animal deaths; well-meaning animal lovers may feel like they are rescuing animals by purchasing them but are really perpetuating the cruelty. In addition, many exotic pets are released by their owners when they become too dangerous or demanding, often with devastating effects on local ecosystems. Animals that should never be kept as pets include all bats, primates, and exotic carnivores. Birds, fish, and reptiles have specialized needs, are frequently wild-caught, and damage the local environment if released; guests should be advised to educate themselves and proceed with caution. Domestic dogs and cats are almost always the best option! Many deserving animals are available for adoption at animal shelters.
  • Snakes are an important link in the food chain. They provide food for many bird and mammal species that prey on them. The main diet of most snakes is rodents. Therefore, snakes provide a very valuable service – pest control. Most snakes are non-venomous and will avoid humans if they can. Venomous snakes want to use their venom to kill small prey animals or to defend themselves; since humans are too big to be considered prey by most snakes, the best way to avoid a bite is not to make the snake feel threatened. Ask guests to avoid any snakes they may see in the wild and appreciate them from a distance.

Acquisition Information


Comments from the Rating System

  • Lee Richardson Zoo: One individual was our most popular snake for many years before inexplicably becoming a “biter.” We have yet to discover the reason for this behavior change and have been unable to work with her to reliably change the behavior.
  • Zoo New England, Stone Zoo: Our individual has some “tricks” but I don’t know if this is across-the-board for Rosy boas. Difficult eater, but otherwise a great program snake.

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat

Rocky deserts and semi-desert grassland in the southwest United States and northwest Mexico.

Physical Description

Rosy boas are usually 2-3 feet long. Their coloring varies depending on the location and the subspecies (there are thought to be 4). Their body can be cream, buff, or gray, and they have 3 wide longitudinal stripes that can range from black to reddish brown, brown, or orange. Juveniles are lighter than adults. The scales are smooth and shiny. The head is only slightly wider than the neck, and the eyes are small with vertical pupils. They do not have the large plate-like scales on the head that are found in many other boas.

Life Cycle

Can live up to 18 years in captivity.


They use rodent burrows, or sometimes bury themselves in sand or loose soil. In the colder parts of their range, they hibernate through the winter. Although they prefer habitats with little vegetation, they are excellent climbers, and will climb into bushes to capture birds.

If they are threatened, they coil into a ball, hiding their head within the body coils for protection.

Threats and Conservation Status

Rosy boas are listed on CITES Appendix 2. Although they are protected, many are illegally captured for the pet trade by using crowbars to break open the rocky crevices where they live. They are also affected by habitat destruction.

Did you know…




Any Documents to attach, species spotlights, etc.

Contributors and Citations

  • Houston Zoo, Natural Encounters