Corn Snake Feeding Chart: Complete List Of Food Items With Do’s And Don’ts

Snake lovers often face a dilemma deciding on the kinds of food and the amount of food they should feed their pet corn snake. Pet corn snakes are more susceptible to gain excess weight since they spend a large proportion of time within an enclosure. It is crucial, therefore, to fix a feeding schedule for them and stick to it no matter what.

This article introduces a handy corn snake feeding chart that will definitely help in clearing this confusion. Corn snakes are one of the most sought-after snakes to be kept in a human household, and their gentle behavior and spectacular color morphs are two of the biggest reasons why people love them so much. So, let;s get to know them a bit more closely!

Corn Snake Feeding Chart: Keep Your Pet Snake Healthy And Fit!

This comprehensive feeding chart should be able to guide you on maintaining a healthy diet for your beloved corn snake. Corn snakes primarily feed on rodents because they are rich in prot- teins but, as per your vet’s advice, you may feed some other food items to them occasionally.

State Of Growth Age (Months Or Years) Frequency Of Feeding (In Days) Size Of Food Nutrition
Hatchling zero to 5 months old every 5 to 7 days pinky or fuzzy mouse, lizards

(2 to 4 g)


Mainly proteins, fats, Vitamin A and D

Juvenile 6 to 18 months old every 7 to 10 days fuzzy or hopper mouse (5 to 12 g)
Pre-Adult 18 to 24 months old every 10 to 12 days large adult mouse or rat, (12 to 18 g)
Adult 2 to 4 years old (and above) every 14 to 21 days large adult mouse or rat (19 to 25 g)
Senior more than 15 years old every 10 to 14 days large adult mouse or rat (19 to 25 g)

How big should food morsels be? This is another question that many pet lovers have who have little to no experience with snakes as pets. Be it a mouse or an amphibian, make sure the portion size is not larger than 1 to 1.5 times the widest part of the snake’s body, bearing in mind that  the mid-body or the stomach part of the snake is the widest, usually. The portion size increases with the size of the corn snake. However, if you give them a food item which is larger than the required size, it may regurgitate it out which is not a pretty sight.

Many people worry while feeding them a mouse which is larger than the snake’s head. Food size could be larger than the snake’s head, there is no problem in that. Once you know more about the structure of a corn snake’s jaw and ribs, you would be amazed at the spectacle.

Their upper and lower jaws are attached with ligaments that make them expandible. The ribs are open at the front (they do not meet at the sternum as in mammals), allowing them to swallow large prey like rats, birds and bird eggs in one big gulp.

What Do Corn Snakes Eat?

What Do Corn Snakes Eat

The classic Carolina corn snakes, that have beautiful golden hues, and the other two species, Slowinski’s corn snakes, and the Great Plains rat snakes are often seen frequenting the south- eastern parts of the United States. They inhabit grasslands and open fields, edges of forests, banks of rivers, moist habitats, and even man-made structures like barns and sheds.

In the wilderness, corn snakes prey on mostly rodents like mice and rats. However, as they are semi-arboreal and love moist places too, they also choose to hunt down amphibians, birds, their eggs, lizards, and even other snakes. Cannibalism has been a part of a snake’s dietary habit for ages, and even venomous snakes do not deter them from swallowing them alive or dead.

In captivity, i.e. tanks and vivariums, corn snakes are usually fed frozen pinky and fuzzy mice. However, feeding them mice every week creates monotony. To make matters more interesting, pet keepers and breeders also choose to feed them quail birds, quail eggs, green anoles, house geckos, lizards, frogs, gerbils, and even hamsters, They are not very fond of fish though, as some may presume. Below is a chart to show the different types of frozen snake feeders.

Name Of Feeder Rodent Age Of Feeder Rodent Description

Extra Small




1 day old

2 to 5 days old

3 to 4 days old


Pinky mice are hairless





5 to 9 days old

10 to 14 days old


Fuzzy mice grow a little hair on their body

Sub-Adult Mice




14 to 19 days old

20 to 24 days old


Their eyes have opened

Large Mice


Extra large (jumbo)


25 to 30 days old

5 to 6 months old


They are old enough to make babies of their own

Do’s And Don’ts About Feeding A Pet Corn Snake

The most practical method to feed your pet corn snakes would be to use tweezers, tongs or a long steel-made stick, to present the food to the snake. Wiggle the food item slightly so as to attract the snake’s attention. While the snake has grabbed the prey, leave it alone, and close the screen or the lid of the tank. Best thing would be to back away from the tank and allow some alone time to the corn snake. The snake may constrict the prey due to innate habit.

Below is a list of some useful do’s and don’ts for you to remember while feeding a hatchling or an adult corn snake. Baby corn snakes may be a little choosy about food at the beginning, but will quickly get used to the routine.

  • Since pet snakes are usually fed frozen mice, thaw them at least one day in advance. This thawing should be done in the warmer compartments of the freezer so as to prohibit the growth of bacteria or fungus.
  • Just before feeding the rodent to the corn snake, dip the food item in a bowl containing warm water for 10 to 20 minutes. Take it out and dry it completely with paper towels. This will warm up the food a little bit making the snake feel as if it is eating a live rodent.
  • Rescued wild-type Carolina corn snakes may want to eat nothing but live rodents. If that is the case, you have no other choice but to feed it a live one instead of a frozen thawed one. A corn snake must eat regularly to maintain a good body weight and fitness.
  • Corn snakes demonstrate nocturnal feeding patterns, even in captivity. In cases where you are facing difficulty feeding hatchlings or juveniles, try feeding them in the dark hours of the day. This will mimic their natural habitat and feeding times.
  • Place a large water bowl somewhere in the tank so that the snake can slurp some water after they are done swallowing their food.
  • At times, you may experience hatchlings or even adults refusing to eat. There may be natural causes behind this, like brumation. But if that is not the reason, you may use the “transfer scent technique”. Before placing a food item in front of your snake, rub the skin of anoles, geckos or even chicken on the food item just to trigger an appetite. Tuna juice has also been used in the past and has brought positive results.
  • Use a feeding container for snakes that are fussy about eating. This technique works best for baby snakes. Place both the hatchling and the food item inside the container, and cover it with a perforated lid. This technique isolates the snake with its food thus compelling it to focus on the food, build an appetite, and finally swallow it down.
  • Refrain from offering live prey to pet corn snakes, especially to corn snake morphs that have never experienced life in the wilderness. Wild rodents may bite or scratch the snake to protect itself, which may lead to skin infections and jaw injury in the snake. Additionally, live rodents, depending on where you got it from, may spread parasites.
  • Do not put your hand inside the tank- instead, use a handling stick or tongs. Your hands may look like the body of another snake that may intimidate or aggravate your pet corn snake, thus raising the chances of it hissing at you or biting you.
  • Refrain from feeding jumbo mice to your pet corn snake as they are obese or gravid females. Corn snakes feeding on jumbo mice may be overeating.

What Nutrition Do Snakes Obtain From What They Eat?

Corn snakes in the wild may not be able to eat regularly because of habitat loss or degradation, seasonal variations, competition, or other reasons. Snakes suffering in malnutrition may not have a robust immunity to save them from diseases, like jaw injury or parasite infections that may prove to be fatal for snakes if left untreated.

Snakes are carnivorous critters and they obtain their nutrition from eating the flesh of other animals. Plant materials had never been to their liking and it would be useless to chomp on them since they are not equipped to obtain nutrients from herbs. Corn snakes are also ophio- phagous, meaning they occasionally feed on other snakes too. In captivity, they are fed food items as whole and not in pieces, because that’s how snakes obtain their nourishment.

Let’s take a look at some of the nutrients that snakes obtain from the food they eat.

Vitamin A: Corn snakes need these vitamins to keep their skin and eyes healthy, it is present as retinol in mice liver. Mice are omnivores and are capable of converting beta- carotenoids in plants into retinol. Vit-A is crucial for amelanistic and scaleless corn snakes. Deficiency of Vit-A will cause shedding and eye problems in all corn snakes.

Vitamin D

Needless to say, Vit-D is crucial for a snake’s healthy bone growth and skin. Gravid female corn snakes need extra of these vitamins since it is used to strengthen the egg-shells that contain the babies.

Frozen food may contain less Vit-D than wild prey so supplements could be given to your pet corn snake. However, an overdose could put your pet corn snake’s life at risk, so before feeding supplements to your snake, consult a trained vet, an experienced breeder, or an herpetologist.

Vitamin D-3 is another form of Vit-D which is paramount for your corn snakes. Wild corn snakes absorb these vitamins from the UV rays of the sun. However, amelanistic corn snakes, like snow or Palmettos, are sensitive to bright lights. In that case, a UVB bulb may help. A timer should be attached so that the lights switch off after the required number of hours.

Vitamin D is present in the liver and kidneys of mice that the corn snake absorbs after digesting the food item. Under no condition can Vit-D be fed in excess because that will  hinder the absorption of other nutrients into the body of the snake.


Goes without saying that the presence of a water bowl in the vivarium gives the pet corn snake a lot of relief. Corn snakes use the water bowls to splash around, to molt properly, and to wash down after eating. Scaleless, amels and anery corn snakes need water more than ever to protect their body from overheating.

How Do They Hunt And Swallow Food Whole?

How Do They Hunt And Swallow Food Whole

Corn snakes are non-venomous snakes that belong to the large family named Colubridae. They do not possess any venom sac or large fangs inside their mouth to channel and inject venom into the tissues of the victim. So, how do they subdue large prey in the wild?

Corn snakes use a method called “constriction”. They use their aglyphous teeth to get hold of the prey. While they do that, they coil around the body of the prey slowly squeezing it to fatality. The prey animal loses its life due to inability to breathe or cardiac arrest.

Corn snakes are often mistaken for the venomous coral snakes and copperheads because all three share similar colors on their body– red, yellow (or white) and black. At times, corn snakes use this resemblance to their benefit. They often mimic venomous snakes to intimidate prey or predators, thus earning themselves a nutritious meal or adding more days to their lifespan.

What Are The Consequences Of Over Or Under Eating?

Consequences Of Over Or Under Eating

Gaining excess weight is an issue that is often observed in cases of captive-bred corn snakes. Snakes may overeat and may not be aware of it, therefore it is the pet-keeper or breeder’s responsibility to stick to the feeding chart. Wild corn snakes may be at the risk of malnutrition since they have to battle for food on a regular basis. However, captive corn snakes could refuse to eat for a long time for different reasons and may suffer a similar health crisis.

Signs Of An Overweight And Underweight Corn Snake

There are physical symptoms of obesity and malnutrition. Some tell-tale symptoms of obesity may include wrinkles or folds on their skin when they uncoil themselves. These creases appear due to the increase of fat layers under their skin. Also, look for any bulge above their tail-region. If you notice they have grown “hips”, it could be a sign of obesity. However, folds or creases could also appear due to dehydration, so sometimes it is best to consult a vet for a clearer insight.

In cases of underweight snakes, look for soft or squishy belly regions. If your fingers press in effortlessly into their stomach tissues, it may be a sign that they have not eaten for months. You may also be able to pinch out extra skin at their flanks. Nevertheless, while checking for malnourishment or obesity, ensure you do not poke or prod the snake too much.

Causes Of Corn Snakes Overeating Or Undereating

Frequency of feeding and the size of food items must be carefully planned by means of a feeding chart. For an instance, adult corn snakes must be fed a large mouse or rat only once every 14 to 21 days. They may show interest to eat more between this time period but the schedule must be strictly maintained. Not giving up to the whims of your pet snake would be the wisest thing to do, though the parent in you might tell you otherwise.

As far as eating too little is concerned, there might be a number of reasons. Diseases and discomfort are by far the two biggest reasons for your pet corn snake not looking forward to the next meal. Inadequate temperature and humidity conditions within the tank may give rise to respiratory and external-body infections. Skin parasites may develop or they may also suffer reproductive issues.

Oftentimes, stress plays a major role in the development of many mental and physical condi- tions in the pet corn snake. Being handled way too frequently and always being surrounded by people or other animals may stress the snake way out of limits. Also, keeping the tank near a place which is emitting fumes or bad odor and ignoring to clean the tank regularly also contribute largely to your pet corn snake not waiting to eat.

Remedies Of Corn Snakes Overeating Or Undereating

Certain remedies have already been discussed in the previous segments for corn snakes suffering an alarmingly low appetite. One of the best solutions is to keep pet corn snakes away from overcrowded or noisy places, and give them a lot of “me” time. Also, give your pet corn snake plenty of hiding places inside the tank, like caves or a thick substrate.

Some pet-keepers have advised switching the company you buy frozen feeders from. Your snake may have gotten frustrated eating the same kind of meal every week– make it interesting by offering them quail eggs for a change. You may like to try ground food packed in collagen casings. You may need to keep experimenting with the feeding chart to get the best results.

Fixing problems of overeating is much easier in comparison. Yes, you got it– fix a schedule and stick to it. Also, make your snake move around as much as possible. Take them out into the sunshine whenever you get the time, and give them plants and caves inside the terrarium to explore and have fun with.

Weighing them regularly really helps. Usually, when corn snakes weigh over 800g, you would need to seriously watch their eating habits. In such cases, just one large adult mouse or rat is fed to them every 28 to 35 days  If the corn snake is underweight, the same could be fed to them every 10 to 14 days.


At times sticking to just rodents does the trick, but at other times more magic needs to be added in the feeding chart to keep your pet corn snake healthy and content.

Q: What happens if I feed live prey to my pet corn snake?

Ans: Live prey will try to defend itself and scratch or bite your pet corn snake. Skin infections and mouth-rotting spread rapidly in snakes and prove to be fatal in certain cases. However, the wild-type corn snakes may want to eat only live rodents. You need to adjust as per their needs and choices.

Q: How long can a corn snake go without food?

Ans: A corn snake may survive without food for weeks or months. In captivity, they will do better because there are no risks of predation and no requirement for moving from place to place looking for food. They do not eat or drink for 2-3 months during brumation, for instance.

Q: Can corn snakes eat fruits or veggies?

Ans: No, corn snakes, like other snakes, are strictly carnivorous. Raw chicken or bird eggs could be fed, but rodents are usually what snakes seek. They will not be able to digest plants.

Q: How to feed a corn snake?

Ans: Use tweezers or forceps to handle food instead of using bare hands. Wash hands every time between each feeding and handling session. Do not touch the snake while or after feeding.

Q: How do I know if my corn snake is having feeding issues?

Ans: Some symptoms are clearly visible. If your corn snake regurgitates, for example, it may mean it is feeling uncomfortable, sick or the food is too big to be swallowed. If you notice blisters around its mouth, it may be suffering from mouth-rot disease. Check the feces color as well. It is usually brown or black having a thick consistency. If you find it too runny or the snake has not pooped in a long while, you may consider taking it to a vet.


Corn snakes need to be fed at regular time periods to ensure it stays healthy and fit. For that, a corn snake feeding chart is crucial. It will be wise for beginner corn snake keepers to stick to this chart to avoid health issues like stomach poisoning or obesity.

Corn snakes are gentle, non-venomous critters that have several colorful morphs. They are usually not fussy and can adapt well to normal temperatures and humidity. For these reasons, they are quite popular as pets all over the world.

Hello snake lovers! I’m David Mifsud and Snake Insider is my latest project with a vision of spreading reptile awareness to every single netizen. I’ll be introducing some of the most unexplored territories in the world of snakes to broaden the horizon of knowledge for the readers. My personal motto is to get as close to the snakes in nature without disrupting the balance and gather information as well as habitation patterns. It can be later on utilized in order to build a safe and healthy environment for every species of snakes. So stick around with us and I’m sure we won’t disappoint you!

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