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Why has my boa constrictor refused food for weeks?

Front view of a boa constrictor's head.

This one looks like it might be hungry.

Why has my boa constrictor refused food for weeks?

March 18, 2013

Q: I own a Hog Island boa constrictor. She is refusing food and shedding. It has been 5 or 6 weeks since she last ate a rat. What should I do? I don’t want her to die!

A: Habitat, temperatures, and shedding all have to do with whether a snake will not eat. Make sure that your temps are correct.

When a snake is getting ready to shed they may go off food until done. Since your snake is shedding you may have to help by doing some soaks during the day to help the shed come off. If there is a problem shedding there is usually an underkying problem. This could be the humidity is too low, a husbandry problem, or some other medical issue. I would also pick up some shed ease to help aid with the shedding.

Lighting can affect the snakes as they will not hibernate, but without the proper light cycle it can decrease the appetite. It is known that some snakes can go off prey for a year at a time.

I would make sure the snake is getting a good soak, so she is not getting dehydrated. Get a weight to be sure she is not losing weight (see this information sheet).

Try some different type of prey. Some snakes will start eating if the diet is changed up a bit. You could try some hamsters or even a rabbit kitten.

If there seems to be weight loss, then a herp vet visit should be done.

-- Answer by Joan Vokes, a reptile specialist on JustAnswer.

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