Dumeril’s Ground Boa

Acrantophis dumerili

Order: Squamata

Family: Boidae

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat

  • Dumeril’s ground boas are found in the dry forests in southwest Madagascar. It has also been found living in very degraded habitats, often close to villages.

Longevity

  • Dumeril’s ground boas live approximately 20 to 30 years.

Ecosystem Role

  • They are important for population control of prey species.

Husbandry Information

Housing Requirements

  • Life Cycle Natural History Relevant Information
    • Bowl large and deep enough for the snake to submerge itself but shallow enough (or with branches, rocks, etc.) that the snake can move in and out with ease.
    • Hides in both the warmer and cooler ends of the enclosure.
    • Include rough and smooth areas/items/substrates to aid with shedding.
  • Temperature, Humidity, Light Cycles
  • Substrate
  • Social Housing/Colony Management
    • This is not a social species.
  • Other General Housing Requirements or Management information

Diet Requirements

  • Life Cycle Relevant Information
    • In the wild, this snake eats small mammals killed by constriction at ground level.
    • Dumeril’s ground boas are nocturnal predators. They will lay virtually motionless for long periods of time, waiting for an unwary prey animal to pass. When the prey is in range, the boa strikes out, grabs the prey, and kills it via constriction.
  • Diet under human care
    • In captivity, they are fed rats.

Veterinary Concerns

Enrichment

  • Behavioral Relevant Information
    • Dumeril’s boas are ambush predators.
  • Environmental Enrichment
    • Branches and elevated shelves that can support their weight
    • Novel substrates offered in a removable tray for tactile stimulation
    • Changing out rocks, hides, and branches
  • Behavioral Enrichment
    • Food items can be drug in a trail around the enclosure if the animal is out to encourage tongue flicking.
    • With veterinary approval, browse or furniture that has been in with mammals can be very stimulating.
    • Always provide heavily scented items in small amounts and on one side of the enclosure so the snake can move away if uncomfortable. Monitor for signs of stress.

Training

  • Behaviors Trained
  • Reinforcers used & schedule of reinforcement

Programmatic Information

Messaging Themes

Handling & Presentation Tips

Use Guidelines

  • Should not be handled for 2 days after eating.
  • Should not be handled from the time they go “blue” (eyes turn opaque) until after they shed.
  • It is helpful to have a DO NOT USE sign keepers can hang on the enclosure. Some institutions also include the date, “I was blue starting on ___,” or “I was fed on ___.”

Public Contact and Interaction Guidelines

  • Public can be permitted to touch this snake while it is being held by a handler. The handler should stay aware of the head location at all times, redirecting as necessary to keep it facing away from guests.
  • Encourage guests to use two-finger touching, moving down the body (in the same direction as the scales) in order to prevent accidental lifting of scales.

Transportation Tips

  • Brandywine Zoo: During cool weather (under 65°F), supplemental heat is provided with a hot water bottle set to one side of the cooler. Wrap bottle with newspaper for lizards or snakes traveling with the bottle loose, to make cleanups easier in the case of defecation while traveling.

Crating Techniques

  • Brandywine Zoo: reptiles travel in a Coleman style coolers that have been amended with extra ventilation holes on the lid (with a wood-burning tool). Small and medium sized snakes travel inside an inside-out, knotted pillowcase. Large snakes travel loose in the cooler that is also bungeed shut.

Temperature Guidelines

Acquisition Information

  • Once exported from Madagascar in large numbers for the pet trade, they are now readily bred in captivity and can be found in the private sector.
  • After looking at other AZA institutions for surplus animals, check with your local herpetological society and reptile rescue organizations.  Many of these animals are purchased by the public at reptile stores and expos and owners are unable to keep them for their whole lifespan. If purchasing, look for a reputable breeder to avoid wild caught specimens.

Documents

Resources

Contributors and Citations

  • The Philadelphia Zoo
  • Houston Zoo, Natural Encounters

Comments from the Rating System

  • Houston Zoo: Ours was way too much of a scaredy-cat and tended to bite when startled

Cover Photo: Brandywine Zoo