Rainbow boas are a group of non-poisonous snakes living primarily in South America. There are several snakes that are part of the rainbow boa family, but the Brazilian rainbow boa is generally the most well-known representative. These animals have reddish skin with a pattern of black twisting lines. Their skin has the ability to refract light when viewed from the right angle, which gives it a rainbow-like appearance. They generally grow to approximately 5 feet (1.5 meters) long, but some can potentially reach 7 feet (2.1 meters).
The rainbow boa is known to like moist places with a lot of humidity, so it can often be found in tropical forest environments. These snakes generally eat anything that is small enough for them to digest. This would include animals like rats, birds, and smaller reptiles. The snakes will go wherever they need to in the effort to capture food, including up into the trees to get birds.
Like most boas, they gradually suffocate their prey by coiling around it and squeezing with their muscles. They have the capacity to swallow their prey whole, but it is very important that the boa kill the animals first. This is because there is a lot of potential for injury or death when snakes accidentally swallow a live animal.
This danger of injury can be an important consideration among people who keep the rainbow boa in captivity. Some feed them live prey animals, like small mice and rats, while others prefer to use animals that have already been killed. Even though the boa is capable of killing its own prey, when they are kept in captivity, some fear that they may not be as deft as their purely wild counterparts, and other owners are squeamish about handling live prey animals. Many pet stores offer both live and dead mice to feed to pet snakes in order to cater to both groups of owners.
The rainbow boa is a very common snake for people to keep in captivity. This is mostly because many people consider them to be particularly beautiful animals. One of the main concerns among people who keep them as pets is maintaining the proper humidity in the environment. It can be very unhealthy for the snake if the environment is too dry, but at the same time, if the owner lets things get too moist, there is a danger of skin infections. Their temperament when being handled by people can sometimes be nervous and they may be prone to biting out of fear.