Kenyan Sand Boa: A Fascinating Subterranean Pet

Kenyan Sand Boas (Eryx colubrinus loveridgei) have captivated reptile enthusiasts with their unique appearance, docile nature, and captivating subterranean lifestyle. These small, non-venomous snakes native to East Africa have gained popularity as pets due to their manageable size, low maintenance requirements, and intriguing behaviors. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of Kenyan Sand Boas as pets, covering their characteristics, housing requirements, feeding habits, handling and care tips, common health issues, and more. Whether you are an experienced reptile keeper or considering adding a Kenyan Sand Boa to your collection, this article will provide valuable insights to ensure the well-being and enjoyment of these fascinating serpents.

You may also want to read about the beautiful rainbow brazilian boa.

Introduction to Kenyan Sand Boas

Kenyan Sand Boas, also known as East African Sand Boas, are small burrowing snakes native to Kenya, Tanzania, and surrounding regions. These snakes are part of the Erycidae family and are highly adapted to a subterranean lifestyle. Their unique appearance and interesting behaviors make them a popular choice among snake enthusiasts.

Kenyan Sand Boas as Pets

Unique Characteristics and Appearance

Kenyan Sand Boas have several unique characteristics that set them apart from other snake species. They have a stout body, small eyes, and a short, blunt tail. One of their most distinguishing features is their scale arrangement, which gives them a smooth and sandpaper-like texture. They come in various colors and patterns, including albino and anerythristic morphs.

Popular Kenyan Sand Boa Morphs

The popularity of Kenyan Sand Boas in the pet trade has led to the development of various morphs through selective breeding. Some of the popular morphs include the albino, anerythristic, snow, and striped variations. These morphs exhibit different colorations and patterns, adding to the allure of these captivating snakes.

Housing and Enclosure Setup

Suitable Enclosure Size

Providing the appropriate enclosure size is essential for the well-being of Kenyan Sand Boas. A 10-gallon tank is suitable for hatchlings, but as they grow, a 20-gallon long tank or larger will be necessary. The enclosure should have a secure lid to prevent escapes.

Temperature and Humidity Requirements

Maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels is crucial for the health and well-being of Kenyan Sand Boas. The ambient temperature in the enclosure should range from 75°F to 85°F (24°C to 29°C), with a warmer spot for digestion around 88°F (31°C). The humidity level should be kept between 40% and 50%.

kenyan sand boas

Substrate and Decor Options

Choosing the Right Substrate

Selecting the appropriate substrate is important for Kenyan Sand Boas, as they spend most of their time burrowing. Options such as aspen bedding, reptile-safe sand, or a mixture of topsoil and coconut fiber work well. Avoid using loose substrates that could cause respiratory issues or impaction.

Providing Hiding Spots and Enrichment

Kenyan Sand Boas require hiding spots to feel secure in their enclosure. Provide at least one hide on the warm side and another on the cool side of the enclosure. You can use commercially available reptile hides, half logs, or even PVC pipe sections. Adding artificial plants or decor items can provide enrichment and make the enclosure visually appealing.

Feeding and Diet

Carnivorous Nature

Kenyan Sand Boas are carnivorous snakes and primarily feed on appropriately sized rodents. In captivity, their diet consists of frozen-thawed prey items, such as mice or small rats. The size of the prey should be proportionate to the girth of the snake.

Prey Selection and Feeding Schedule

Offering a varied diet is important for the overall health and nutritional balance of Kenyan Sand Boas. Besides mice or rats, you can occasionally provide them with other prey items, such as chicks or quail. Feed juvenile Kenyan Sand Boas every 5 to 7 days, while adults can be fed every 10 to 14 days.

Handling and Care

Gentle Handling Techniques

Kenyan Sand Boas are generally docile and tolerate handling well. However, it’s important to approach them gently and support their body properly. Avoid handling them immediately after feeding to allow for proper digestion. Regular handling can help them become accustomed to human interaction.

Routine Health Checks

Regularly observe your Kenyan Sand Boa for any signs of illness or injury. Look out for changes in behavior, appetite, or any abnormalities in shedding. If you notice anything concerning, consult a reptile veterinarian with experience in snake care.

Common Health Issues

While Kenyan Sand Boas are generally hardy snakes, they can still experience health issues. Some common health concerns include respiratory infections, mouth rot, and skin issues. Maintaining proper husbandry, providing a clean environment, and monitoring their overall well-being can help prevent these issues.

Tips for Creating a Happy and Healthy Environment

To ensure the happiness and well-being of your Kenyan Sand Boa, consider the following tips:

  1. Provide a spacious enclosure with appropriate temperatures and humidity levels.
  2. Use a suitable substrate that allows for burrowing and mimics their natural habitat.
  3. Offer multiple hiding spots and enrichment items to provide a secure and stimulating environment.
  4. Feed a varied diet of appropriately sized prey items and maintain a regular feeding schedule.
  5. Practice gentle handling techniques and provide regular health checks.

FAQs About Kenyan Sand Boas

  1. Q: Are Kenyan Sand Boas venomous? A: No, Kenyan Sand Boas are non-venomous snakes and pose no threat to humans.
  2. Q: Can Kenyan Sand Boas be housed together? A: It is generally not recommended to house Kenyan Sand Boas together, as they are solitary animals and may exhibit territorial behaviors.
  3. Q: Do Kenyan Sand Boas require UVB lighting? A: Kenyan Sand Boas are primarily nocturnal and do not have specific UVB lighting requirements. However, providing a day-night light cycle can help regulate their natural behavior.
  4. Q: How often do Kenyan Sand Boas shed their skin? A: Kenyan Sand Boas typically shed their skin every 4 to 8 weeks, depending on their growth rate and environmental conditions.
  5. Q: Can Kenyan Sand Boas be handled during the shedding process? A: It is best to avoid handling Kenyan Sand Boas during the shedding process, as their skin becomes more sensitive, and handling may cause discomfort.


Kenyan Sand Boas make fascinating and low-maintenance pets for reptile enthusiasts. With their unique appearance, docile nature, and subterranean lifestyle, they offer a captivating addition to any snake lover’s collection. By providing a suitable enclosure, proper temperature and humidity levels, a balanced diet, and gentle handling, you can ensure the well-being and enjoyment of your Kenyan Sand Boa. Remember to monitor their health, seek professional advice when needed, and appreciate the beauty of these remarkable serpents.