Desert Sand Boa

Scientific Name: Eryx Miliaris

Desert Sand Boa

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The Desert Sand Boa, Eryx miliaris, is one of the smallest members of the boa family. Rarely do adult females exceed a length of two feet and for the males, the longest measure eighteen inches. They exhibit a large variation both in coloration and pattern. The most common color is variations of tan with darker blotches offering contrast along the snake’s back. These blotches, normally black, olive green, rusty brown or dark brown, usually fuse forming stripes on either side of the snake’s tail. A few species of this snake are orange in color. They can live for over twenty years.

Desert Sand Boas Are Beautiful Creatures

Desert Sand Boa

Facts About Desert Sand Boas

Geographic Location

The Desert Boa is commonplace in arid parts of Central Asia. The range extends to parts south of the former USSR especially along the Caspian Sea shores. Locating the Desert Sand Boa in Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia is not a rare occurrence. In effect, its precise range is hard to delimit considering the snake occurs in many countries that western researchers rarely travel.


This snake prefers rocky, sandy steppes.


They spend a better part of the day basking below the surface of the sand, exposing their heads only. They ambush unsuspecting prey, biting and constricting it to death.


A three-month winter rest is necessary for effective brumation. The males do not feed that much after brumation as they look for viable mates. Courtship, as well as copulation, takes place underground. They keep their tails elevated above ground level as intromission takes place. When pregnant they lie around in warm areas and maternal instinct makes them bite readily. The Eryx miliaris is ovoviviparous, giving birth to live young. Gestation period lasts anything from four to six months. Currently, there are no records to quantify the number of snakes they give birth to. A majority of females breed biennially. (McLean, 1982). The female species of this snake species attains sexual maturity after three or four years, while males take three years. The voracious feeding habit of the male sneak resurfaces when the breeding season is complete, that is in early spring.


The Desert Sand Boa is much easier to house and feed than most snake species including those bred primarily as pets. They rarely strike but have a characteristic wild sideways lunge albeit with little accuracy. Even under trepidation, captive born, raised snakes do not bite. This is a tribute to their unrivalled docile manner. Nevertheless, they are aggressive feeders striking at anything that remotely bears a resemblance to prey. Food items must not be bigger than the diameter of the snake’s head. Adult boas are happy on a diet of mice. As is the case with most boas in captivity, pre killed mice are the safest diet. This eliminates instances of regurgitation and harm to the snake. Younger snakes might take a while before they get used to the idea of eating pinkie mice. They prefer small lizards like geckos although handlers must wean them off this as soon as possible. Modest cages offer good enclosures. To illustrate, plastic sweater boxes or ten-gallon aquariums will do.

Desert Sand Boa
Snakes can’t bite food so they have to swallow it whole.