East African Sand Boa
Kenyan Sand Boa
Egyptian Sand Boa
East African sand boas have stout, compact bodies, small eyes set forward on a small head and seemingly truncated tails. They have a grey, yellow or orange background (depending on the predominant soil color from their region) which is blotched with rust, brown, grey or black. They are believed to be nocturnal, but may hunt underground during the day. Their maximum size is nearly three feet (90+ centimeters), but average sizes of 1 to 2 feet (30-60 centimeters) are more common. They can live in excess of 15 years.
East African sand boas are found in Northern and Eastern Africa and also Yemen. They are found in Egypt, Libya, Chad, Niger, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are widely distributed within their range and are found in open grasslands, savannas, semi-desert and desert habitats and associated arid sandy habitats. They are fossorial and spend a majority of their time mostly hidden with only their head exposed. Often, they bury themselves in friable substrate, or hide in holes, logs or rocks waiting to ambush prey.
East African sand boas adapt well to captivity and do not require a lot of space. A 20-gallon aquarium is large enough for an adult snake. Although they have been kept successfully under even the most Spartan conditions, we strongly believe in the use of natural vivariums. As such, East African sand boas should be provided with 2-3 inches (5-8 centimeters) of a substrate suitable for burrowing in. This does not necessarily need to be sand, but sand should be used in conjunction with other substrates to provide a smoother, more natural burrowing medium. Play sand or any of the many commercially available reptile sands can be used. Logs, rocks, cactus skeletons or drought-tolerant, heavy-bodied plants can be used to embellish the enclosure, but all heavy décor should be carefully anchored (or placed on the bottom of the enclosure and surrounded with substrate) so as to not crush the snakes when they burrow. An undertank heating source, a basking light or a combination of the two should be placed at one end of the enclosure and provide a basking temperature of about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This, combined with the depth of substrate will allow the snake to successfully thermoregulate. Humidity should be kept at a minimum, but with adequate heat even the occasional watering of plants should not cause problems. It is believed that sand boas get most of the moisture they require from their food but it is a good idea to occasionally offer a small shallow water dish. In larger, well-heated and ventilated enclosures, the water dish may be able to be a permanent fixture without causing problematic additional humidity. Since East African sand boas are nocturnal, UV lighting is not necessary (but if plants are used it may be necessary for them).
East African sand boas are carnivorous and mostly eat small rodents. Juveniles and young snakes will occasionally exhibit a preference for lizards. Other small vertebrate prey may also be accepted. Sand boas adapt quite well to eating thawed frozen rodents as well.
East African sand boas are docile by nature, but may release a foul smelling odor when initially handled (similar to that of garter snakes).
Sand boas are also prone to a host of stress-induced problems (including lack of appetite) if they are not provided with adequate shelters/hiding places. One of the best ways to ensure they are happy is to provide them with appropriate and adequate substrate.