“Substrate” is another word for bedding, the material you use to cover your reptile’s floor. The right choices in Dumeril’s boa substrate can help regulate humidity and promote good health. The wrong substrate can be unhygienic and even kill your snake in some cases.
In their native habitat in southwestern Madagascar, the soil is poor and primarily consists of mostly limestone and red sand. The snakes are likely to burrow or take over existing burrows to escape predators and daytime heat. Dumeril’s boas evolved to thrive on this terrain, so the ideal bedding for them in captivity should mimic these conditions. For pictures of the Dumeril’s boa in its natural habitat, visit iNaturalist.org.
Because Dumeril’s boas are ground dwellers, they like to burrow in lots of deep substrate in captivity — try for at least 4-6 inches. It offers mental stimulation and helps them feel secure, which minimizes stress, which keeps your snake’s immune system in prime condition, which reduces likelihood of illness.
Keep in mind that Dumeril’s boas tend to drink lots of water, so be prepared to replace the substrate frequently.
Best Dumeril’s Boa Substrates
The best substrates offer the above benefits as well as mimic a reptile’s natural environment. In Dumeril’s boas’ natural habitat, they spend a lot of time on a sandy dirt forest floor littered with leaves. Here are some of the best substrates for re-creating that kind of environment:
- DIY naturalistic mix: 60% organic topsoil, 40% play sand. Both ingredients can be found for cheap at your local home improvement store.
- Lugarti Natural Reptile Bedding: Absorbs moisture well, is mold resistant, holds tunnels, and is not dusty. Costs $11 for a 10-quart bag.
- Zoo Med Reptisand, Natural Red: Fine, dye-free quartz sand. Costs around $15/10lbs.
- Exo Terra Desert Sand, Red: Fine, sifted, all-natural desert sand with a natural red color. Costs around $15/10lbs.
- Jurassic Reptile Substrate: Pre-cleaned, superfine, dust-free red sand for desert species. At $20 for 4 quarts, it’s fairly expensive, but it’s easy to clean, attractive, and closely mimics the Dumeril’s boa’s natural habitat. Add clay and water for tunneling potential.
- The BioDude Terra Sahara: Naturalistic substrate that is designed for desert reptiles and holds tunnels well. Priced at $50 for 36 quarts, so it’s a little expensive, but lasts a long time.
For best results, layer your substrate with plenty of untreated dry leaf litter. Dumeril’s boas LOVE leaf litter!
Good Dumeril’s Boa Substrates
These substrates aren’t as good as the above options, but they’ll do.
Okay Dumeril’s Boa Substrates
Basic options for Dumeril’s boa substrate include the following.
- Butcher paper
- Paper towels
- Blue shop towels
All are cheap, absorbent, and easy to replace. These are best suited to quarantining newly acquired snakes, as they don’t give mites anywhere to hide. Because they are 100% practical and offer no enrichment value, these are not the best for long-term care.
Avoid These Substrates at All Costs:
As with all reptiles, never use pine or cedar bedding. The oils in pine and cedar smell nice, but they can leave a chemical burn on your snake’s scales, and the fumes can cause permanent neurological damage. In a nutshell: Not even once.