Not Eating

Boa Constrictor Not Eating - skinny 2 year old boa

Contributed by Marybeth Spencer

Boas are well-known to be voracious eaters, but every once in a while they may refuse a meal. Why could this be?


  • Boa refuses 2 or more meals


  • Bacterial infection in gut
  • Breeding season during spring (males especially)
  • Gravid (pregnant)
  • Parasites
  • Poor husbandry
  • Respiratory infection
  • Stress
  • Other illness


If your boa is a baby, juvenile, or subadult, refusal to eat is a definite sign that something is wrong, and it may be sick.

If you just brought your boa home from the breeder, expo, or pet store, your boa may also refuse to eat due to relocation stress. Wait at least 1 week after bringing him/her home before offering them a meal. If they still refuse, wait another week and try again. Do not handle the snake for as long as it’s not eating, as handling can make the problem worse. Depending on the boa’s age, the process of settling in enough to eat can take up to a month.

If your boa still isn’t eating regularly, the first thing you need to do is check the enclosure’s temperatures and humidity. Snakes aren’t stupid — they won’t eat if it’s not warm enough for them to be able to digest the meal. Make sure you’re using a digital thermometer to check air temperatures and an infrared temperature gun to check surface temperatures (because these readings require two different tools); gauge-type thermometers and hygrometers aren’t accurate.

You should be weighing your boa weekly to establish a baseline for the snake’s weight. If it is dropping weight considerably while refusing to eat, that will indicate that the boa is most likely sick. If all other causes have been ruled out and the snake continues to refuse to eat and drop weight, make an appointment with an ARAV-certified reptile veterinarian.

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