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Corn Snake Care: An Essential Guide For Beginners



A bright orange adult corn snake comfortably resting in a large houseplant leaf, illustrating the dos and don'ts of corn snake care.


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Are you a beginner snake owner looking for an easy to care for pet? Well, look no further because captive corn snakes might be the answer to your prayers. As someone who was once in your shoes, I understand how overwhelming it can be to take care of a snake for the first time. But fear not! After extensive research and personal experience, I’ve compiled an essential guide or care sheet that will walk you through everything you need to know about keeping corn snakes as pets. Get ready to embark on an exciting journey into the world of these fascinating reptiles!

Key Takeaways 

  • Corn snakes are medium-sized reptiles aged 15-20 years and make great pets for beginners.
  • Creating the perfect habitat for your corn snake involves choosing the right enclosure and maintaining proper temperature, lighting, humidity levels, substrate, and hiding spots.
  • Feeding your corn snake a proper diet of small rodents is crucial for their health and well-being. Avoid offering live prey to prevent injury to your snake.
  • Handling and socializing your corn snake regularly will help them become comfortable with human interaction. Take it slow and be patient when handling your snake.

Origin of Wild Corn Snakes

Corn snakes carry a fascinating history. Corn snakes are among the various species of rat snakes native to the United States. The name corn snake comes from the pattern on their bellies, which looks strikingly similar to Indian maize, commonly called ‘corn.’ Despite their powerful size, they are generally docile and friendly creatures.

Corn snakes rose in popularity due to these traits, and today, they are considered excellent pets for novice and experienced snake hobbyists.

Corn Snake Care Basics

A rare pale pinkish corn snake coiled inside a ceramic bowl.

Corn snakes are medium-sized reptiles aged 15-20 years, and the snake grows up to six feet. They have docile temperaments, and corn snakes are easy reptiles to own.

Lifespan and size

Corn snakes are one of the most popular snake species kept as pets, and with good reason. They typically live in captivity for 15-20 years, making them a long-term commitment for new pet owners.

It’s common to come across corn snakes that have lived even longer.

Moving on to their size is an important factor for prospective snake owners to consider. Generally, corn snakes are medium-sized reptiles that grow between four feet and five and a half feet long when they reach adulthood. Click here to find out How Fast Do Corn Snakes Grow?

The largest recorded corn snake stretched over six feet! This makes them big enough to be impressive but still manageable when handling them. They make ideal snakes for beginners. 

Behavior and temperament

Corn snakes make excellent pets, especially for beginners. They’re known for their lovely temperament and chill behavior. Unlike some fussier species, these reptiles rarely show any signs of aggression when handled properly. Even though these snakes do have teeth, they are rarely used against their owners.

They adjust quickly to life in captivity and love to explore their environment, given the right opportunities. But don’t be fooled by their active nature during exploration; You don’t want your new corn snake to escape. An escaped snake can be difficult to find. They also appreciate a lot of downtime inside a cozy hide box, so if one does escape, check out small cavities like shoes or pots.

The Corn snake is your go-to friend if you ever wanted a pet that combines tranquility with low-level curiosity!

Common health issues

Corn snakes are generally hearty and resistant to illness, but they can sometimes succumb to certain health problems. Snakes can easily succumb to respiratory infections.

You might notice symptoms like difficulty breathing or wheezing – if you do, get your corn snake examined by a vet promptly.

Another common ailment is mouth rot or stomatitis. This infection results in swelling and redness around the mouth. Additionally, parasites such as mites and ticks can latch onto your corn snake, causing adverse effects on their health. If not checked by a vet, it could kill your snake. 

Regularly inspecting your pet for these pests is crucial. Lastly, obesity from overfeeding poses a threat; adhering strictly to an appropriate feeding schedule keeps this problem at bay, even for the largest corn snake.

Creating the Perfect Corn Snake Enclosure

Pale pinkish corn snake resting in coiled position within aspen substrate inside its enclosure.

Choosing the right enclosure, maintaining proper temperature, lighting, and humidity, and providing substrate and hiding spots are crucial for creating a comfortable habitat for your corn snake. Corn snakes, especially baby corn snakes, like to burrow. 

Want to know more about creating the perfect home for your pet? Keep reading!

Choosing the right enclosure

When creating the perfect habitat for your corn snake, it is important to give your snake the right enclosure. Consider these factors when selecting the best home for your pet:

  • Size: Corn snakes require an enclosure that allows them to stretch out fully. A tank of at least 20 gallons in volume is ideal for adult snakes, while hatchlings can be housed in smaller enclosures.
  • Material: Glass or plastic tanks with secure lids are suitable for corn snakes. Make sure the enclosure has good ventilation and is escape-proof.
  • Setup: Provide a secure hiding spot for your snake, such as a small cave or log, to make them feel safe and secure. Add branches or other climbing elements to create an enriching environment.
  • Substrate: Choose a substrate that is easy to clean and maintain, such as reptile carpet or paper towels. Avoid using substrates that can cause respiratory issues, like cedar or pine shavings.
  • Temperature and lighting: Ensure that the enclosure has a temperature gradient, with one side warmer (around 85°F) and the other cooler (around 75°F). Use a thermostat and heat mats or lamps to regulate the temperature. Provide a light source with a natural day-night cycle using a low-wattage bulb.

Remember, snakes are fairly fast growers, so even hatchling corn snakes can outgrow a small tub quickly; bare this in mind when purchasing your enclosure.

Temperature. Lighting and humidity requirements

Maintaining the right temperature, lighting, and humidity is essential for the health and well-being of your corn snake. Here are some important considerations:

  • The temperature in the enclosure should be kept between 75-85°F (24-29°C) during the day and around 70-75°F (21-24°C) at night.
  • Provide a heat source, such as an under-tank heating pad or a heat lamp, to create a warm spot in one enclosure area.
  • Use a thermostat to regulate the temperature and prevent overheating.
  • Corn snakes require a light cycle of 10-12 hours of light and 12-14 hours of darkness each day. You can achieve this by using a timer for the lights.
  • UVB lighting is not necessary for corn snakes as they are primarily nocturnal. However, ambient light during the day can help simulate their natural environment.
  • Humidity levels should be maintained between 40 – 60%. This can be achieved by misting the enclosure with water or using a reptile humidifier.
  • It is important to have a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels accurately.

Substrate and hiding spots

Providing the right substrate and hiding spots is crucial for your corn snake’s comfort and well-being. Corn snakes are naturally inquisitive but also like to hide away. Here are some important considerations:

  1. Choose an appropriate substrate for a corn snake’s enclosure, such as aspen shavings or reptile carpet. Avoid using cedar or pine substrates, as these can harm snakes.
  2. Provide multiple hiding spots throughout the enclosure. This will give your corn snake a sense of security and allow it to regulate its body temperature.
  3. Use commercially available hides or create custom ones using plastic containers or logs. Ensure that the hides have enough space for your snake to fit comfortably.
  4. Place hiding spots on both the warm and cool sides of the enclosure, as corn snakes require different temperature zones for thermoregulation.
  5. Add branches or climbing structures to the enclosure to encourage natural behavior and exercise.

Feeding and Nutrition For Your Pet Corn

Close-up view of a corn snake consuming a white mouse.

Feeding your corn snake is an important aspect of their care, and providing them with a proper diet is essential.

Corn snake diet and feeding schedule

Feeding your new pet corn snake is an important part of their care. They are carnivorous reptiles, and their diet consists primarily of small rodents. Here is a breakdown of their feeding schedule:

  1. Feed your adult corn snake every 7 – 10 days.
  2. Young snakes, known as hatchlings, should be fed every 5 – 7 days.
  3. Choose appropriately sized prey for your snake’s age and size. Prey items should be about the same width as the widest part of your snake’s body.
  4. Thaw frozen rodents before feeding them to your snake. Do not feed live prey, as it can injure your snake.
  5. Offer the prey using a pair of long feeding tongs or forceps to prevent accidental bites from mistaking your hand for food.
  6. Allow your snake ample time to consume the prey in a separate feeding enclosure, away from its regular habitat.
  7. Monitor the feeding process to ensure that your snake swallows its meal completely.
  8. Remove any uneaten prey after a reasonable amount of time (typically within 24 hours) to prevent bacterial growth.

Proper handling of prey

When feeding your corn snake, proper handling of prey is crucial. Corn snakes are carnivorous and typically eat small rodents such as mice or rats. It’s important only to offer pre-killed or frozen-thawed prey to ensure the safety of your snake. This is why they considered the perfect snake.

Live prey can potentially harm or injure your corn snake during feeding. To feed your snake, use tongs or forceps to hold the thawed rodent by its tail and gently present it to your corn snake using a slow and steady motion.

This mimics natural hunting behavior and allows the snake to properly strike and constrict its food. Always monitor the feeding process safely, ensuring your hand is clear from any potential strikes by accident.

Common feeding problems

Feeding your corn snake is essential to their care, but sometimes you may encounter common feeding problems. For example, your snake might refuse to eat or lack interest in food.

This can be concerning for new snake owners, but it’s important to remember that corn snakes are known for occasionally going off their feed, or it might take a while for your snake to adjust to its new environment. Another issue you may face is regurgitation, which occurs when a snake brings up its meal shortly after eating.

This could be due to factors such as improper prey handling or stress. Suppose you notice any feeding problems with your corn snake. In that case, it’s best to consult with a reptile veterinarian who can help diagnose the issue and provide appropriate solutions to ensure the health and well-being of your pet.

Tips for First Snake Owners

Juvenile corn snake held by a person, showcasing its vibrant colors and small size.

Handle and socialize your snake regularly to help it become comfortable with human interaction. Make sure your snake knows when you will pick it up or feed it. Don’t confuse the two.

Handling and socializing your snake

When handling and socializing your corn snake, it’s important to remember that they are generally docile and friendly. Start by gently picking them up using both hands, supporting their body from below.

Avoid grabbing or squeezing them too tightly, which can cause stress or injury. Take your time getting your snake used to being handled, and give them opportunities to explore in a controlled environment outside their enclosure.

To help your corn snake feel more comfortable with handling, try handling them for short periods at first and gradually increase the duration over time. Be patient with your snake, as they may be nervous or anxious initially.

It’s also helpful to handle them regularly to build trust between you and your pet.

Socializing with other people is another aspect of caring for a corn snake. Introduce new individuals slowly and calmly so as not to overwhelm your pet. Allow others to supervise the snake while ensuring they follow proper handling techniques.

Regular health checks and veterinary care

As a responsible corn snake owner, it’s essential to prioritize regular health checks and veterinary care for your pet. Regular check-ups with a reptile veterinarian can help ensure your snake is in good health and catch any potential issues early on.

During these visits, the vet will thoroughly examine your corn snake, checking for signs of illness or parasites. They may also provide vaccinations or recommend preventative measures to keep your pet healthy.

By staying proactive with veterinary care, you can give your corn snake the best chance at a long and happy life.

Shedding Process

Shedding is a natural and important process for corn snakes. Their skin becomes too tight as they grow, so shedding allows them to replace old skin with new skin. You may notice signs that your snake is about to shed, such as dull or cloudy eyeschanges in behavior, and loss of appetite.

During shedding, the snake’s colors may appear faded or muted. It’s important not to handle your snake during this time as its skin can be delicate and easily damaged. Provide a humid hiding place and ensure no sharp objects in the enclosure could cause injury during shedding, or your snake will not be able to shed properly.

After shedding, your corn snake will have vibrant and glossy new skin ready to show off!

Stress Signs

Corn snakes, like any other pets, can sometimes experience stress. Snake owners must be aware of the signs of stress to provide proper care and attention.

One common sign of stress is a loss of appetite. If your corn snake suddenly stops eating or shows a reduced interest in food, it may be a sign that they are feeling stressed. Another indicator is excessive hiding behavior.

If your snake spends most of its time hiding or burrowing, it could be a sign that they are not comfortable in their environment. In addition, aggressive behaviors such as hissing or striking can also indicate stress in corn snakes, as captive bred corn snakes rarely do this. 

Corn Snake Breeding Care Guide

Male and female corn snakes coiled around each other in apparent mating behavior.

Caring For Snake Eggs

Caring for snake eggs is an important part of reptile breeding. When breeding corn snakes a female corn snake lays eggs, creating the conditions for successful incubation is crucial. I carefully collect and place the eggs in an incubator set at the optimal temperature and humidity levels.

I regularly monitor the eggs during incubation to ensure they are healthy and developing properly. It’s essential to maintain consistent temperatures and humidity throughout this time.

As hatching approaches, I prepare a safe enclosure with an appropriate substrate for the baby snakes. Snakes need a warm and secure environment to transition from egg to hatchling successfully.

Corn Snake Morphs

Corn snakes are known for their incredible variety of colors and patterns, which is why they have become so popular in the world of reptile enthusiasts. These different color variations, or morphs, occur due to genetic mutations that affect the pigmentation of their scales.

With many corn snake morphs available, you can find corn snakes in vibrant hues like red, orange, yellow, and even blue! Each morph has its own unique beauty and charm, making corn snakes an excellent choice for those looking for a visually stunning pet snake.

Whether you prefer classic captive-bred corn snake patterns or more exotic variations, there’s sure to be a corn snake morph that catches your eye.

Corn Snakes Make Good Pets: Buying A Corn Snake For a Beginner

Corn snake resting comfortably within a plant coil, showcasing natural behavior and habitat.

When buying a captive bred corn snake, it is important to be aware of any legal restrictions in your area and consider ethical considerations.

Legal Restrictions to Owning a Corn Snake

Before bringing home a corn snake as a pet, it’s important to be aware of legal restrictions that may apply. While corn snakes are not generally considered dangerous or harmful, some states and municipalities have regulations in place regarding reptile ownership.

It’s essential to check with your local laws and regulations to ensure that owning a corn snake is allowed in your area. Some areas may require permits or licenses for keeping certain species of snakes, including corn snakes.

Additionally, there might be restrictions on the size or number of reptiles you can own. By familiarizing yourself with the legal requirements beforehand, you can avoid potential issues and provide a safe and comfortable environment for your pet corn snake.

Ethical Considerations

When owning a corn snake, some important ethical considerations must be remembered. One of the main considerations is ensuring that you provide your snake with appropriate care and living conditions.

This means providing them with a suitable enclosure that meets their size, temperature, humidity, and hiding spot needs. It’s also crucial to ensure you have the time and commitment to care for your snake throughout its lifespan properly; snakes often live 15-20 years in captivity.

Additionally, it’s essential to choose a snake from a reputable source that practices responsible breeding and avoids supporting the illegal trade of reptiles, following state regulations. By considering these ethical aspects, you can ensure the well-being and happiness of your pet corn snake.

Additional resources for further information and guidance

If you want to learn more about caring for corn snakes, plenty of resources are available to help you. Online forums and communities dedicated to reptile enthusiasts can provide valuable advice and support from experienced snake owners.

Reptile care books focused on corn snakes are another great resource, offering detailed information on everything from habitat setup to feeding schedules. Additionally, websites and blogs run by reputable reptile experts can offer knowledge on corn snake care and answer any additional questions.

Don’t hesitate to explore these resources as you continue your journey in caring for your pet corn snake.

Corn Snake Care

Conclusion On Are Corn Snakes Good Pets

In conclusion, corn snakes are excellent pets and easy to take care of for beginners due to their easy-going temperament and manageable care requirements. Corn snakes can live a long and fulfilling life in captivity with proper attention to habitat setup, feeding, and handling.

Whether you’re a first-time snake owner or an experienced reptile enthusiast, owning a corn snake will surely bring joy and fascination. Corn snakes are readily available from stores and breeders. So why wait? Start your journey with these amazing creatures today!

Check out this study on corn snake care by Science Direct (Source)

FAQs Corn Snake Care Guide 

1. Are corn snakes good pets for beginners?

Yes, corn snakes are often recommended as good pets for beginners due to their docile nature, relatively easy care requirements, and availability in various colors and patterns.

2. What do corn snakes eat?

Corn snakes are carnivorous and primarily eat mice or rats. Pets can be fed pre-killed or frozen-thawed rodents appropriately sized for the snake’s age and size.

3. How big do corn snakes get?

Corn snakes typically reach an average length of 4 to 6 feet when fully grown, with females usually larger than males. These Snakes are perfect first-time snakes.

4. Do corn snakes require any special housing or habitat setup?

Corn snakes usually don’t require elaborate setups; they need a suitable enclosure with proper heating and lighting systems to create a comfortable environment. They also benefit from having hiding spots, branches, and substrate materials like aspen bedding to mimic their natural habitat.

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