How to Care for a Corn Snake

Often referred to a ‘Corns’ in the pet trade, corn snakes derive their interesting name from corn granaries. Farmers mostly spotted corn snakes around their corn granaries and corn fields because they attracted rodents such as mice. They are a great pet snake choice due to their docile nature and are relatively easy to care for. 

Adult corn snakes also grow to a length of between 3-5 feet, making them an ideal choice. These reptiles are a favorite for snake keepers and breeders due to their beautiful colors and patterns. Before you overzealously jump at the opportunity to bring home a corn, it is essential first to understand how to care for them.

Setting up housing

Get the right size tank for your corn snake. 

Adult corn snakes grow up to a length of 5 feet, therefore, a 30-50 inch vivarium or tank would be appropriately sized. This can also be interpreted to mean a 20-gallon tank. Ensure the lid is secure and can be clamped down. Corn snakes are adept at escape tactics. They will gently push up the lid looking for areas of weaknesses and tiny openings through which they can fit through.

Accessorizing the vivarium is a great idea.

This is because corn snakes like to hide and climb. Hiding spots make your corn feel secure and safe. Put one on each end of the vivarium in both the cold and warm places. Anything from an upside-down cardboard box to a tree bark could make a good hide box. It shouldn’t be too large, just large enough for the snake to curl up in. A sturdy branch for your corn to climb is also a brilliant idea. The branch should be firmly secured so that it’s safe for your snake to climb. 

Cover the vivarium with a substrate. 

There is a variety of floor covering commercially available for a corn snake. AThe floor covering should be loose because corn snakes like to burrow. Some of the best options include cypress chips, repti-carpet, plain paper towels, and newspaper. Newspapers are very absorbed and easy to replace, but they are not aesthetically pleasing.

Maintain the appropriate temperatures within the vivarium. 

Why is this vital? Correct temperature levels are crucial for the well being of your corn snake. For overhead, you may use an incandescent heat lamp. Corn snakes are originally from temperate climates; therefore, they do not need tropical temperatures. Keep it at 80-85 F. Your corn snakes basking spot should be a little warmer at about 85-88 F. Heat tapes and heating pads are great for creating a basking site. However, since they are hard to monitor, use a thermometer in the enclosure to keep it well regulated. 

Humidity levels

Fortunately, corn snakes like the humidity found in an average household. It should range between 40-50% in the enclosure. When it is time to shed, a slightly higher humidity level of about 60% is advised. Closely monitor your corn snake’s enclosure during winter as it gets drier. You may need an evaporating water bowl that you refill often or manually mist the enclosure. 

Taking care of your corn on a daily basis

Constant water supply.

Ensure your snake has a water bowl with water big enough for them to soak in. Preferably, change the water twice every week. As you place your bowl in the enclosure, remember depending on which side you put it that it could increase the humidity. 

Adequate lighting

Your snake should enjoy 12 hours of both light and dark. UV lights aren’t necessary because your snake doesn’t need to synthesize vitamin D3. They receive vitamin D3 from the rodents they consume.

Avoid keeping two corn snakes together.

Corn snakes are a solitary species and are very territorial. Keeping two of them together will heighten their level of stress. In captivity, corn snakes have been known to eat one another, resulting in the death of both. However, there is an exception to this rule. When breeding, you are allowed to pair two corn snakes. Only put them together when you are sure they are ready to mate. 

Feed your corn snake the right mice size. 

Feeding your corn snake the right sized mice ensures they do not starve or overfeed. Frozen mice can stay in your freezer for up to 6 months. The basic feeding standard is that you shouldn’t feed your mice bigger than the broadest part of its body. Hatchlings are fed pinkie sized mice and progress upwards as they grow.

Here’s is a basic guide chart:

Snake’s WeightSize of Feed
4-15 gPinkie
16-30 g2 pinkies
31-50 gFuzzy
51-90gSmall mouse/ hopper
91-170 gMedium mouse
171-400 gAdult mouse
400+Extra large mouse

Be careful when changing the size of the rodent you feed your corn. If it is too big, your snake will suffer from broken ribs and have trouble during digestion.

Ideally, feed your snake once a week. 

Adult corn snakes need to feed once every 10-14 days. Hatchlings need to be fed twice in 7 days. Do not handle your pet snake after feeding. It may cause regurgitation or aggression. Wait for at least 48 hours before handling them.

Cleaning and hygiene

Spot clean the enclosure daily by removing any waste matter. Every three weeks so, give the vivarium a thorough clean up. Replace the substrate, then clean and disinfect the accessories such as the hides and branches. Like any other pet, snakes carry bacteria that cause infection. Always clean your hands before and after handling and cleaning the enclosure.


Handle your corn snake with care. When picking it up, ensure you support the middle of their body. Pet the snake in the same direction as its scales. They may get agitated when you do it in the opposite direction. Always wash your hands after your pet snake. After feeding, give your snake at least 48 hours before attempting to handle them. 

Keep a close eye on your snake so that you can be aware of when they are about to shed. Once the eyes start to turn milky and the skin becomes dull, it’s time to shed. Do not handle your snake during this period. Ensure the enclosure is humid enough to aid shedding. 

What happens when a corn snake bites you?

Corn snakes don’t have fangs. They only have teeth, which makes their bite only as harmful as a cat scratch. The bite doesn’t really hurt, but the shock of it may. Corn snakes are non-venomous snakes; therefore, they do not inject poison when they bite. Corn snakes are not a harmful species, and they only lash out when they feel cornered. If your corn snake bites and latches on, do not yank them off. Forcefully prying them off will cause a tear in your skin, aggravating the wound further. 

Gently run water over the snake’s head, and they will release. Even alcohol does the trick but ensure you use it sparingly as it is harmful to your snake. After releasing, secure the corn snake and put it back in its enclosure. Now using warm water soap, gently clean the wound and bandage it. A band-aid will keep bacteria and dirt off, avoiding further infection. Don’t worry about the wound, and it will soon enough as long as you take care of it like any other wound.

Q&A about Caring for a Corn Snake

Should I feed my corn snake when it is in the shedding phase?

Corn snakes do not like to feed when shedding, so you might be wasting a day’s feed. I would advise you to wait a few more days until after your corn snake has finished shedding before trying to feed them again. However, if your snake does feed during shedding, then there is nothing to worry about. 

Should I leave my corn snake alone if they are still new to my home?

No, don’t neglect your snake. When you first bring your snake home, make a lot of appearances until they are familiar with your scent. After a few days, return to regular pet care and try to feed it. 

My corn snake refuses to feed after shedding. What could be the problem?

Your corn snake is likely stressed due to the shedding. Perhaps it was more aggravated by insufficient humidity or even stuck eye caps. Give your snake a few days before trying to feed them again. 

Can a corn snake hurt my dog?

When feeling threatened, your snake will strike. Preferably, keep them apart and slowly introduce them to each other. For example, let your dog in the room where the enclosure is so that they can get familiar with each other by sight and scent. 

Are corn snakes aggressive?

Corns are easily one of the least aggressive snake species. They are docile and very calm. They only bite when threatened or stressed. For this reason, they are ideal for first-time snake owners.

Stress induced situations include reaching for your snake from above their heads. Naturally, animals that hunt corn snakes strike from above them, making them paranoid about anything above their head. To avoid this, ensure your corn sees your hand reaching in the enclosure and do not linger. This reassures them that everything is okay. Another situation that causes aggression is tightly gripping your snake during handling. To avoid this, ensure you are comfortable and calm before handling your corn. 

Your pet snake may also strike if you smell like their food. So, before handling your snake, first, clean your hands to get rid of any mouse smell.

While the above care tips for your corn snake aren’t conclusive, they are a great place to start. When in doubt, always consult a professional or a vet. Remember to spend as much time with your pet to breed familiarity and a bond. Good pet husbandry is the sincerest form of affection we first show our pets. 

Recent Content