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 Scientific Facts
Corn Snakes are in the Rat Snake family, and are native to North America. Typically, they are more popular as pets in North America because of their locality.
The scientific name for a Corn Snake is Pantherophis guttatus. In the wild, they typically feed on small mammals, birds, frogs, etc. Later on, we will cover feeding best practices for your Corn Snake.
Are Corn Snakes Venomous?
No, Corn Snakes are not poisonous or dangerous. Although, Corn Snakes do naturally resemble some other poisonous breeds local to North America. Since Corn Snakes constrict to kill, they have no need for venom. So, if you get bit, there’s no need to worry.
They are often mistaken for Cotton Mouth Snakes or Copper Head Snakes. Consequently, Corn Snakes are very good for humans. In the wild, they are a great natural pest control and typically reduce the amount of pests and rodents in neighborhoods.
It’s a shame that they are so often mistaken for their venomous counterparts, as they benefit humans more than we think. If you see one in the wild, leave it be. Additionally, they are not invasive and often help control invasive rodents and other invasive pests.
How Big Do Corn Snakes Get?
Corn Snake size depends on age. Consequently, Corn Snakes size doesn’t vary as much when it comes to sex. Generally, males and females grow at the same rate and reach similar girths/lengths.
When they are born, Corn Snake hatchlings average about 8-14 inches long. They are fairly pencil-like when young, too.
When they grow up, adult Corn Snakes length can vary. Sometimes, the size of an enclosure can impact the maximum length of a Corn Snake. Captive Corn Snake size can vary between 24-54 inches. While that seems like a wide range, most of the time they end up being somewhere between 36-48 inches. Typically, only the specimens get larger than 48 inches and smaller than 36 inches.
Rule of thumb, ask your breeder how large the Corn Snake will get when purchasing. They will likely be able to give you a good size estimate so you can plan accordingly.
What Size Cage Do Corn Snakes Need?
The size of a Corn Snake terrarium truly depends on how big the corn snake grows to be. Typically, the size of the cage can impact how large they get if purchased in captivity.
Juvenile Corn Snakes can do just fine in a smaller, 10 gallon tank. Once they grow, we recommend a terrarium that spans at least 36 inches long. That’s about 3 feet, and about 3/4ths the size of an average full length Corn Snake.
Rule of thumb, try and get a terrarium that is about 3/4ths the full length of your Corn Snake. That should give him or her plenty of room to stretch out, feed, bask, and relax. This tank is a great starter and long term habitat for your Corn Snake. It has a lot of great features, and is suitable for both baby and full grown Corn Snakes.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can always convert old fish tanks or use a plastic storage container as an alternative solution.
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.
|Zilla Reptile Habitat Décor 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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
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.
Changing and Maintaining Corn Snake Bedding
Substrate is an essential part of any snake’s home. It gives a place for snakes to burrow, makes a terrarium more comfortable, and helps keep the cage sanitary. Also, it’s pretty cheap, and fairly easy to keep up with. When buying bedding for a Corn Snake, make sure it larger, coarse material. Also, make sure it does not omit any type of odor. We find Coconut Substrate is a great long term bedding for corn snakes.
When it comes to keeping the cage clean, you should check daily if the snake has visibly fouled the substrate. Also, once or twice a week, sift through the substrate to see if there is any unseen defecation that is not on top of the bedding. Rule of thumb, change out the substrate every 1-2 months to keep your snake happy and to keep the cage from smelling of urine.
Proper Water Bowl Care
Water bowls are the most tasking part of Corn Snake care. That said, it still only takes at most a few minutes a day to maintain. Standing water is a breeding ground for slime, mold, and bacteria. Consequently, foul water can be harmful to snakes, so it’s best to keep it clean and sanitary.
First, you should change your snake’s water each and every day. If you see that your snake has fouled or defecated in the water bowl, which does happen, you should change it immediately.
Second, you need to scrub and sanitize the water bowl at least twice a week. As mentioned, harmful bacteria, red slime, etc. can build up pretty quickly in a serpent’s water bowl. This cleaning solution should do the trick. Or, you can use a diluted bleach solution. Either way, make sure the bowl is rinsed thoroughly to remove any cleaning agents before placing it back in your Corn Snake’s cage.
As mentioned above, it’s best to change your Corn Snake’s bedding out once every 1-2 months. When you swap out the substrate, you should also clean and sanitize the inside of the terrarium. A few paper towels and this Carolina Custom Cages cleaning solution will work perfectly. Make sure the inside of the sanitized terrarium dries out before placing substrate back into the habitat.
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.
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.
How Often to Feed Corn Snakes
How often do Corn Snakes eat? The answer truly depends on the size and age of your Corn Snake. When they are babies, it’s best to feed Corn Snakes one meal every 5-7 days until full grown.
After Corn Snakes are full grown, they can be fed more sparingly. Snakes have a relatively slow metabolism, and will be okay eating every 10-12 days once they reach maturity. That said, some Corn Snakes like to eat more than others. If you space out feeding times and your Corn Snake becomes more ornery, try offering food to them over 7-10 days rather than 10-12.
Sometimes during the winter or season changes, Corn Snakes will reject food. That is normal, and will happen with many species of snakes native to North America in areas with vastly different seasons. If this happens, don’t worry. Simply try offering food to your Corn Snake in a day or two if it rejects food. If this problem persists, you should consult a specialist veterinarian or the breeder you bought the snake from.
General Feeding Best Practices
Once in a regular schedule and routine, Corn Snakes are great eaters. Most owners who experience issues at all, experience them in the first few weeks of ownership. This is usually because the snake is in a new habitat and can take some time to get used to it’s surroundings.
First, we recommend starting your Corn Snake off on frozen mice. It makes thing so much easier, i.e. not having to run to the store twice a week to get a live mouse.
It’s best to ask your breeder if your Corn Snake has been introduced to frozen mice yet or not. Sometimes, infant Corn Snakes can take a while to warm up to eating frozen mice. When feeding your Corn Snake frozen mice, it’s best to completely thaw them in warm water. To make the frozen food more enticing, you can either dip it in a can of tuna or salmon juice, or make small, micro incisions in the rodent to create a scent.
Also, you should always use tongs when presenting a frozen mouse to your Corn Snake. That way, you will avoid any biting or misguided striking.
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:
- 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.
- Aim for a meal that is 1-1.5 times the size of the thickest part of a Corn Snake’s body.
- 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.
Juvenile (10-18 inches)
Frozen Mouse Size: Pinky
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.
3 thoughts on “Corn Snake Care Sheet & Guide to Ownership”
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.
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!
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.