The Corn Snake Care Guide

corn snake care guide

Corn snakes are one of the most popular pet snakes and a great beginner snake for kids and adults. The corn snake comes in all sorts of morphs, which are different patterns and colours. And they are also typically docile, easy feeders, and easy to care for.

In this article, we will provide an easy-to-follow corn snake care guide.

Why Corn Snakes?

Corn snakes are great beginner snakes and for good reason. Their ease of care, availability, and size makes them a popular choice. Most corn snakes are also docile, allowing them to be handled by most.

They are also inexpensive. Some morphs can be bought for just £30, though their costs can go much higher at £200, especially for scaleless corn snakes.

Corn snakes are also good feeders. Many will not resume a feed even if conditions aren’t 100% perfect, unlike the other most commonly kept species, the ball python.

If a corn snake doesn’t feed, it is usually because the snake is about to shed or gravid.

Corn Snake Housing

Here is the information you need about corn snake enclosures.

Which Enclosure to Use?

There are four types of housing that snake keepers can use for corn snakes.

Wooden vivariums are some of the most popular, these have glass at the front that slides open. These allow for access at the best point for snakes and are better for maintenance and feeding routines. They are also good for keeping environments steady, especially compared to glass.

There is a plastic version, known as a terrarium, but these are only suitable for babies as the corn snake will quickly outgrow a purpose built enclosure.

There are glass terrariums too. While they do make them large enough, glass is fragile. In addition, glass is a poor insulator and much heat is lost from the enclosure. Finally, snakes have been shown to dislike the sensation of glass, so they may display stress signals if they move their substrate too much and they’re forced to move on glass.

In addition, aquariums have been known to be used. However, these are top openings, which can scare some snakes and make maintenance more challenging. It can also be more challenging to find good fittings and secure the top, which would allow the corn snake to escape.

A final option is the RUB. These are low-cost options that have numerous benefits. You can read how to build a DIY RUB system for snakes. RUBs are easy to maintain and offer good environmental controls.

Whatever enclosure you use, ensure that it is the right size for your snake. The snake should be allowed to fully stretch along two sides of the enclosure. However, more space is often preferred. Though it is important to note that some snakes might not feed in enclosures that are too big.

Consider using a series of RUBs if you’re buying a baby corn snake and upgrading as it gets bigger. Before reaching adult size, you can always move the snake into the final wooden vivarium.

Enclosure Substrate

There are numerous substrates that you can use within a corn snake enclosure. Paper towels make an effective substrate because they are absorbent, easy to clean, and cost-effective. However, they don’t provide a natural look.

Though there are other options you can use, like lignocel and Aspen. Most keepers use these, though you might want to use a soil substrate. Just ensure that your soil substrate is free from any chemicals. These are harder to maintain, but offer better aesthetics and are more natural.

Heating Your House Snake Enclosure

Heating your enclosure can be done either through a heat mat or an overhead heat projector. Either of these heating systems would need to be connected to a thermostat which is set to 32-34 Celsius. The cool end of the enclosure should be about 24 Celsius. This is easier maintained with an overhead heat projector.

When using a heat mat, be sure that the snake cannot come into direct contact with the heat. You can use a slate of rock or a sheet of glass to achieve this with ease. Otherwise, the snake might burn itself when in direct contact.

The thermostat probe needs to be added directly to the spot where the heat should be. This could be on top of the heat mat or under the overhead heat source.

Any overhead heat source should also be encased in a guard. These are easy to install and protect the snake from wrapping themselves around the heat source and burning themselves.

Enclosure Lighting

Corn snakes do not require UV light, especially snakes like corn snakes which are crepuscular, which means that they are active at dawn and dusk.

That doesn’t mean that there is no benefit to UV light. About 8-10 hours a day of UV light can offer some benefits. UV light that is at 2-5% should be sufficient to provide enough to your snake. This will need to be replaced every six months to maintain the effectiveness of the UV light.

Enclosure Essentials

All snake enclosures need to have some specific elements to ensure that they are healthy. These items include:

* Two hides (one at the warm side, one at the cold end)

* A water bowl that is large enough for them to soak in.

* A moist hide for shedding.

* Decorations and enrichment (leaves, plants, cork bark, etc.)

Feeding Your Corn Snake

The main prey that you will feed your corn snake will be frozen-thawed mice and rats. You can buy these online from many suppliers. You can bulk buy them for better prices.

Baby snakes are fed a small pinkie every five days. As they grow their size increases and they will be fed only every 7 days.

The size of the prey should be about 1.5 times the thickest part of the snake. This ensures they can swallow and digest the prey item.

After feeding your snake, do not handle them for 48 hours, to allow them to digest the food. And you should always feed your corn snake inside its enclosure. Feeding them in their home reduces stress and makes it easier to feed them.

There is a whole article on how to feed corn snakes and problems you might have with a snake not eating.

Handling Your House Snake

Corn snakes are a good option for handling, though they can be fast. Most are docile but can go through what we call a ‘temperamental stage’ which is at about 9-18 months of age. During this period, they can become a little more defensive, but they do grow out of it.

When young adults, they seem to enjoy handling experiences and exploring.

Always scoop up your snake from at least a third down the body, and not near the head. Trying to hold it near the head might induce a fear response from the snake. Then allow the snake to move in your hands, moving from one hand to another.

Corn snakes will often not pay attention to their owners. If they look at you with an S-shaped neck, this is a sign to put them back into their enclosure. Often this means that they don’t want to be handled, normally because they are shedding, which is a stressful process for them.

If a snake is looking around the environment you’re in, this is a relaxed snake.

Snake handling should be kept to about 15 minutes per day.

Shedding

Corn snakes, like all other snakes, will shed their outer layer of scales. This is so they can grow a fresh outer layer. The first sign of a shed is the eyes going cloudy and the body looking duller. This will last about 2-3 days, then they will shed their skin.

The shed should come off in one piece, though sometimes they will need help.

Regular Maintenance

You will need to regularly maintain your corn snake’s enclosure. Here is a list of tasks that should be done regularly.

Daily:

  • Check snake is in the enclosure
  • Refresh water
  • Check for poop and urate
  • Clean as necessary

Weekly

  • A weekly feed of the corn snake
  • Health check, which can include a weighing session

Monthly

  • Complete refresh of the enclosure, using reptile cleaner

Corn Snake Pet Care

Corn snakes make excellent pets for both young and older reptile keepers. They are generally a friendly species and very responsive to their owners. Many will come out and see you when you enter a room or look into checking on them.

While their care is not particularly challenging, you will be required to meet certain requirements for their comfort and health. Above is the simple corn snake setup and care you need for this species.

If you would like to find out more about keeping corn snakes you can contact us on 01255 775 876 or 07837090000. You can join our mailing list or follow us on Facebook.

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