Corn Snake Care Sheet & Guide to Ownership

Corn Snakes are one of the most popular pet serpents. They are fairly common, relatively easy to maintain, and come in a variety of different colors and patterns. If you’re considering buying a Corn Snake, you came to the right place. In this post, we will cover everything you need to know to ensure proper Corn Snake care. Additionally, this post covers all of the nuances of owning a pet Corn Snake.

Corn Snakes make excellent first time pets for new and aspiring snake owners!

Corn Snakes are probably the best option for a starter pet snake available. The breed is up there with California King Snakes and Hognose Snakes when it comes to ease of ownership. With that said, there are several factors to consider before buying a snake. Also, we recommend taking proper steps before purchasing. Some of these steps include: understanding what it means to own a snake, knowing how to set up and manage a Corn Snake terrarium, and more.

To start, we are going to cover the most frequently asked questions regarding Corn Snake care and pet ownership.

Corn Snake Pet FAQs & Facts

Reviewing these frequently asked Corn Snake care questions is a great place to start while considering if this is the right pet for you and your family. Whether you’re a parent of an aspiring owner, or and aspiring owner yourself, you’ll need to know all of this information before purchasing a Corn Snake.

Corn Snake Enclosure Setup

Because Corn Snakes vary in size, it’s best to get the right terrarium from the get go. That way, you don’t have to “upgrade” and switch homes as your Corn Snake grows. Although, if you want to start small or already have a tank, that is definitely an option.

Keep in mind though, you’ll eventually need a habitat that spans about 36 inches long. That is an ideal tank length for Corn Snakes, as they grow to be about 36-48 inches on average.

Below, you will find a “Corn Snake Starter Kit” that covers the basics you need to get started.

Recommended Terrarium Starter Kit

REPTIZOO Glass terrarium, 36 x 18 x 24

Great long term cage for Corn Snakes and many other breeds

There are many reasons why this REPTIZOO terrarium make a great home for any Corn Snake. First, it’s plenty large enough for a baby Corn Snake to grow. Also, it’s more than suitable to house a full grown Corn Snake, too.

When it comes to easy of cleaning, feeding, and handling, it doesn’t get much better than this enclosure. The terrarium opens from the front, which makes things much easier in many ways. The top is also a built in metal mesh that can hold a heat lamp or heat source. Not to mention, this terrarium is pretty sleek and versatile. It comes disassembled, but is fairly easy to build once ordered and delivered.

While there are alternative terrarium setups, this is the enclosure that we recommend for the best Corn Snake care. Especially for new owners and aspiring snake hobbiests.

Other Essential Corn Snake Habitat Items

ReptiChip Premium Coconut Substrate

This is one of our most highly recommended substrate, and it is great for proper Corn Snake care.

This premium coconut substrate is easy to clean, and is odorless. It's best to use a Corn Snake bedding with no odor, because odors are a sign the substrate was treated with chemicals. ReptiChip Premium Coconut Substrate is hands down our recommendation for Corn Snake bedding.
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Zilla Reptile Habitat D├ęcor Shale Rock Den

Like most other snakes, Corn Snakes enjoy having a place to hide away from it all. This "snake hide" is perfect for your Corn Snake to curl up and get some seclusion.

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a snake house hide
iPower Tank Heat Pad/Digital Thermostat

Corn Snakes don't require a lighting cycle, so this heating mat is perfect for maintaining temperatures in your Corn Snake's habitat.

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Exo Terra Water Dish

Water bowls are key for three things: keeping your snake hydrated, contolling humidity, and giving your snake a place to soak when it's about to shed. This water bowl is plenty big enough for all three. Plus, the interior is a light color making any kind of foul easy to spot, making the blow easy to clean.

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california king snake water bowl
iPower Digital Heat Mat Thermostat Controller for Reptiles

You'll need at least one thermometer for your Corn Snake's cage. That way, you can keep tab on the basking and ambient side of the terrarium. Snakes tend to like variety when it comes to heat and climate. It's best to monitor temperature of all parts of the habitat on a regular basis.

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Corn Snake Cage Hygiene and Cleaning

One of the greatest parts about owning a snake is that they are fairly clean animals. Unlike dogs or cats, they only poop once a week or so, and typically don’t omit foul smells of any sort. Although, some breeds of snakes do emit odors that are strong and unpleasant, Corn Snakes typically do not. Anyway maintaining a Corn Snake terrarium is pretty basic. It’s not a ton of work compared to other pets, although you need to be sure you stay on top o fa few things and provide the proper cleanliness for your Corn Snake.

The main things you’ll need to do are sift and change the substrate, remove feces or fouled substrate, clean the water bowl, and occasionally sanitize the terrarium.

Pet Corn Snake Cage Temperature, Heat, Humidity, and Climate

Maintaining the right temperature in a terrarium is key to proper Corn Snake care. Corn Snake are not picky like some other snakes when it comes to heating and temperature. A nice part about Corn Snakes is that they are nocturnal and do not require a light regiment. Some snakes do require periods of light and dark, Corn Snakes, however do not. This is another reason why pet Corn Snakes are so popular — they don’t require much “special attention”.

Plus, yet another reason why pet Corn Snakes are popular: they do not require much special attention when it comes to humidity. Corn Snake humidity is generally easy to manage, with a few exceptions noted below.

Habitat Heating and Temperature Recommendations

Corn Snakes do best with a heating mat or other heat source that does not involve light. There’s no need to have a regular light schedule with this breed of snake. Consequently, there are a few considerations when considering Corn Snake temperature and their terrarium climate.

Avoid heat rocks or any other heat source that has direct contact with your Corn Snake. These are prone to overheating, can cause discomfort to, and even sometimes injure snakes.

Corn snakes do best with two different kinds of heat: ambient and basking. Like many other animals on this earth, variety is key with Corn Snakes. Since they’re cold blooded, regulating one half of the enclosure to be warmer than the other is recommended.

As for exact temperature, Corn Snakes prefer a basking temperature of 86-89 degrees Fahrenheit, and an ambient temperature of about 75-82 degrees Fahrenheit. That way, your Corn Snake has two different areas to either cool down or warm up wen it wants to.

A key sign that your Corn Snake may be overheating is if it spends too much time soaking in the water bowl. Although it’s totally normal for Corn Snakes to soak every now and again and during shedding time, prolonged soaking could mean it is too hot.

An easy way to monitor and regulate temperature is by using a digital thermometer and periodically checking each side of the terrarium to ensure there are no irregularities.

Humidity

Corn Snake’s are easy when it comes to humidity. In most cases, you will be just fine with a water bowl. However, if you live in a dry area, you may want to place your terrarium in a basement or explore other humidifier options. Corn Snakes prefer about 30-50% standing humidity, which is what many residential homes rest at.

Too dry of a climate can cause respiratory issues with Corn Snakes. If you’re unsure of the humidity in the room you’re keeping your snake, buy a humidity tester and plan accordingly.

There are plenty of options, like adding plants near the terrarium, that can help improve the humidity of your Corn Snake’s habitat. While this is usually a non-issue to ownership, you must make sure the humidity is right to ensure proper Corn Snake care… especially if you live in a place like Nevada or Arizona. Even then, the lowest average humidity in those locations sit at just above 30%.

Feeding Best Practices

Feeding Corn Snakes is an exciting part about being a snake owner. They are good eaters, and the primary Corn Snake food are mice. In the wild, they are known to eat lizards, frogs, small birds, and other small mammals. It’s best to avoid feeding your Corn Snake any other food than mice. Rodent are the way to go to ensure best care for your Corn Snake.

There are many different types of feeder mice out there. The size of mouse and frequency of feeding depends on how old and large your Corn Snake is. At a young age, they’ll likely have to start out with live, pinky mice. Eventually they can graduate to hoppers and sometimes even small rats. An in depth guide to Corn Snake feeding can be found below.

Corn Snake Care Pro Tip

Baby Corn Snakes are usually defensive, and can often reject frozen mice. If you buy a juvenile Corn Snake and it is rejecting frozen mice, try starting out with live pinkies and slowly introduce thawed, frozen pinkies over time. It’s completely normal to experience difficulties feeding baby Corn Snakes. It’s always best to ask the breeder you’re purchasing from about the snake eating habits before buying.

Feeding Guide

Corn Snake Feeding Chart

There are a few different ways to gauge what size mouse you should feed your corn snake. First, if you’re ever unsure, ask your breeder. They will be able to provide you with the best possible information, especially since Corn Snakes can often vary in size. The size variation also can cause a variation in the size of the meal you should feed your Corn Snake.

Here are a few more rules of thumb when feeding a Corn Snake:

  1. Corn Snakes generally eat a meal 10% if their total body weight. E.g. if your Corn Snake weights 300 grams, feed it a meal that is 25-30 grams.
  2. Aim for a meal that is 1-1.5 times the size of the thickest part of a Corn Snake’s body.
  3. Ask your breeder for tips! They’ll be able to give the best recommendation.

In any case, we wanted to give you a few pointers, so below is a general Corn Snake feeding chart.

Feeding Chart

Juvenile (10-18 inches)

Frozen Mouse Size: Pinky

Maturing Young Snake (18-26 inches)

Frozen Mouse Size: Fuzzy or Hoppers

Nearing Full Grown (26-40 inches)

Frozen Mouse Size: Adult Mice

Full Grown (40-60 inches)

Frozen Mouse Size: Adult Mice or small crawler rats

Pet Corn Snake Temperament and Handling

Corn Snakes are typically docile in captivity. There are very few times when they become aggressive, and even then it’s the times when most snake breeds shouldn’t be handled.

You shouldn’t have to worry about any kind of attack or injury with these harmless little guys. They aren’t venomous, and their bites are otherwise painless (in the rare case a Corn Snake actually bites you).

These snakes are a incredibly popular breed for pets, and are great for first time owners… especially because they are just so darn easy to care for and handle.

When handling your pet Corn snake, it’s best to be confident, calm, and relaxed. Snakes sense emotions, especially if your hands are shaky and if the handler is notably nervous. Do not allow nerve-ridden individuals handle the snake, because visibly nervous and jumpy people will stress the snake out.

In general, avoid handling before right before and after shedding. These are times that snakes can become defensive, and sometimes combative. Your Corn Snake will give you warning signs as to whether or not it wants to be picked up or not. It’s best to handle frequently when they are young, so your Corn Snake becomes used to being handled. Also, try and handle your new pet Corn Snake at least 1-2 times per week.

Where to Buy a Pet Corn Snake

Corn Snakes are extremely common and you can buy them in most pet stores. Although they are widely available, we recommend buying through a reputable breeder. Breeders are a great source of information, and they will be able to tell you about size, proper Corn Snake care, etc. Petco and other big branch stores tend to not know as much about snakes as breeders.

Also, you can explore online snake retailers like xyzreptiles.com. They tend to have quality pets, and can ship them right to your door. The variety they offer is nice, too. Although, they don’t have a large selection of different Corn Snake morphs.

How Much Does a Pet Corn Snake Cost?

Corn Snakes typically range in between $20-40 for a juvenile. If you’re getting charged more than that, you should look elsewhere because in most cases, common corn snakes shouldn’t be more than forty bucks. That said, some unique morphs may cost more.

Other Snake Care Guides

3 thoughts on “Corn Snake Care Sheet & Guide to Ownership”

  1. My son has been asking for a pet snake for a long time now and keeps trying to prove to us that he can handle the care required. I think it’s a great idea for him to be in charge of a living creature so that he can work on developing responsibility. It’s nice that you talked about corn snakes getting around 48 inches in length because that is a little bigger than I originally thought.

    Reply
    • Hi Tristan,

      Thanks for your response, and glad to hear you and your son are thinking of entering the wonderful world of snake ownership. In fact, when I was young, my father let me have a pet snake for the same reason — I ended up caring for him for 12 years.

      When ti comes to Size, 48 inches seems a lot longer than it actually is. Corn Snakes don’t have the same girth as say, a Ball Python. Corn Snakes are some of the most popular beginner pet snakes, and I wouldn’t be too concerned about that size.

      That said, if size is a concern, you should explore the Hognose Snake species. They are amazing pets for first time snake owners, and they also don’t grow too large.

      Hope you find what you’re looking for!

      Reply
  2. Hello!
    Thank you so much for this article! It provided a lot of information, I’m trying to convince my mom to get a corn snake. I have the perfect spot for the terrarium, and we have the money for it. The notes I gathered will probably help me convince her.

    Reply

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