Corn Snake Care Complete Guide

Corn Snake Care: How To Provide Tender Loving Care To Your Pet Corn Snake!

A corn snake in the wild has to battle regularly with predators and food crises, including habitat loss, changing weather patterns, and diseases. They have to overcome all these adversaries in order to see the light of day. It is a tough life out there for a typical wild-type corn snake.

However, if a wild corn snake is fortunate enough to be rescued by a loving human caretaker, it can thrive for longer than 20 years! Good corn snake care at home or even at a pet store could go a long way. In this article we will learn all about taking care of a pet corn snake.

Corn Snake Temperature: Crucial Factor For Ectotherms

Temperature is one of the most important factors to maintain while setting up a corn snake terrarium. Snakes are ectotherms meaning they need to adjust their body temperature based on the fluctuations in temperature in the external environment, something that humans and other mammals do not need to do. Temperature is paramount when corn snakes molt or breed.

All corn snake terrariums must have a basking spot and a cooling spot. The basking side, which is the warmer side, must be maintained between 88 and 92°F, while the cooling area should be between 75 and 82°F. The snake will move to and from, whenever needed, to thermoregulate. At night, all heating mechanisms could be switched off so that the temperature can fall down lower than 75°F which is okay, however pet-keepers should ensure that heat-level does not fall below 68°F under any situation.

Heating in a corn snake terrarium could be sustained using different mechanisms. Let’s get acquainted with a few so that you can make the best decision for your corn snake care.

Ideal Heating Lamp Can Control Temperature

Heating Lamp

Plastic terrariums often come with overhead heating lamps. The heating lamps have receptacles or hoods attached to them that absorb excess heat and minimize chances of overheating and a resulting fire. The hood and the wattage of the bulb in question must match, for example, a hood that is meant for a 100W bulb must not be used for a 200W bulb.

These heating lamps must not be placed very close to the terrarium walls and care must be taken to ensure that there is no flammable material close to the bulb. They must be switched off at certain intervals throughout the day so as to prevent overheating. Some pet-keepers prefer using high wattage bulbs and regulate them using rheostats. They can be used to measure and control the temperature at any given moment in time.

For glass terrariums, heating lamps are the best choice because using under-tank heating pads tends to make the glass terrarium extremely hot at times. To measure temperatures in a glass tank, two thermometers could be utilized. One could be placed at the basking zone, while the other could be positioned somewhere near the cooling area.

Plastic Heating Pad

Heating Pad

Heating pads or mats are placed under the tank and are usually not used for heating glass tanks because they tend to overheat the tank, and the tank may even crack at certain places. They are best for plastic terrariums. Heating pads should be placed at the basking zone and should be kept affixed there so that the snake can be sure that this is where it needs to go to warm itself up. Changing the position of the heating pad will confuse the snake.

Heat transfers uniformly across the heating pad or mat, slowly passing the heat onto the interiors of the tank. It heats the reptile from its belly up since it is positioned at the bottom of the terrarium. The heating pads of mats come with adhesives or tapes to stick it under the tank. They are quite durable, energy-efficient, and also water-proof.

Heating Tape

Heating tapes have gathered a lot of popularity lately. They come in rolled-up cases, made of copper sides and heating elements in the middle. The heating elements could be cut into smaller pieces and taped around the tank, and are really good for large tanks. They are usually not used to glass tanks, but are great for plastic and wooden ones. Once installed, the copper bars conduct electricity and heat the tape up. A thermostat is needed for this.

Rock Heater

They look like rocks but could be plugged in to provide heat to the interior of the tank. They act as decorative pieces too, and are placed inside the tank. They are quite easy to clean and are energy-saving. They act like natural rocks and stones that heat up during the day-time and retain heat for several hours even after the sun goes down.

Ceramic Heat Emitter

They look like bulbs with the topside bearing a coiled look. They are usually available in 100W packs and can provide heating for up to 10,000 hours overall. One of the best features of these ceramic heat emitters is that they do not emit any light so does not disturb the sleep cycle of corn snakes in any way. They are made up of ceramic and tend to overheat so should be kept at a safe distance from flammable materials.

Corn Snake Humidity: The Need For Moisture In A Reptilian Life

Humidity is another pivotal factor in maintaining a caring and loving habitat for your pet corn snake and must not be ignored by any means. Lack of proper hydration may cause the snake to suffer various respiratory illnesses and skin diseases. There are numerous ways by which a proper moisture level can be maintained within a reptile terrarium. Let’s learn more about them.

Water Bowl Can Reduce Humidity

Water Bowl

A very easy and cost-effective way to introduce moisture within your corn snake enclosure is to place a large water bowl inside the tank. It should be kept in the cooling spot of the vivarium so that the snake finds the cooling spot as a retreat– a place to relax and hide. Plastic, ceramic or porcelain cups or bowls are usually used as water bowls.

The water bowl should be large and deep enough for the snake to submerge its whole body in. However, you need to make sure that the snake does not drown in the water. The water bowl therefore should not be deeper than 2 to 3 inches. The pet-keeper must also ensure that the bowl is bottom heavy and does not contain rough edges.

The water-bowl should be cleaned at least once a week. Debris, like fecal matters or leaves, could be filtered out on a daily basis because snakes usually do not drink water from a bowl where they have defecated. Also, make sure the water bowl is not placed over a heating pad (or mat) because then the water will evaporate faster and add excess humidity in the tank.

The water to be provided should be freshwater, and should not have anything mixed with it. In the wild, corn snakes drink from streams, ponds and rivers which are all freshwater bodies. Therefore, under no circumstance, could they be provided hard water. If your tap water does not contain high levels of calcium, chlorine or fluorine, then you may serve some to your pet corn snake. However, bottled or filtered water is the best. They are available in pet stores too.

Other Ways

Automatic misters, manual spray-bottles, wet sphagnum moss, and leaf litter are alternative ways of adding moisture to a reptilian tank. Humidifiers within terrariums could now be remote-controlled using wifi. A spray duration could be fixed which could range anywhere between 1 second to 30 minutes and could prove to be very useful if regulated wisely.

Humidity Checker

Humidity level within a corn snake vivarium should be between 65 and 75%, and can be measured with the help of a hygrometer. The cool end of the terrarium is where humidity should be higher because it tends to get dry there.

Corn Snake Terrariums: Types And Sizes

Corn snakes live in varieties of habitats in the wild as such they are quite versatile. They could be spotted wriggling around in grasslands, forest edges, and banks of rivers, as well as near human-made establishments such as barns and sheds. Pet keepers try their level best to make the terrariums of corn snakes close to looking and feeling like the snake’s natural habitat.

Terrariums or tanks could be made by different types of materials. Nowadays, glass, plastic and wood are the materials that tanks are usually made out of. All three types of tanks look gorgeous and are highly effective in functionality. However, reptile lovers like to think twice, make comparisons, weigh out the advantages and disadvantages, before buying one.

Glass Terrariums

Glass Terrarium

These terrariums look supercool with reflective surfaces and they match any kind of home decor, no matter what the color theme is. They are excellent insulators of heat,and also retain a lot of moisture within the enclosure. They come with screened lids that allow venti- lation. The snakes can see what is going on around in the world outside the terrarium.

However, snakes also get intimidated when they catch their reflection on the glass walls. They mistake their reflection to be other snakes and get stressed out. Not only that, glass surfaces offer them zero privacy, unless the sides are boarded or blacked out. The screened lids allow loss of heat and moisture. Heating glass terrariums also turns into a headache– under-tank heating pads or overhead lamps may turn the glass surface too hot.

Plastic Terrarium

They are much cheaper than glass terrariums and weigh much less. One of the biggest advantages of getting a plastic tank for your pet corn snakes is that they can be heated and humidified very easily using under-tank and overhead heating and moisture-adding mechanisms. Sometimes, plastic tanks come with in-built lighting gadgets too. They do not have screened lids so moisture and heat can be retained more effectively. Like glass vivariums, plastic ones are also quite easy to clean with just a disinfectant and a piece of clothing.

However, plastic tanks may accumulate micro-abrasions over time that may make the surfaces hazy after a year of usage. Also, getting different sizes of plastic tanks may be a little hard. At times, plastic terrariums come with large ventilation holes that could be the escape route of certain adventurous specimens of corn snakes. Besides, drilling holes and looking to customize plastic tanks are just as difficult as doing it with glass tanks.

Wooden Terrarium

Vivariums made of wood, on the other hand, can be drilled holes into, can be stacked and customized in several possible ways. They usually come in DIY assemble-sets where the pet- keeper has the privilege of assembling and expanding the terrariums in any way he wants to. They are sturdier than glass terrariums and can be painted too. They offer snakes maximum privacy being opaque and are excellent for scaleless and amelanistic corn snakes. They are also quite efficient at retaining heat and humidity.

However, they are best for being used in colder climates than warmer ones. They may or may not come with ventilation mechanisms, but they tend to retain too much heat and moisture and thus affect the interior habitat of corn snakes. With time, excess moisture tends to corrode the sides and edges of wooden terrariums. Also, they are quite difficult to clean.


Size of terrarium would depend on the size of the corn snake. Hatchlings usually require a 10 or 20 gallon tank, and two or more hatchlings could be placed together. Some pet-keepers use shoeboxes to house the cute little babies. For juveniles and adults, however, a 30 to 40 gallon terrarium would be a requirement. In the case of adults, two or three cannot be placed together in one single vivarium. One corn snake can be housed in one terrarium.

Corn Snake Terrarium Decoration: Welcome The Corn Snake Home!

There are some awesome looking terrariums out there made to look as if there is a little piece of farmland or a forest in there. You can make your corn snake vivarium look just as cool by making use of some decorative items like climber plants, caves, hollowed out logs of wood, hide boxes or drip trays, all around the cave, especially in the cool zone, for the snake to feel at home. Tall tree branches could serve as basking areas for the snakes to coil around.

The substrate should be organic and thick, because corn snakes often burrow inside the soil to hide from the daily hustle and bustle. Aspen shavings and/or cypress mulch are always a go-to when it comes to substrate material choice. Orchid bark is also a popular choice though it is a bit on the costlier side. Cedar and pine shavings should be avoided.

Corn Snake Lighting: For Maximum Health And Fitness

Corn Snake Lighting

Lighting is not absolutely necessary in a corn snake terrarium but installing them, especially if you are living in a cold country where it is almost always dark out, helps the corn snakes to thrive. They do not need UV lights on a daily basis so fluorescent bulbs, that emit small portions of UV, should be enough for corn snakes.

Corn snakes are crepuscular which means they wriggle out of their leafy habitats or hiding spots after the sun sets, to actively forage and explore. Daytime is when they remain inactive and stay hidden. For this reason, 12 hours of lighting could be provided in a terrarium, while the remaining 12 hours could be dark.

You can also take your corn snakes out in the sunlight sometimes for its UV light intake. However, certain amelanistic corn snakes may be sensitive to bright light so you might want to be careful about that. This is mainly because their body does not have adequate amounts of the pigment melanin. Even their eyes could appear pink or red.

Corn Snake Feeding: A Good Eating Schedule Goes A Long Way

Feeding corn snakes is quite convenient for beginner corn snake pet keepers or breeders. They are not fussy about eating at all, except if they are unwell. They primarily feed on rodents like mice and rats, but they also feed on squirrels, lizards, birds, bird eggs and amphibians. In captivity they eat frozen thawed pinky and fuzzy mice mostly. They could also be fed quail or chicken birds, their eggs, green anoles, or house geckos.

The food piece should be 1.5 times the widest part of the snake’s body. If the food item is too large, they may regurgitate or refuse to eat to begin with. Many pet-keepers try to add variety in order to encourage corn snakes to eat. Captive-bred corn snakes have the tendency to overeat so they should not be fed outside the feeding schedule.

Corn Snake Breeding: How To Make The Mama Corn Feel Comfy!

Corn Snake Breeding

Corn snakes breed during spring and lay eggs in summer. Before they can breed, they retire for 2 to 3 months for a winter brumation and during this time they molt into a fresh new body. They do this both in the wilderness and in captivity. Before they go for brumation, corn snakes feed a little more than usual since molting takes up a lot of their body energy.

For this formation to be carried out successfully, the temperature needs to be maintained between 65 and 70°F. However, the temperature needs to be lowered to as low as 50°F as time progresses. As soon as the females have molted after brumation, they are ready to breed. They release pheromones during this time that helps attract males.

20 to 30 days after copulation, the gravid female will shed her skin again for one last time before laying her eggs. For the females to lay eggs, a large plastic box or bucket could be given to her where she can coil comfortably and lay her eggs. The box must be placed in a cool and dark place where there is no crowd or noise. The box can be filled up with sphagnum moss to retain heat and moisture. She should be fed 2 to 3 hours after she has laid her eggs.

Eggs in captivity are hatched using incubators that need to be kept at a temperature fluctuating between 76 and 86°F. The substrate used in the egg-box should be fully organic. Some breeders bury one-third of the eggs inside the substrate and cover the box with a perforated lid. The baby snakes will poke their snout through the egg shells after 50 to 55 days.

Placement Of A Corn Snake Tank: Ensure A Peaceful Habitat

This point is often ignored by first-time corn snake breeders or caretakers. Make sure that you have not placed the corn snake terrarium close to a kitchen or a place that emits a lot of fumes. The smell may seem delicious to you but may prove to be absolutely toxic to snakes. Smell of burnt teflon from cookware or even the smell of air fresheners may be disturbing to snakes.

Also, try to keep the snake tank in a place which is not very crowded. Children trespassing or other house animals, like cats or dogs, should not be hanging around the tank frequently. This really stresses corn snakes out since they are quite shy and secretive by nature. They do not loathe human attention but do not crave it as much as our furry mammal friends do. Lighting candles and smoking near a snake vivarium must also be avoided.

Corn Snake Diseases: Symptoms And Medical Care

One of the most essential features in a corn snake tank is a water bowl. It should be large enough for the snake to submerge its whole body into, drink from, and even hide within. Corn snakes need the water bowl more than ever when they are molting or shedding their skin. If they have not shed properly, you will find small pieces of white skin stuck to their body or eye region. If not removed, this will eventually lead to skin infection or even blindness.

Snakes with skin infection or skin parasites will often be spotted rubbing their body against the rough surfaces within the terrarium that will worsen the infection even further. Another common disease that corn snakes suffer is mouth rot. This happens when they are fed live rodents. Rod- ents may scratch or bite on their snout, which if left untreated, could lead to festering blisters and rotting skin.

Incorrect humidity and temperature leads to several respiratory diseases in snakes. Symptoms include discharge from the nostrils, redness around the nose and snout, decreased appetite and a resulting weight loss, among other signs. Whenever your pet corn snake will show signs of ill- ness, try your best to tweak the internal environment of the tank as much as possible. But if that does not bring any improvement, do not linger and visit an experienced vet immediately.


A first-time snake keeper might panic once a new corn snake has been brought home. He or she may have hundreds of questions. These FAQs may help.

Q: How long do corn snakes live?

Ans: In the wild, corn snakes may live for 6 to 8 years. However, in captivity, provided they are taken care of well, they can thrive for longer than 20 years.

Q: What will happen to my corn snake if it gets too hot?

Ans: If your corn snake gets too hot due to temperature control going haywire, it will soak itself in water to cool itself off. But if the temperature does not get lower soon, it may suffer neurological damage.

Q: Can multiple corn snakes be kept in one enclosure?

Ans: Hatchlings could be kept in a single enclosure. However, since adult corn snakes have ophiophagous tendencies, and they usually tend to be quite competitive, they should be kept in separate enclosures.


Corn snakes are hardy creatures. They can survive in different kinds of habitats all over the United States. However, the morphs that are produced by using cross breeding techniques are raised indoors completely, and barely ever let out. As such, care should be taken to raise the morphs to adulthood. That’s where knowledge on corn snake care becomes handy.

In captivity, they can survive for around 15 to 20 years, or sometimes even longer. They are a life-time commitment, a properly equipped enclosure means the world to a corn snake. They are incredible animals that deserve a loving home and should be cherished wholeheartedly.

Hi dear readers! This is Rebecca, the lead analyst and blog writer for Snake Insider. Following in the footsteps of David’s guided path, I feel highly encouraged to make the most interesting snake-facts to a mass audience! In due time, I believe we’ll be able to present some jaw-dropping insight on snakes that’s sure to leave you begging for more! Personally, I’m a strongly motivated person to explore the most extreme environments should my work demand it. In many cases, I’ve ventured deep into territories that were never considered certain snake habitats and brought back necessary information. Rest assured I’ll surely be sharing them with you over the course of time.

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