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The Rubber Boa (Charina bottae)
The Rubber Boa is one of the two species of Erycines currently found in the New World. They are found in the western United States from southern California north into coastal British Columbia and then west into eastern Wyoming. Throughout this broad range, they are spottily distributed.
This page provides limited information on Rubber Boas, but there is an outstanding page dedicated to the Rubber Boa that I recommend to anyone interested in these fascinating little boas. You can get there by following this link -
All About the Rubber Boa by Ryan Hoyer
Some field studies carried out on Rubber Boas in Idaho by Michael E. Dorcas and Charles R. Peterson have shown some interesting aspects of the thermal biology of this slow moving snake. They found that Rubber Boas are active at lower temperatures than many other snakes. This is a necessity because, as a rather slow moving snake, it is more likely to survive if it minimizes daytime activity when it would be easily found and caught by predators. So the snakes tend to be active at night. Unfortunately, the areas this snakes occupies to be pretty cool at night (cooler than the temperatures when most other snakes would be active) and so the snake is "forced" to be active during relatively cool nights, when temperatures are lower than optimal for the snake.
However, while it is active, Dorcas and Peterson found that the internal temperature of the animal's head can be significantly warmer than either its internal body temperature or cool nighttime air temperatures. This may allow the snake to keep its brain warmer (and more active) than its body or the surrounding cool air. This ability to keep one region of the body warmer than others had never been observed in a nocturnal reptile prior to this study.
Rather than provide a broad background on this well known snake (there is a fair amount of published information on it), I have compiled a list of links to other sites with information about this snake:
Rubber Boas in Captivity
Once again, for more information on Rubber Boas in captivity, I recommend Ryan Hoyer's All About the Rubber Boa site..
The Rubber Boa is not kept in captivity as frequently as the other Erycinae even though they make excellent captives. They usually eat small mice readily and are once of the most docile of all snakes. While their colors are certainly not as gaudy as some of the morphs of Rosy Boas available in captivity, they are beautiful snakes in their own right.
Rubber Boas are shy snakes that require adequate hiding places. I usually house Rubber Boas on aspen shavings. Husbandry techniques used for colubrids are normally OK for this species, although I have found that in a warm snake room, they tend to avoid contact with the warmest regions of their cage (on the heat tape). So I no longer provide heat tape for my Charina. Even though the research from Idaho found that they can be active at cooler temperatures, if ambient cage temperatures fall to around 70°F (21°C) my Charina actively seek out the warmer areas of their cage. I have found that they do well in a snake room with ambient temperatures that range from 70°F (21°C ) to 75°F (24°C). Other people recommend lower temps, but my experience is that they will do fine at a range of temperatures.
Reproducing Rubber Boas in captivity requires and extended brumation period at temperatures around 55°F (13°C). I keep my adults at this temperature for a minimum of 8 weeks. Once they have been warmed up and resume feeding, I start introducing the male to the female's cage for a couple of days every week.
Gravid females, both in the wild and in captivity, seek out warmer basking spots and so I provide heat tape for gravid females. The female will give birth to live young approximately 4 months after successful fertilization.
While some Newborn Rubber Boas will take pinkie mice immediately after their first shed, others can be a little more reluctant to start on mice. I have found that the reluctant babies will usually take brained pinkies without hesitation. See the Sand Boa Feeding Page for more information on this technique.
For babies that don't I recently learned another trick from Ryan Hoyer. You place the baby in its cage with a small shallow hide box which is almost filled with shavings.. The key seems to be that the hide box be a tight squeeze. Newborn Rubber Boas seem to enjoy these tight quarters. Allow the snake a couple of days to find and then use the hide box. Then place a dead pinkie under this hide box and more often than not, the snake will eat it. I recently used this technique to get some babies to eat that had refused all other food for over 9 months.
Go on to the African Burrowing Python
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