Kenyan Sand Boa

Russel is our male Kenyan Sand Boa. He is several years old and fully grown. Male sand boas do not get very large. The females can be twice their size. Russel is very sweet and loves to stay burrowed in his substrate.
Common Name:  Kenyan Sand Boa
Scientific Name: Eryx colubrinus
Type: Boa
Diet: Carnivore
Average Life Span: 15 years
Size: Females - 26 to 32 inches in length; Males up to 15 inches in length
IUCN Red List Status: Unknown
Current Population Trend: Unknown

About the Kenyan Sand Boa

The Kenyan sand boa is a heavy-looking reptile with a blunt head, small eyes, and a thick, short body. Its belly is white or cream colored and its back has orange or yellow coloration with dark brown splotches. The tail is very short and tapers quickly to a dull point and can’t be coiled. The boa’s eyes and nostrils are placed on the head so that they remain free of debris when the snake’s body is hidden below the sand


Found in East Africa, Egypt south to Tanzania, and southwest Somalia west to Kenya in semi-arid desert regions, scrub savannahs, and rock outcroppings.



The Kenyan sand boa spends most of its life buried in the sand where it is invisible. It will also hide under stones and in the burrows of other animals.

Because of the desert heat, it is not active during the midday heat, only emerging early in the morning and in the evening to search for food. It seizes its prey and suffocates it between the coils of its body, only relaxing its embrace when the animal stops breathing. It then swallows its victim whole, without chewing, in the same way as other snakes. This snake is considered a docile species and rarely strikes or bites. In fact when threatened, it buries itself quickly and carefully in soft ground, usually sand.


Sand boas eat mainly rodents, such as mole rats and lizards. Their main predator is the desert monitor lizard.

Interesting Facts
  • When food is scarce, sand boas may live over a year without any food at all.
  • Sand boas are some of the smallest boa species on Earth.
  • The Kenyan sand boa typically hunts by lying in wait under sand and ambushing passing prey.
  • It has been known to kill small prey by dragging it under the sand to suffocate it.
  • The male Kenyan sand boa may have to dig the female out of the sand before mating can occur.

Source: Utah's Hogle Zoo