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Arabian Sand Boa Care: Diet, Setup, Facts

Arabian Sand Boa Care

Beginner reptile owners will want to take a closer look at the Arabian sand boa. These snakes are relatively easy to care for and can be lots of fun to observe in their natural habitat. You won’t be disappointed with one of these snakes in your care. 

Here’s what you need to know about the Arabian sand boa. 

Arabian Sand Boa Facts

Common NameArabian sand boa, Jayakar’s sand boa
Scientific NameEryx jayakari
Natural HabitatDeserts of the Arabian Peninsula
Adult Size15 to 16 inches
Enclosure Size15” x 7” x 7”
DietFrozen mice
Lifespan20 years
Experience LevelBeginner

Where Do Arabian Sand Boas Live? 

As you might expect from the name, this species of snake is common to the Arabian Peninsula, where it can remain burrowed in the sand of the desert.

Many people find this species in counties like Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and even in the southern parts of Iran. 

Arabian Sand Boa Appearance, Colors and Morphs

arabian sand boa colors

Arabian sand boas come in subtle shades of brown and tan, allowing them to more easily blend into their desert habitats.

Instead of being one solid color, they will have both light and dark areas across their bodies that makes camouflage easy. 

One important distinction that sets the Arabian sand boa apart from other species is the head. It isn’t distinct from the rest of the body, which gives them a cylindrical look.

The nose is blunt at the end of their head, and their eyes are fixed on top. This gives them the ease to see out of the sand in which they’re buried. 

Of course, the difference between male and female is also important to note. Males will have a bit more of a tail whereas the female offers a less distinct tail. 

How Big Do Arabian Sand Boas Get?

These are relatively small snakes, making them great for a reptile owner who doesn’t have much space for a large enclosure.

Most of these snakes will range in length from 15 to 16 inches, with the females tending to be longer

The Typical Lifespan Of Arabian Sand Boas

When well taken care of, the Arabian sand boa can live for a very long time in captivity. Only buy this snake if you can make a long-term commitment to its care.

Most will see a lifespan of roughly 20 years with an experienced owner. 

How to Care for Arabian Sand Boas

arabian sand boa tank setup

Tank Size

The good news is that due to their small size, you can keep the Arabian sand boa in a relatively small enclosure.

At a minimum, the tank should be about 15 inches long by 7 inches by 7 inches. This means that a standard 5- to 10-gallon tank should be sufficient to hold your new snake. 

Lighting and Temperature

Arabian sand boas are nocturnal snakes which means that having a clear day and night cycle in your enclosure is a necessity.

Keep them on a 12-hour day and 12-hour night pattern easily with the help of a digital timer. You can also implement an infrared light during the night if you prefer to watch your snake during its active hours. 

As far as temperature is concerned, you’ll need to make sure that your Arabian sand boa stays quite warm.

Their natural habitat in the desert is hot and arid, so your enclosure needs to be too. Like most snakes, they need a temperature gradient.

On the warm side of the enclosure, you should aim for a temperature of 85°F (29°C) with an even warmer basking spot at 90°F to 95°F (32°C to 35°C).

This can be achieved with an under-tank mat like the Zoo Med Repti-Therm Under Tank Heater and a basking lamp. 

The cool side is likely to just need ambient temperatures in your home, at roughly 75°F (23°C). This allows them to regulate their own internal temperatures. 

Do Arabian Sand Boas Need UVB? 

Like many nocturnal snakes, this species of sand boa doesn’t require UVB light to remain healthy. You may prefer to use a UVB lamp to achieve the proper temperature gradient and it won’t do your snake any harm though. 

If desired, you might want to consider using a light like the Exo Terra Solar Glo, which offers a 3-in-1 solution (visual light, heat, and UVB). 

Substrate

Your Arabian sand boa is used to burrowing in its natural habitat, so you want a substrate that will allow them to do just that.

Combine two of the leading beddings, the Zoo Med Aspen Snake bedding and the Exo Terra Desert Sand in a minimum 2-inch thickness. This combination is perfect for allowing your snake to burrow. 

Humidity

While some snakes require foggers or daily misting, you can likely avoid some of this headache by getting an Arabian sand boa.

They’re famous for living in arid climates which means that they don’t need much in terms of humidity. 

Ideally, your hygrometer should measure at 50 percent or less. You may want to increase this a little bit if you notice that your sand boa is about to shed.

However, you are much better off by giving them a moist hide lined with sphagnum moss to help them shed. 

If you find that your humidity levels are consistently higher than this, you may need to increase the ventilation in your enclosure.

You can also reposition their water dish to the cool gradient in the enclosure where it’s less likely to turn into humidity. 

Arabian Sand Boa Tank Décor

As with many species of snakes, your Arabian sand boa would like to hide most of the day. True to their name, they often do this in their substrate.

However, it’s important to keep some small hides in their enclosure as well. One on the cool side and one on the warm side should be enough. 

These Zilla Bark Bends are sufficient to give your sand boa a place to take shelter. 

As far as decoration and enrichment are concerned, you can add in rocks and artificial succulent plants.

The rocks should be situated all the way on the bottom of the enclosure so that your snake can’t burrow underneath of them.

How to Clean Their Tank

For the most part, you can spot-clean the Arabian sand boa’s enclosure on a daily basis. This will allow you to remove waste, uneaten food, and anything else that could detract from your snake’s health.

Doing so will prevent you from having to do complete cleanings as often. 

However, deep cleans should be done roughly every other month. During this time, you will need to replace all of the substrate, clean the enclosure with hot water and dish soap, and sanitize the plants or hides.

Only return your sand boa to the enclosure when everything has been thoroughly rinsed and dried. 

The Proper Diet For Arabian Sand Boas

What to Feed

The best thing to feed your Arabian sand boa is frozen mice that have been thawed and warmed. Live mice are not recommended as they can injure the snake or pass along parasites.

You should try to feed your snake mostly in the evening when they are already active. 

In the wild, they may also eat small lizards like geckos, though this can be difficult to imitate when you have them in captivity. 

How Often to Feed

Young Arabian sand boas will need to eat more frequently than adults, as is the case with many species of snakes.

Young sand boas will need to eat roughly one small pinkie mouse a week. Older sand boas can have a slightly larger mouse once every two weeks. 

How Long Can They Go Without Food

Especially during brumation, your Arabian sand boa might start to refuse their food. They can go a few months without eating, especially if they are already on the heavy side. 

If you are concerned about a snake that has a lack of appetite after an extended period of time, make sure they have the proper temperature and humidity levels.

When all else fails, book them an appointment with a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles. 

Do Arabian Sand Boas Need To Drink Water?

It’s always a good idea to include a small dish of water in the enclosure for your sand boa. Make sure that your snake can easily get in and out of the water dish without getting trapped.

This may mean that you need to get a smaller dish, as well as one that cannot easily be tipped over. 

Vitamins and Minerals

The good news is that your Arabian sand boa doesn’t require much in the way of supplements if you’re feeding them regularly.

A mouse gives them all of the nutrients they need to remain in a healthy state without the need for vitamins and minerals. 

Arabian Sand Boa Behavior and Temperament

Arabian Sand Boa behavior

Snake owners who are looking forward to handling their new reptile may be disappointed with an Arabian sand boa.

Most of these snakes tend to be nervous around people and may do all that they can to get away from you. Oftentimes, this means burrowing deeper in their substrate when you come around. 

That being said, these snakes are still relatively calm. If you do manage to find your sand boa and pick them up, you aren’t likely to have any issues with them wriggling out of your hands.

For the snakes who do feel threatened, they tend to bite without warning. 

They are also nocturnal, meaning that they likely keep a different timetable than you do. If you want to see your snake moving around and hunting, then you’ll need to stay up past the point when their day light goes out. 

Are Arabian Sand Boas Good Pets? 

Because these snakes need very little in terms of maintenance and care, they’re excellent pets for beginners.

Arabian sand boas are fun to watch burrow through their enclosure and can even be handled if you have the patience to pursue them.

After a while, they will get used to your presence around them and can easily be handled. 

Can You Really Handle Arabian Sand Boas?

These non-venomous snakes are quite easy to handle once you catch them. Unlike some small snakes that move quickly, the sand boa moves a bit slower.

While they can be hard to see and track through the sand of their enclosure, it’s not impossible to get to a point where they can be handled. 

Their small size makes it easy to support and hold them. Try positioning them in the palm of your hand so that their whole body is supported, rather than allowing them to dangle from the fingers.

This will make them feel more secure and give them some room to move freely. 

If your snake doesn’t come to you right away, fear not. They will get used to you over time if you stick with it.

Arabian Sand Boas Common Health Problems

Perhaps the most common health problem facing these small snakes is obesity. It’s easy for an owner to overdo their diet – and your Arabian sand boa will certainly eat it!

If you let your snake become overweight, it can lead to serious health issues with both their heart and liver. Make an effort not to overfeed your snake. 

Make sure that you only use recommended substrates. Anything that’s too harsh on their scales can lead to uncomfortable symptoms of abrasion.

If you do notice abrasion, try swapping out the substrate for something softer like the Repti Sand. 

Of course, they’re also prone to some of the same illnesses that all snakes can encounter: scale rotmouth rot, and even respiratory infections.

Keep an eye on them to make sure that nothing is amiss when it comes to their overall health. 

Where to Buy Arabian Sand Boas

Arabian Sand Boa breeders

Arabian Sand Boa Breeders

This species of snake is a bit challenging to find, but some local pet stores have started to carry them.

If you prefer to get yours from a well-known captive breeder, consider My Exotic Pet Store. Hopefully, these snakes will become more plentiful in the future. 

Arabian Sand Boa Price

Because these snakes are hard to find, you might see a hefty price tag accompanying them. They can range anywhere from $300 to $1,000 based on their age and gender. 

Arabian Sand Boa Breeding

If you intend to breed your Arabian sand boas, you will need to prepare in advance. Lower their temperature by about 10°F and give them a slightly longer nighttime (14 hours as opposed to the standard 12).

After three months of this, you can place a male and female snake together for one week until you notice that the female is gravid. 

The female will lay eggs in a nesting box where you will need to incubate them at 90°F (32°C) for about two months until they hatch. 

A Final Word

Arabian sand boas are unique-looking snakes that are perfect for beginners. They are easy to take care of and can adjust well to frequent handling.

If you have been thinking about adding a snake to your collection and want something low-maintenance, the Arabian sand boa is likely to be a great fit.

Pierre And The ReptileCraze Team
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