Corn snakes are a very commonly kept pet snake originally from the southern states in the USA. They were given their name because they were commonly found hunting mice in corn stores. They are considered harmless to humans and have a very important role in controlling rodent populations particularly around farms.
Corn snakes are probably the most popular pet snake in the UK and have been kept and bred for decades. Originally they were red/orange and brown but they have since been selectively bred for a range of pattern and colour combinations. While they can get quite long they remain slim and easy to handle. They generally have a very passive attitude making them a great choice for first time keepers.
The natural corn snake habitat consists of overgrown fields, the edges of a forest, flat plains with burrows or disused building (particularly barns and farm houses).
Baby corn snakes can easily live in a plastic vivarium the size of a large shoebox for the first few months of their lives. Adult corn snakes need accommodation of at least 3ft long, but if you can offer bigger then that would be prefrable. Snakes are not social animals, so cage mates can be quite stressful. Many have had success in keeping groups of females together or groups of males together, but it isn’t always recommended. Different snakes can grow at different rates and if one snake does not grow quite as fast as the others then it is possible that others will see it as a tasty meal. Housing male and female pairs together should only be done during breeding season and they should then be separated. If left together, the male will pester the female and she can become almost constantly gravid (pregnant), this can drastically reduce the females life expectancy and can cause a wide range of veterinary problems. All snakes are escape artists, so make sure the cage is absolutely escape proof. Climbing branches may be appreciated, but a couple of dark, tight hides are essential to help the snake feel secure.
Lighting and Heating
No special UV lighting is required as they do not require UVB to use the calcium in their diet like other reptiles but it is still a beneficial addition to the enclosure. Be careful to avoid direct sunlight shining through a window into the vivarium as this can have an adverse effect to the controlled temperature and could quickly become lethal.
We generally recommend a Zoo Med 5.0 / 13watt UVB screw in bulb. The UV bulb should be mounted to the ceiling at the back of the enclosure to provide a light gradient running parallel to the temperature gradient. There will be times when the snake will want less or no UVB so partial and full hiding spots should be placed all along the width of the enclosure. These bulbs give of off little or no heat so there is minimal chance of the snake burning itself.
Provide a temperature gradient with a light, or under tank heat pad. On the warm end 85 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect, and room temperatures (low 70s) are fine for the cool end. One long, skinny hide, such as a hollow log or PVC pipe, can be placed so one end of the hide is cool and one end is warm. Be sure to check the temperature inside the warm end of the hide — not on the glass. Temperatures can vary quite a bit within just a few inches, so thermometer and hide box placement is important. In the wild Corn Snakes would still have a certain amount of heat radiated by rocks and roadways that have absorbed the heat throughout the day so it would be advisable but not necessary to maintain some warmth for them during the night but still keeping it in darkness for the snakes day and night cycle.
Misting the enclosure often causes fungus and mould. If the corn snake sheds its skin in pieces, increase humidity inside the hide box by adding a clump of damp moss or paper towel whenever the snake prepares to shed. Remove this damp filler in between sheds to avoid build up of bacteria, mould etc.
The primary natural food of corn snakes is rodents. Some baby corn snakes also eat lizards or an occasional frog. Adult corn snakes may eat birds or their eggs. DO NOT offer crickets etc because corn snakes don’t recognize them as food. Hatchlings normally eat pinkie mice, as they grow then so does their prey size, it will increase to a jumbo mouse for a large adult corn snake. Placing your corn snake and a thawed mouse in an empty container with a few air holes and closing the lid will help the snake concentrate on the food, and encourage it to eat. Be sure the lid is on tightly, and don’t put it near a heat source, or you risk overheating the snake. Feed baby corn snakes once every five to seven days, and feed adult corn snakes once every seven to 10 days.
Hatchling corn snakes can be nervous and defensive. Although it is normal for baby corn snakes to flee, hide or defend themselves, it is also true that they have no real ability to harm you. A white mouse or a cat that plays too roughly with its owner can do far more damage than even the largest corn snake.
It is important to give a new corn snake a few weeks to settle into its new home and into a regular feeding routine before stressing it with unnecessary handling. After three or four successful meals, start handling your corn snake for short periods, except for the first two to three days after a meal. Be sure to approach the corn snake from the side rather than the top like a predator would do. Lift it up gently but with confidence. Hesitation scares the corn snake, and makes it likely to hide or bite. Once the corn snake begins to realize that you are not going to eat it, and also that it needs to calm down to regain the security of its quiet cage, it will usually tame quickly and become very used to handling. Handling should be gentle and the snake should be allowed to slither through your fingers, your snake could get a bit annoyed if you throw it around and man-handle it, so just be nice!
Corn snakes thrive in a low humidity environment with hard decorations to climb over and bask on. When selecting a bedding we try to ensure that the pieces are unlikely to increase the enclosures humidity. We normally use a coarse beech woodchip as it is clean, cheap, easy to spot clean and dust free. If you prefer a more natural looking decoration a soil / clay mix would be perfect. If you plan to keep the snake in a bio-active enclosure a nutrient rich soil and clay mix with some sand for aeration would be perfect.
Corn snakes love the warmth coming from their basking lamp but they also appreciate secondary belly heat which will radiate from warm objects. Natural rocks like slate are perfect for this, so are heavy artificial ornaments. These decorations can be placed under and around the basking area and should warm up nicely. If the lamp is too low there is a chance that natural rocks could get too hot so you are best to check the surface temperature to avoid burns.
Adding a canopy to your enclosure using hollow bark and trailing artificial plants can look effective and your snake would benefit from the seclusion.
Rons Pet Supplies
Ron’s Pets encourages and promotes good husbandry, it is essential that you have the right environment for your pet and that you seek the knowledge needed to look after any animal you keep.
We strongly recommend you keep a log of your pets habits so you can track its health and wellbeing.
If you need any further information please feel free to ask any member of our team.
We reserve the right to refuse a sale of any of our livestock if we feel there could be a chance that it will not be going to a place that may not reach a specific standard.