How Can Corn Snakes Go Without Eating

How Long Can A Corn Snake Go Without Eating: They Are One Strong Critter!

Corn snakes are creatures with lovely colors found in the wilderness of certain regions of the United States. However, corn snakes have thousands of colorful morphs that can be found all over the world. Their docile nature makes them beloved as pets. But before adopting one, people usually ask “How long can a corn snake go without eating?”

Knowing fully about their feeding behavior will help you to understand them better and thus provide them an environment that will allow them to thrive. As a starter, you should be relieved to know that corn snakes, especially the wild ones, are highly adaptive and can live almost everywhere, surviving on opportunistic eating habits. Let’s slither into the den and find out what the snakes have (or not) in their menu today!

How Long Can A Corn Snake Go Without Eating?

Corn snakes can stay without food for about 3 months! They refuse to eat anything during the molting process and when they are undergoing brumation. Molting takes about 2 weeks to complete, whereas brumation may continue for 2 to 3 months at a stretch.

Corn snakes, like all other snakes, shed their old skin periodically. Younger snakes shed more frequently than older snakes. Baby and juvenile corn snakes may be seen molting twice every month, whereas the adult ones may molt 3 to 4 times every year. The other name for shedding is called “ecdysis” and corn snakes do this to grow in size, and it also helps them to get rid of parasites and other forms of infection. When they are ready to molt, they brush their body against rough edges to make a tear and then slowly slither out of it, head first.

Brumation of Corn Snake

Brumation is just like hibernation, and corn snakes do that in the winter. However, during hibernation, mammals and birds sleep, slowing down their metabolic rates to conserve body heat. Snakes do almost the same thing during brumation, but they do not sleep. They remain fully conscious and may even slither out of their hiding places to bask.

Breeders and snake-keepers refrain from feeding their pet corn snakes when they are shedding or experiencing brumation. During this time, any form of disturbance may trigger aggression or they may refuse to eat at all in the future. Generally, snake-keepers feed adult corn snakes a fuzzy mouse every 14 to 21 days.

How Long Can A Baby Corn Snake Go Without Eating?

Baby corn snakes grow up to 12 inches and weigh about 50 to 100 gm, while the male babies may weigh a few grams less. Corn snakes in the wild may be a bit smaller and lighter since they do not get a regular supply of food. When corn snakes are in a baby stage, they need a lot of nutrition to grow with a healthy physical and mental development.

A baby snake can go for 5 to 7 days without eating anything. They shed within a week after they hatch, and during this time they prefer to not eat anything, since they are already vulnerable and eating will slow them down even more. If a baby corn snake does not get to eat anything or refuses food for longer than 4 weeks, there is little chance for it to survive.

How Can Corn Snakes Go Without Eating For Such A Long Time?

Corn snakes are highly adaptive and energy-efficient animals. They can live in semi-arid to arid regions, mountainous areas, places close to water bodies, and even urban localities. How they live on a day to day basis also determines how often they feed.

Slow Digestion Process

Let’s not forget that corn snakes, like all other snakes, take a lot of time to digest their food which are usually full-sized rodents, birds or amphibians. They do not chew their food like mammals do, as such they require a longer time to break down the food morsel into particles tiny enough to be used by the body. Digestion aside, corn snakes require 30 minutes to one hour just to swallow the food item!

Humans take about 6 to 8 hours to digest their food, whereas snakes take 3 to 5 days, depending upon the size of the food item, to digest their food completely. This is one reason why snakes do not eat very frequently and generally go about for a week, and sometimes longer, before they feel hungry again.

Lifestyle Effect on Corn Snake

Sedentary Lifestyle

As mammals, and limbed reptiles like lizards and iguanas, move about a lot, they consume a lot of their energy within a very short period of time. Corn snakes, on the other hand, are limbless and generally lead a very relaxed and sedentary lifestyle. During the daytime and most of the night time, they remain hidden and coiled up within holes and crevices.

They can reduce their metabolic rate by 70% and conserve a lot of energy. This is another big reason as to why they do not need to eat every single week. However, this may differ a little bit between wild and captive-bred morphs of corn snakes. Wild corn snakes need to move around for miles regularly in search for food and shelter which consume plenty of energy. Captive corn snakes, on the contrary, do not have to run from predators or hunt for food.

If wild corn snakes ever face a situation where there is no food and there are risks of getting preyed on, they prefer to remain stationary and use their fat and protein storage within their adipose tissues as a source of energy. But this could mean that they would lose body weight quite dramatically.


Corn snakes undergo brumation during the winter season and they do this mainly to protect themselves from freezing temperatures. Another reason they do this is to conserve energy so that they can shed their skin later to copulate in the spring season.

Corn snakes are ectotherms and depend on surrounding temperature to thermoregulate. Their body functions optimally between 70 and 90°F, and when temperatures fall below 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, they reach a dormant state where they cease to locomote to conserve body heat. They do this to save energy as well because food is scarce in the winter season. Lying motionless, hidden from view, also makes them less conspicuous to predators.

Do pet corn snakes do brumation? Pet corn snakes may not do it naturally since temperature levels in a tank never falls too low or reaches freezing point. However, breeders lower the temperature of the tank to 50 or 60°F between November and February so as to induce brumation in corn snakes artificially. Somewhere between April and May, the temperature is brought back to normal. Breeders do this to encourage copulation. However, brumation is also known to increase longevity and fertility in corn snakes.

During brumation, corn snakes may refuse meals. They remain hidden in caves or buried inside substrate layers, and may come out sometimes to soak in water. Their heart rate and respiration rate falls dramatically. A lower metabolic rate thus helps them to conserve energy.

Food Not To Their Liking

Sometimes the same kind of food may bring monotony in the snake’s dietary preferences. Refusing food for up to 14 days is alright– since corn snakes in captivity barely move about, much of their energy is conserved and they may not feel the need to eat food every single week. However, if they keep refusing food for a whole month, there may be a problem.

Maybe frozen thawed pinkies or fuzzies may not look or smell appealing to your snake anymore. The food morsel may also be larger than their stomach in which case it will not be able to swallow the food item. More serious reasons could include skin infections or respiratory issues. If you find them brushing their body against rocks and walls of the tank, or see a white discharge near their nose, you should consider making a vet visit.

How To Encourage Corn Snakes To Eat?

Lifestyle Effect on Corn Snake

Some effective ways could include dangling the prey item at the end of a feeding rod or stick in front of the snake. This may trigger interest in the corn snake to get hold of the prey and consume it. Here, the corn snake mistakes the prey item to be alive.

Warming the food item by a few degrees also helps. Transferring scent is another method of inducing hunger in your pet corn snake that has not eaten in weeks. Rub the prey item with chicken pieces– in this way the chicken scent will pass to the dead mouse and it may just encourage your snake to consume the food.


How long can a corn snake go without eating? It can go without food for months, but generally they consume food every couple of weeks.

Q: Why is my corn snake not eating?

Ans: Your corn snake may be shedding or undergoing brumation. Look for signs like hiding, burrowing, white skin covering the body, dipping in water frequently, and such. Young corn snakes shed every 2 to 3 weeks. They do brumation in winter.

Q: What do corn snakes eat?

Ans: Corn snakes are plain and straight meat eaters. Rodents like mice and rats are their favorite food. They also like birds and small amphibians.

Q: Can a new tank keep corn snakes from feeding?

Ans: A new home may make a corn snake stressed but they should eat after a few days.

Q: How long can a juvenile corn snake go without eating?

Ans: A juvenile corn snake may go without food for 7 to 10 days.


How long can a corn snake go without eating? Wild ones can go for months without eating but if they do not get anything to eat for longer than 3 months, they will get very sick. Thankfully, they have a relaxed and sedentary lifestyle, and processes like shedding and brumation have turned them to be extremely adaptive to the roughness and extremities of wilderness.

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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