Terrarium decorations are more than just another means to waste your money and/or make your Dumeril’s boa terrarium look prettier. While they can serve an aesthetic function, they also enhance a reptile’s quality of life by mimicking their natural environment and providing mental stimulation. The best zoos do this all the time — it’s called environmental enrichment. A common misconception is that reptiles are stupid creatures that don’t need “toys” or decorations beyond their keeper’s fancy, so modern reptile husbandry experts are working to disprove this. Read more in this article: Environmental Enrichment For Reptiles ; What? Why? and How…?
While not technically a “decoration” so much as a functional necessity, your snake will need a water dish or tub large and deep enough for the snake to soak its entire body. Change the water at least twice per week or whenever it gets dirty.
The one accessory/item of “decor” that your Dumeril’s boa terrarium will need the most is a hide box. Since these boas are shy creatures, they need a dark, humid hidey-hole to call their own — and preferably more than one. Whatever you use, it needs to be big enough to fit the whole snake (no mean feat for a large adult female).
For a juvenile, this is easy. Go to the pet store, pick out some caves/cork rounds/hollow logs of an appropriate size, and tada, you’re done. Ah, the bliss of small snakes…
But if you have an adult, a little more creativity is required. If you’re feeling crafty, you can always make one! Roughly 18”x18-24”x6-8” should do the trick.
Or if you’re not feeling crafty (ex: me) then you can buy something that can be easily converted into one. I don’t recommend using cardboard boxes, because the snake will crush it sooner or later. Instead, try cutting an entry hole in an upside-down cat litter tray or opaque plastic storage tub. Or you can use a small rectangular trash bin. The possibilities are endless!
Whatever you use, line one of the hides with damp sphagnum moss to create a humid retreat. This is especially important when your snake is about to shed.
Although Dumeril’s boas are classified as primarily terrestrial snakes, they do climb in the wild, and have been observed and photographed on tree limbs. Installing branches in the enclosure is a good way to enhance the enclosure’s aesthetics and provide additional exercise for your pet. While adults rarely weigh more than 20-25 lbs, you will need to secure available branches so they don’t break, fall, or expose screws during use, potentially causing injury. If you choose to build a custom enclosure for your adult Dumeril’s boa, cut branches to size and screw them in firmly during the building process.
Where can you get branches and other climbing objects? You can buy them, but you can also simply walk into a local forest and do a bit of gathering (provided that collection is not illegal in your area). Forests are a great place to get fallen branches as long as the wood is not pine, fir, or cedar. If you know someone who is cutting down their tree, this can be a great way to get what you need as well. No treatment of the wood will be necessary beyond some scrubbing. Trees have natural antibacterial and antifungal properties, and naturally-sourced wood tends to come with extra bugs and other microfauna that will help prevent mold and break down waste. However, do take caution if termites or other dangerous insects are a problem in your area.
Something fun that you can do for your Dumeril’s boa is collect dry, non-chemical-treated leaves during autumn. Scatter them in your pet’s enclosure and watch him/her explore the new scents and textures.
For pictures of the Dumeril’s boa in its natural habitat, visit iNaturalist.org.
PRO TIP: Clean the enclosure and its decor with chlorhexidine or a bleach solution at least once per quarter. If you use bleach, don’t put the snake back in until you can’t smell the bleach fumes any more.