My Beloved Dumerili.
I've been meaning to write up a few of my findings with these very underrated species.
I believe that many people are put off from the Article 10 paperwork needed to breed/sell these. But honestly it isn't that much of a problem, it is quite simple to do, if you take it step by step.
Acrantophis dumerili (Dumeril's ground boa also known as madagascan ground boa by CITES) are easy to keep in captivity. They come from the South of Madagascar living in forested areas where fairly deep leaf litter would be the most common ground covering, if you look at the beautiful pattern’s and colours of their skins they would disappear quite easily. Very much like a Gaboon viper would.
They are pretty much a opportunist type feeder, buried, laying in wait for their prey. That’s not to say that they will not actively hunt also.
My largest female is just over 8’ so they are a pretty small species of Boa although they are quite bulky. A good friend of mine has a female that has just exceeded the 9’ mark but I believe this to be pretty rare.
As a species they are super calm and docile, I have been keeping Dumerili for 14 years now (I checked this against the article 10 papers with my oldest female), and In all those years I have only been bitten once, that was my fault as I had been cleaning out my rodents before hand.
A 4'x2'x2' viv will house most adults, although a larger viv will be more advantageous to them. Basically I keep them pretty much the same as a Bci
I keep mine with with an ambient temp of around 82-85 deg Fahrenheit, obviously with a temperature gradient that they can choose to use a hot spot or the cooler end of the viv. I also have low level Uv lighting (but so do all my other snakes)
I use large ceramic dog water bowls for the adults, and for this species in particular they need fresh water at least 3 times a week. From what I have noticed with Dumerili they seem to drink more than most other species I have kept, especially after feeding. But remember never give them COLD water as this can make them go into shock when they gulp it down so just warm it a little to take the cold edge off..
I use Beech chip as a substrate. They love to bury them selves as youngsters as do some adults, so I put in a very deep layer of 4"+. I do not like aspen (actually I hate the stuff) so I do not us the stuff on any of my animals.
When it comes to feeding they all have Rats, with a totally random feeding regime. Basically some times I feed once a fortnight, once a month, six weekly ect. They are all fed separately as they can become very “Piggish”, it just prevents accidents (all of my snakes are fed the same)
Breeding Dumerili can have it's problems, I have found that age is as important as size with them. It is very hard to get a female ready before the age of 5 years old, so now I don’t bother until they are at the very least that.
Dumerili males seem to be prolific breeders, but they are by far the most aggressive breeders I have ever come across (except Ferrets). I lost one female a few years ago as one of my males coiled her and dropped her like doll, as he was so worked up. So now I keep a very close eye on them through out the breeding season. Also it is a must that you keep your males much smaller than the females to give the females a fairer fighting chance.
As I have many females and males I alternate the females, giving all of them a years rest after giving birth. By doing this I believe that not only do I create new blood lines but also I have large healthy clutches every year. I generally keep a few babies back each year so I can always offer unrelated pairs with an age gap.
The gestation period is a very lengthy one, 9 and a half months is the longest I have witnessed with my animals, although 8 to 9 months is more the norm.
The most bizarre thing with the Dumerili is when they are born. The first thing I notice is not a gooey mess but tiny shed skins. As soon as these incredible little creatures are born they shed their skin.
I have thought hard and long as to a reason why, and the only conclusion I can come to is for defence.
When you take in to account the lengthy gestation period I believe that they are born in the autumn. If you take this and the fact they are incredibly large as babies (almost twice the size of any Bci/Bcc), I believe they go straight in to bromation for the winter. If this is the case then their size would be a good indicator that they are born with a large yolk/fat reserve to help them last through the winter.
It would also give a good clue as to why they Slough immediately after birth, simply to clean of any scent that a predator could follow to their hiding place.
As you may know Dumerili are renowned for being fussy feeders as babies.
I have spent a countless hours trawling through the net, books, emailing various institutions ect trying to find different methods and foods to tempt these beautiful but very testing animals to feed as babies.
My biggest result was live Multi Mammates (sp) 70% would feed on these straight away the others following on shortly after.
Once this was achieved I then got them on to fresh killed then on to defrost.
However Last year I tried something different. I dropped the temps over two weeks then kept them cooled for six weeks, raising the temps after this, during a two week period. So they had been cooled for a total of ten weeks straight after birth, No feeding.
Believe it or not 99% fed on defrost in the first week at optimum temperature. The other fed a week after.............................
I knew they could do it with out any problems as I had one male not feed from birth for six months with out looking any different from any of the feeding babies.
They are a very slow growing boid, until they get to around 3 years old they seem to just slowly trundle along, once they hit the 3 year mark they seem to put on a growth spurt.
I once tried to give one female a little push along by feeding more regularly, Not quite power feeding but border line. She prolapsed. She is fine now and has had a litter since, but I have no doubt in my mind that it was my fault entirely.
I will never try this again ever…………………………………………………………………….
I have been trying to find out how long these beautiful animals live for but I can not seem to find any information on their longtivity at all. I just hope they will live for many more.
Aggression in Dumerili boas..
I have mentioned a little on this in the Breeding section. However I believe I should cover a little more.
Dumerili Boas are (in my opinion) one of the most docile boa species I have ever kept, the only time I ever witnessed any form of aggression was from males during breeding and the first 24 hours of a baby hatching. Other than that if you was to have one as a pet/companion animal, they would (in my opinion) be one of a few perfect species to keep.
Trying to find information on the Dumerili Boa constrictors is very scarce, and the little info you do find is generally copied from the same sources I read in a few places that they can be Ophiophagus (Eat other snakes). I found this hard to believe until recently.
This is what has happened, I recently took back four of my 2010 offspring (this is being written in 2012) without going in to too much detail as to why I have taken them back, they were, and still are, in perfect health, all eating very well, sloughing perfectly and excreting as they should.
After a period of quarantine, I introduced them to a vivarium with another, but slightly older female, She is a little over half the size again of the four youngsters, so the size difference isn’t that much of an issue. Bearing in mind they are all fed well, and do not have the scent of their prey on them, after about four weeks being together (all fed one week previous) the older female attacked and coiled one of the 2010 young.
I prefer to use the term “Defensive” rather than “Aggressive” for an animal that has the tendency to be, let’s say, “a little nippy” However this was not the case in this situation, it was pure and simple aggression, she wanted to kill this other snake and was not going to let go.
They were being kept in a large 6’x2’x2’ Vivarium, plenty of space for them with many hides and a few water bowls. Now obviously I separated them, and didn’t let her kill the youngster. After checking them both for injuries, none was apparent, I washed them both down with a weak mix of F10 (a superb detergent that has many safe uses with reptiles) to make sure it wasn’t a scent that provoked the attack.
After a few hours, I put them both back in to the large vivarium (the others still in there) this older female made a bee line directly for this youngster and instantly went for the Kill again.
This older female is now alone and possibly gravid (I will know in a few months or so), but what I cannot make out, is why this individual snake? And after being together for around four weeks with no problems. I sexed all four youngsters again, I had one male and three females, the victim of the attack was a female. So what is different from her to the other 2 females?
If it was the young male that was attacked then I would have put it down to her being none responsive to breeding. The other strange thing is that the older female has been kept with other Dumerili for many years with no problems at all, no aggression in the slightest. This is a bit of a mystery to me; however it has changed my view on my husbandry techniques a little.
I have still never had any “defensive” or “Aggressive” behaviour towards myself or any other human that has come in contact with my Dumerili. So I still stand by my original post that they are super docile, but I’ll just alter it slightly to “Super docile to their keepers”.