Candoia aspera / Viperboa - Care

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Specification Description
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Boidae
Subfamily: Candoiinae
Scientific name: Candoia aspera
English name: Viper boa
Reproduction: Viviparous
Status: Non threatened
Cites: B / II

Candoia aspera, (Gunther, 1877)

Physical characteristics:  The Candoia aspera is a relatively small boa species. On average this snake will only get about 60cm, individuals of 80-100cm are a big exception. The scales are strongly coarse/keeled and they have a stocky physique and the tail is relatively short - only 7-8% of the total length. The reason this species in English is sometimes called the "Viper boas” is because of  the similarity in build and pattern with the Death Adder (Acanthophis) which also occurs in the same area. They blend in perfectly with their surroundings and are well camouflaged.


Behaviour:  These nocturnal animals are very shy by nature. During the day they stay buried in the loose soil or in leaf litter. Sometimes, they are found in the water during the day. In the twilight and at night they become most active and are looking for food. This species can swim very well and it is not unusual for them to be found bathing in shallow pools of water. Climbing does this species, unlike some other species of Candoia, little to non. Wild caught animals can be very defensive if they get upset, disturbed or handled. Animals seem to get more calm if they get settled in captivity. But for hobbyist who like to handle their animals this is not an appropriate species.


Origin and habitat:  The Candoia aspera is a boa that occurs in a large part of New Guinea, and various islands including the Solomon’s, Bougainville, Manus, and the Moluccas islands in the Bismarck Archipelago. Their natural habitat consists of wet lowlands, forests and swamps where the water level is under the influence of the tides and the rainy season. It is not uncommon that these regions will be seasonally flooded.


Housing:  Given these snakes hardly climb the height of the enclosure is not so important as a proper ground surface. Through his timid nature and reclusive life style and terrestrial needs this snake would 'fit' to be housed in the known snake 'rack'. However, you can also choose for a naturally decorated (bio-active) terrarium. This is not only very nice to look at and has a lower maintenance level. You will also be able to observe them better during the night when they are active and we can all agree this is an important and big part of keeping reptiles, observing their interesting behaviours. A terrarium that is very suitable for the Candoia aspera is the Exo-Terra Glass terrarium of 60x45x30 till 90x45x45. These have a sufficient floor area for a single animal, are well ventilated and have a good locking system.

Give a substrate of at least 8cm deep seen these animals love to dig. The best one can choose is a substrate that holds moisture well as coco peat soil or coco chips. Optionally, you can mix it with reptibark, bark or cypress mulch. Keep the soil moist at all times but not wet. If the environment gets to dry the snake will have trouble shedding properly. Maintain the average humidity around 70-80% and do regular misting’s to maintain this level. As these snake love to soak it is important to provide them with a waterbowl that is large enough for them to fully submerge in. Keep in mind these snakes often defecate in the water. So exchange the water daily and disinfect the waterbowl ones a week.  Decorate the terrarium further with several hides as reptile caves, cork trunks and tropical wood. In a terrarium you may also add live plants like small Ficus and Scindapsus. Plants help a lot with maintaining the humidity, they provide extra hides and it is a nice way to decorate your terrarium.
Heating may be placed at one side by means of a heat radiator or ceramic heater connected to a thermostat in order to avoid too high temperatures. A heat spot lamp is not recommended because these animals do not naturally bask in the sun. Lightening with a low wattage light bulb like a compact daylight lamp or fluorescent tube will mimic the natural day-night rhythm. This species requires a moderate but fairly constant temperature. There is in their natural habitat little difference between day and night temperatures. Provide an average temperature of 26-28 degrees Celsius with a hotspot of 30-32C. At night the temperature may drop to 24C.


Diet:  Their natural diet consists mainly of various species of frogs and small lizards like geckos and skinks, just sporadic they will eat a small rodent. Because of this natural diet especially new-born Candoia seem reluctant to accept small rodents right after birth. Because of this it is sometimes necessary to assist or force feed a few times before they start feeding on their own. Another possibility is to scent a (alive)pinky mouse with a lizard or frog. The young Candoia will often react to the smell and soon start feeding on these scented prey. Ones the young had several of this scented prey you can reduce the amount of scenting so they get completely used to feeding on rodents. Adult wild-caught animals seem easy to switch to small (alive) rodents.

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