Introduction to Keeping Corn Snakes as Pets

Updated on February 2, 2018

Corn snakes are a small sized colubrid snake that makes a good choice for anyone who would like to keep a snake as a pet. They are native to North America and are available in a variety of colours, known as morphs. Corn snakes are generally docile and are easy to tame. They rarely bite and are inquisitive and relatively active making them a great choice as a pet for adults and children alike.

Corn snakes are bred in a variety of morphs, or colours which include white, orange, grey, red and striped. Each of these have the same care needs so it is really just a matter of which you prefer or are most attracted too. You may be able to find a breeder in your area who keeps many morphs as you will be able to see them in the flesh before making a decision on which to buy. When choosing your snake pick one that has clear eyes and no signs of mites or illness and has no cuts or scrapes. A healthy snake should be alert to your presence, bright eyed and flicking it’s tongue regularly.

Corn snakes make unusual and interesting pets. They are also relatively easy to care for,
Corn snakes make unusual and interesting pets. They are also relatively easy to care for, | Source
A glass fronted vivarium.
A glass fronted vivarium. | Source

Creating a Home For Your Corn Snake

In the wild corn snakes can be found in a variety of environments such as pine forests, grasslands, rocky areas and around farms and grain stores. They spend most of their time on the ground but are able and happy to have the change to climb as well.

Corn snakes do not need large enclosures to be happy and health in captivity and large open spaces can in fact be stressful for them. A medium sized vivarium or fish tank with a tight fitting lid is perfectly suitable for most corn snakes. Hatchlings and very small snakes should be housed in a smaller vivarium. A minimum allowance of approximately 1 square foot of floor spaces for each foot of snake is a good guide when choosing a home for a corn snake. Corn snakes are excellent escape artists so care should be taken to ensure that the lid to their home is secure and ideal should be able to be fastened or held down somehow. Although small, corn snakes are strong and may be able to push off a loose fitting lid and escape.

Some people chose to use specially designed plastic vivariums for housing corn snakes and these are available in many sizes and work well. Really Useful Boxes (RUBs) can also make good homes for corn snakes once some air holes have been drilled. Take care to keep these holes small to prevent your snake from escaping or getting stuck. These boxes have lids with fasteners on two side which keep them secure. These types of tubs can also be useful for transporting your snake or as temporary housing while cleaning their main home.

Various substrates are suitable for using with corn snakes. A common choice is aspen shavings which can be bought online or in pet shops. Aspen shavings cannot be cleaned so need to be removed when they are wet or soiled. These can be spot cleaned as needed and the entire shaving replaced every 4-6 weeks. When using aspen shavings it is important to feed your snake outside of its home or in a separate container inside. This is due to the fact that the snake may ingest some of the substrate either by accident or because it is stuck to the food. Ingested substrate can cause a snake to become ill. A Tupperware container with air holes and a lid can be used as a feeding container. Cedar and redwood shavings are toxic and should not be used.

Paper towels such as kitchen roll can be used in the bottom of your snake’s home. These are easy and cheap to replace went needed. They can also be used under aspen shavings to make cleaning out easier.

Many decorations and furnishings can be bought for your snake’s home. These do not have to be specifically designed for snakes as long as they are safe. Branches, rocks and plastic plants make nice additions to a vivarium and also provide a snake with places to climb, explore and hide. Corn snakes should have several places to hide within their vivarium – one in the warm area and another in the cooler. These can be specialise reptile hides or can be made using other items such as terracotta plant pots. Corn snakes have a strong instinctive need to hide in order to remain safe and without suitable spots a snake can quickly become stressed and unhappy. This can lead to them refusing to feed and ill health.

A young corn snake. Corn snakes are generally happy to be handled and easy to tame.
A young corn snake. Corn snakes are generally happy to be handled and easy to tame. | Source

Providing Heat

Corn snakes are cold blooded and so need to obtain heat from their surroundings to stay warm. In the wild a snake would move in and out of sunny spots as it needed I order to regulate its body temperature. When keeping snakes in captivity heat mats and bulbs can be used to provide an alternative heat source. The temperature inside the vivarium should range between 21-30C (70-86F). A heat mat should cover no more than half of the floor space in order to create warm and cooler areas for the snake to move between. A thermostat should be used to monitor and regulate the heat generated.

A light bulb protected by a metal cage can also be used to provide heat. These must be careful protected to prevent the snake from burning itself and a thermostat will be required to regulate the temperature. Corn snakes do not require light 24 hours a day and in some cases the snake may become stressed by this constant lighting. Thermometers can be placed at each end of the tank to enable you to keep an eye on the temperature gradient easily.

Feeding Corn Snakes

Corn snakes should be fed on frozen mice which can be bought online or from many pet shops. The size of the mouse depends on the size of the snake and mice one and half times the size of the snakes head are appropriate. When young a corn snake will require one pink or fuzzy mouse every 6-7 days and as they grow will move on to adult sized mice. Once older corn snakes may feed less and 7-14 days between feedings is not unusual.

Corn snakes should not be handled directly after feeding as this can cause them to regurgitate the food. If the snake has been fed outside of its vivarium an appropriate container should be used. This can then be placed inside the vivarium so the snake can return home.

Corn snakes need access to fresh drinking water every day. This can be provided in a solid bowl that the sake is unable to tip over. Snakes may also bath in their water, especially when they are preparing to shed.

Handling a Corn Snake

Corn snakes are most active around dawn and dusk. Most are very placid and are easily tamed. When handling your corn snake care should be taken to support all of its body and not leave it hanging. This will help to make the snake feel comfortable and secure with you. Short periods of handling a few times a week are all that you need in order for your corn snake to become familiar with you. Some snakes may like to be handled more and some may prefer less or not to be handled at all, depending on their personality.

Shedding

Like all snakes, corn snakes will shed the outer layer of their skin several times a year throughout their whole lives. When it is preparing to shed, a snake’s behaviour and appearance may change but this is normal and nothing o worry about. The snake may refuse a feed or shy away from being handled as normal. The colour of their skin may appear dull and their eyes change to a blue-grey. This can cause their vision to be poorer than normal meaning that the snake may feel more insecure and defensive at this time.

Most snakes have no trouble in shedding at all and it is not necessary to help them. If you wish to help your snake, placing a larger bowl of water into their vivarium will raise the humidity and help loosen their old skin. You may see your snake rubbing its head on rocks or other items in order to start the shedding process. Once their head skin is free they can then move out of the outer layer as they move. After a shed check that all the skin has come away, especially around the eyes and tail tip. If any old skin is left it can be carefully removed with gentle rubbing or tweezers while bathing the snake in warm water.

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Claire

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • profile image

        Winterlys Mom 

        11 months ago

        Hello I am new here,and I'd like to say how beautiful I think your corn is!!

        I just lost my corn Leeley On Nov.8th 2017 Actually it was a blessing!I know that sounds cruel BUT she had not eaten since Aug.9th 2016!Yes!...she lived on her water only for almost 15 mths....People I tell are shocked,I felt helpless the whole time.Every 8-10 days I would offer her,her thawed warm mouse,she would smell it,play with it,or quickly pulls her head back,so I would throw it away (which adds up,I don't know something like $150-$200)Anyways....So in Nov.2012 my son had a corn snake named Lee and he was moving and couldn't have her with him,so I took her,we spent over $400 got her a new vivarian,and this and that!Watching her grow longer(almost 5ft.from when I got her from my Son)the excitement of watching her feed,right down to her loving it when you rubbed your finger back and forth under her mouth!!Yes she did escape on me 4 times(yes I left the door open!!)Thank goodness I found her right away 3 times!!The 3rd time she was gone for 15 days,and that was with me looking crazily with no luck....Then I thought what about under a cushion in the couch....to my surprise yup...there she was all coiled up as if that was were she belonged!!

        My plan is to get a baby Albino Okeetee,so my loss of Leeley is horrible,I know she is no longer suffering,(did I mention she had two or three big lumps on her,which left her unable to move fully,her last two sheds I had to help her)Watching her die was really hard,I ended up having to use an eye dropper to give her water!

        So my new addition to my family should be in her new home by Sunday Nov.19th and "Winterly" will be her name!

        Wow I have had no one to tell till now!

      • Elderberry Arts profile imageAUTHOR

        Claire 

        16 months ago from Surrey, Uk

        Albinos are beautiful and it sounds like you have her care sorted out well. My corn snake was a black anery moph.

      • profile image

        Dave 

        16 months ago

        I have a 3 month old albino corn snake called midnight she is beautiful to handle got her in a routine with feeding and handling leave her 2 days after she been fed then I handle her

      • Elderberry Arts profile imageAUTHOR

        Claire 

        3 years ago from Surrey, Uk

        Thank you. I have wanted to keep snakes for many years but always felt it seemed complicated. Size and space was a big factor too. I had a friend when I was at school who had a lot of trouble with feeding his snake which also made me wary.

        I have a female corn snake who I bought when she was just over a year old and have had no trouble at all with her so I am really pleased I did. My son is 8 and loves to watch her and being small he can handle her easily and safely too.

      • Alphadogg16 profile image

        Kevin W 

        3 years ago from Texas

        This was a very interesting and informative article Elderberry Arts. I have a Burmese Python personally, however my kids have taking interest in snakes/reptiles and I was considering starting them with something a lot smaller like a Corn snake. This hub was extremely helpful. Voted up on your article.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, pethelpful.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://pethelpful.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)