California Breeders Union

Boiga

Introduction to the genus


Boiga are rear fanged venomous snakes. This genus has proven to be an advanced genus historically, and although captive bred specimens eliminate (or reduce) some of the inherent obstacles of wild caught specimens this genus is not for new, inexperienced or undetermined keepers. 

Why are Boiga difficult?
 They are not difficult, but can be - it depends on the specific animal, its origins and the keeper. I will outline some of the reasons below.

Wild caught
These are animals captured in their native habitat and exported for the pet trade. Historically due to a complexity of issues (from country of origin lacking economic stability, the expense of importing and the tedious care required to properly establish this genus as wild caught, among others....) this genus has traditionally fallen into the category of cheap disposable import snakes. It is a hard truth, but a truth nonetheless. The commonly imported species would be Boiga dendrophila dendrophila, Boiga dendrophila melanota, Boiga cynodon, Boiga drapiezii & Boiga nigriceps.  While historically the Malaysian species (all but dendrophila dendrophila) tend to come to the states in better condition, all offer challenges. These include heavy parasite loads (exacerbated by stress, dehydration and cramped oft subpar conditions), as well as the genera's thin build and lack of large fat reserves and muscle that frequently imported boids would have... lends this species to crash hard and fast when imported. Couple these factors with their relatively inexpensive cost and you have a group of animals which will require an extensive understanding of parasitic, fungal and bacterial infections (or access to a good veterinarian) but a lack of financial incentive for the average buyer to jump through these hoops to properly establish the specimens. I strongly urge those interested in this genus to NOT buy wild caught specimens unless you have two prerequisites: 1.) A good understanding of the aforementioned topics 2.) an actual need for the specimens to establish foundation stock for the species in captivity or to expand bloodlines for the species in captivity. If you want a pet snake - buy a captive bred animal. The bush should in my opinion not be the source for the end buyer pet owner.

Feeding
many Boiga species  and will not readily eat normal food items like rodents, either due to a predisposition for frogs, lizards, birds, or simply due to the incredibly small size some species hatch out at (i.e. ceylonensis, multomaculata, drapiezii etc...). Boiga have low fat and muscle reserves, especially as neonates. "Waiting them out" to encourage them to get hungry enough to eat the item you have easier access to is not an option for any species in the genus. They simply are not built to withstand going weeks without food, if your animal (whether established or not) is not voluntarily taking the food items it should be offered, force feeding is often required. Put simply, if a juvenile snake refuses a feeding it should be force fed until it resumes to feeding. Waiting even a few weeks can be a death sentence. With that said, use logic. If your snake has an affinity for uncommon fare, don't simply force feed because it is inconvenient to source such food items. Don't buy a snake if you can't provide it what it needs. Force feeding is a last resort, but unfortunately it something which must be done with many species. Here is a link going over the how to of this: 

Husbandry
 Overall we house neonates in racks. We use a thick layer of paper towels, along with a large "wad" of paper towels which have been sprayed lightly with water. This provides a clean hiding & perching place for juvenile animals. We use small disposable water dishes. The enclosure is checked daily, and if the animal has defecated the entire cage is changed out with new substrate and a new water bowl. It is simple and works. Setting up large lavish cages with perches and plants may be an option for adults, if that is your preference... but setting up neonates in this fashion is something I strongly advise against doing. Simple, clean, and logical is what I recommend for juveniles.

Me on Guadalcanal with a Boiga irregularis which a group of local villagers were about to eliminate. After some convincing and fast movement I was able to remove the snake and no "bush knife" touched it. It was released into a nearby riparian habitat.



FOR CURRENT AVAILABILITY PLEASE GO TO MY AVAILABLE PAGE. Prices below are current 2016 market prices.


Boiga (Toxicodryas) blandingii, (HALLOWELL, 1844)
$750.00 pair
Named after Dr. William Blanding (1772-1857), American naturalist.

T. blandingii are no longer grouped with Boiga, but fascinate me and we have a small CB group. This is a central African species, with anecdotal reports of them packing a pretty decent punch of venom. We do not recommend this species of inexperienced keepers, and will only sell offspring to those who are over 21 in legal states. This is more than the law requires, but it is what we require to feel that we are doing the animals and our hobby justice. 

Sexual dimorphism:
This species is highly sexually dimorphic, with blotchy brown females and subadults, and black and yellow phase adult males.

Husbandry notes: This species is at the larger end of this group of snakes. Hatchlings are large enough for fuzzy mice, and generally feed without any issue. They are less challenging captives than many other species.

Range map
 








Toxicodryas pulverulenta (Fischer, 1856)





Boiga guangxiensis (WEN, 1998)
NA
Very little is known about this snake. I recently imported 3 Captive Bred and Born specimens from Europe, and these are the only specimens currently in North American herpetoculture. 

These are mid-sized neonates, thickly built like the dendrophila complex, but with some throat puffing abilities like cynodon. They go through and ontogenetic color change and as seen in the photos below have a fiery juvenile phase of reds, oranges, creams and yellows with big bright red eyes.

We hope to be able to add unrelated lines in the coming years to establish this species in the states properly.

Range map:



Boiga dendrophila gemmicincta (DUMÉRIL, Bibron & DUMÉRIL, 1854)
$750.00 pair

This is a thick bodied (for the genus) species, which goes through a dramatic ontogenetic color change. Hatchlings have prominent yellow and orange banding, which fades to a solid black adult with no remnants of pattern or color. 

Generally a little more defensive than other species in the genus, the adults are still easy to work with but I advise using a hook when removing from the cage as their food drive is extremely high. Like the rest of the dendrophila complex, they do have a predisposition for ophiophagy; so caution should be exercised when doing introductions for breeding. Never house more than one specimen per cage unless attempting to breed them. 

This "subspecies" is restricted to Sulawesi and Togian, Indonesia. It is rarely imported as wild caught any longer, but occasionally specimens will come in. Along with other wild caught Boiga adult specimens tend to come in dehydrated, with heavy parasite loads. I do not recommend taking on such a task to establish wild caught specimens without experience and only to establish unrelated bloodlines for captive propagation. Captive bred specimens are available intermittently and if seeking a pet specimen we strongly advise waiting for captive bred animals.






Boiga cyanea (DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL, 1854)

$600.00 pair

This species like many others goes through an ontogenetic color change with neonates being a rust orange with a green head, and adults being solid green with prominent black edging between the scales. Although their range is large, most specimens in captivity have Malaysian origins. This is a species I would say is a good starting Boiga, they tend to feed well (once established) get a moderate size, and tend to have an easy going disposition.



Neonate



yearling

Adult Male


Adult female feeding


Subadult



Boiga cynodon (BOIE, 1827)

$700.00 pair

This is a large "throat puffing" Boiga which has a strong preference for birds and eggs. This species will frequently take rodents as captive bred specimens, but may require chicks and or scenting. Well known to be difficult to establish as wild caught, captive bred specimens would rank in the middle of the difficulty level.



Female leucistic cynodon in my collection


Male melanistic Phillipine locality (not in my collection or my photo), I have a pair of offspring (hets?)




Boiga nigriceps (GÜNTHER, 1863)

$550.00 pair

This is perhaps the best choice to break the ice into the genus, they tend to be the most forgiving captives in the genus and readily feed on rodents. They hatch tan to bright orange and develop into adults which can have a tan or orange body with or without a green head. We have eliminated the tan phenotype from our group and specifically work with the orange form as I find them the most attractive.



Wild caught Malaysian Animal.

Captive bred high orange specimens

Captive bred yearling starting to change color.

Captive bred traditional tan form


Captive bred near adult tan specimen with unremarkable coloration


Boiga dendrophila latifasciata (Boulenger, 1896)

$2,500.00 pair

Of the dendrophila complex, this is my favorite. They are strong snakes, hesitant to bite, always ready to feed, gorgeous and quite simply easy captives. They are very scarce in the States, with only a few specimens currently in collections. As such they command a steep price tag, but as more are produced the price will come down and become more affordable. 






Boiga kraepellini

Vietnamese Type $1,200 pair




Chinese Type- $900.00 pair





Boiga dendrophila dendrophila
(Caramel Mutation) $3,500.00 pair


Boiga dendrophila divergens $3,500.00 pair

( Left Boiga dendrophila gemmicincta Right)





Boiga dendrophila multicincta
NA


Boiga dendrophila melanota (Boulenger, 1896)