Boa constrictor brumation

This has long been a very debated topic, and opinions vary among breeders. The convinced breeder gradually reduces the lighting period and temperature in the enclosures before the mating season begins. During this so-called “cooling period”, the snakes are not to be fed, since the metabolism of the animals is reduced to such a degree that appropriate digestion may no longer be possible. Reducing the lighting period and lowering the temperature is done in various ways. Some boid keepers reduce the temperature by just 2° Centigrade (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and the lighting period by 2 hours, others implement a nighttime drop to 15° Centigrade (59 degrees Fahrenheit) and turn the lights off entirely. This is often done without detailed knowledge of the climatic conditions that are apparent in the distribution areas of the animals. The record holder in temperature reduction is a boid keeper in Bavaria, who bromated his ball python together with his colubrids at about 8° Centigrade (46 degrees Fahrenheit). Needless to say, the ball python did not survive.

After a certain period of time, which lies between four and ten weeks, depending on the breeder, the normal temperature is gradually reestablished, and … the antibiotic injections are prepared.

This brings us to an important aspect. Most of the boas that are used for breeding in this country are bred and raised in captivity or long-term captive wild-caught specimens. These animals no longer have the same tolerance towards variations in temperature that specimens in the wild have. This results in captive animals often getting a respiratory infection from the so-called “cooling period”. In that case, breeding season is obviously over for the animal.

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To our knowledge, almost all of the species of boids kept in this country have been successfully bred without a “cooling period” by now. This includes species that come from distribution areas, where it can get pretty chilly. An example for this is Boa c. occidentalis, the Argentine boa. This species has been regularly reproduced by an acquaintance of ours without any change in lighting period or temperature, which was actually rather high (30° C [86 F] daytime, 26° C [79 F] nighttime).

We wish to point out an aspect that is rarely ever paid much attention to: Due to the increased ambient temperature in the room, the nighttime drop occurs significantly slower in the summer months than it does in the winter.

One example: The daytime temperature is 29° C (84 F) with a nighttime drop by 6° C (10.8 F). Due to the relatively high room temperature (which in turn is caused by the higher ambient temperature outside), the nighttime low temperature in the summer months is not reached until the early morning hours, while it only takes about an hour or so to reach nighttime lows in the wintertime, when outside temperatures are as low as
-10° Centigrade (14 degrees Fahrenheit) in some regions.

The number of daytime hours is thereby changed without any additional modifications. It is therefore valid that if a cooling period is necessary for the reproduction of boas, then such is automatically established through faster cooling at nighttime in the winter months. The same also applies for the reduction of daylight hours. This type of automatic “cooling” does not cause any harm to the animals and is more likely to lead to a successful reproduction than any kind of forced brumation.