Rosy boas and Kenyan sandboas--compare and contrast


Dear VPI,

We currently have a normal (male?) ball python.  I am really interested in both rosy boas and Kenyan sandboas.  Can you tell me a little bit about their temperament and care differences, if any?  They both fascinate me and I am trying to determine which would be a better fit for me.



Dear Melissa.

We have kept hundreds of both rosy boas and Kenyan sandboas. My personal favorite is the Kenyans; I think Tracy prefers them, too. Really, as far as I'm concerned, their only drawback is that they are fairly invisible in their cages when they are burrowed in the substrate. Bigger animals spend quite a bit of time sitting out in plain sight, though. I think a big female Kenyan is one of the very coolest snakes in the world. Kenyans will bite when in their cages, for they are voracious feeders. However, it's been my experience that out of their cage they are completely docile. I let school kids handle them when I do public demonstrations, and I've never had one bite anybody.

We like rosies, too. For me their drawback is that they are rather bad about biting. They don't strike and bite, they are very laid back and docile. Rather, as you are holding a rosy, it will sniff your hand or arm, and then deliberately pick a spot, and then latch onto your skin and constrict. If they were 30 feet long, they would eat people. Most of them are not trustworthy to hand over to, say, kids or to someone unfamiliar with snakes.

Of course, bites by either species are not damaging and usually don't even require a bandage.

Both are fabulous snakes and great to keep. However, we no longer work with rosies (OK, we do have a couple for pets.) When the time came to choose, we chose the Kenyans.  DGB