Candoia paulsoni paulsoni
These are one of the many unique Pacific Island Boa in ther genus Candoia. They are now being produced in captivity although to a limited degree and are also still imported on occasion.
These boa are a more terrestrial snake versus the arboreal lifestyle many think of when the genus Candoia is mentioned. They are somewhat stocky snakes seemingly designed for a life on the ground as adults but they can and will use climbing oppotunities if such cage furniture is provided. Some individual adult females can get surprisingly large if managed to that end. Five, possibly even six feet long Solomon Island Ground Boa have been raised in captivity though I’ve not encountered reports of wild caught animals imported at such a size. Litter size can be astonishing from a large female. Eighty or more offspring are reported.
Color and pattern are spread across nearly the entire spectrum. All of them have the zig zag dorsal pattern. On some that pattern is very dark black, distinct and contrasting. On others the pattern is so faint that you must look to see it. That dorsal pattern will usually be black, grey or brown. The zig zag pattern is painted on a background color that can vary from pale grey, yellow, orange, red, brown or even blue to very vibrant and bright white, red, orange or some combination of colors. One distinct type called the “Isabella” phase has a clean bright white background color with a dark black dorsal pattern. These especially impressive boa are highly coveted and command a high price. These “isabella phase” animals got their name from one of the islands that those C. p. paulsoni with this specific set of very contrasting attributes were collected from although less striking examples exist there as well. There are also “dirty Isabella” types out there and these are some really stunning animals. While not bright white a distinct zig zag pattern lies on a very clean and pleasant color ranging from light grey to tan, orange, yellow, red or even a pale blue. It is not clear that every boa being called an “Isabella” necessarily came from that particular island. It would seem selective breeding may be producing similar animals as well.
They do prefer a terrestrial life in my collection and spend most of their time either buried in substrate or in their water dish. Many keepers claim that these boa spend the majority of their time in their water bowl but this has not been the case with mine. While they do enter their water bowl from time to time however they seem very content buried or semi buried in their aspen. I am using a very loose flake aspen that makes it easy to burrow and I keep their tubs nearly full to the rim. I wonder if perhaps some are keeping these boa just a bit warm forcing them into their water bowl. Perhaps the boa are also seeking security or shelter if kept on a one dimensional substrate. Under my care they have a wide choice of temps and hide options within their enclosure due to the very thick and loose three dimensional substrate that I offer them. In other words they can feel secure in any temperature and level of concealment that they choose.
Established adults generally feed very well. If breeding or gravid they may go off feed. These boa can go for a very long time without eating to no ill effect. Young are another story. The fresh neonate that will take rodent prey is not the norm. Lizards and frogs are typically the correct beginning fare for these boa. Some keepers have also had success gently “assist feeding” them mouse tails to start and get them up to a size that will allow feeding thempinky mice. If any of this is intimidating for you then be certain to acquire animals already eating rodents.
Many of the Candoia ssp. are less than friendly captives. The Viper Boa, C. aspera, is known for it’s completely intolerant attitude toward all things human. Some of the arboreal varieties can be trustworthy captives while others may be more intolerant of interaction. Captive bred C. p. paulsoni are seemingly much calmer than wild caught animals.Young are especially shy which is another factor that some keepers perceive as making them difficult to start feeding. The young may hide their heads and avoid any prey offered by human hands or tongs but they become skilled predators on live lizard prey. As established adults they can be very content and trustworthy snakes that make great pets.
Here are some photos of a few in my collection: