“Substrate” is another word for bedding, the material you use to cover your reptile’s floor. The right choices in Dumeril’s boa substrate can help regulate humidity and promote good health. The wrong substrate can be unhygienic and even kill your snake in some cases.
Basic options for Dumeril’s boa substrate include the following.
- Butcher paper
- Paper towels
- Blue shop towels
All are cheap, absorbent, and easy to replace. They are especially good for quarantining newly acquired snakes, as they don’t give mites anywhere to hide. That being said, personally I dislike them because they are 100% practical and offer no enrichment value (although I will say that the shop towels are very impressive).
These are best suited for large breeding operations, snake collections, or a boa temporarily in quarantine.
Because Dumeril’s boas are ground dwellers, they like to burrow in lots of deep substrate – try for about 4-6 inches. It offers mental stimulation and helps them feel secure, which minimizes stress, which keeps your snake’s immune system in prime condition, which reduces likelihood of illness. Good loose substrates include:
- Coconut bark: fluffy and very absorbent. Good if you live in a dry climate.
- Cypress mulch: tends to compact, so it needs regular fluffing. Good if you live in a dry or semi-humid climate.
- Aspen shavings (not splinters): cheap, fluffy, but does not retain moisture well. Good if you live in a semi-humid to humid climate.
If you use a loose substrate, lay down a layer of paper or paper towel before putting in the loose stuff.
Avoid at All Costs
As with all reptiles, never use pine or cedar bedding. The oils in pine and cedar smell nice, but they can leave a chemical burn on your snake’s scales, and the fumes can cause permanent neurological damage. In a nutshell: Not even once.
PRO TIP: Dumeril’s boas tend to drink a lot of water, so they pee often. If you choose to use a paper substrate, it will need changing as soon as it is soiled. If you use a loose substrate, it will need to be replaced every week.