What is the Best Bedding for Corn Snakes?

Do you often feel lost looking through bedding options and products for snake vivariums? Well, you’re not alone. There is a shockingly broad array of bedding in the market, and it is challenging to know which is best for your corny friend. 

The term ‘substrate’ is another word for bedding. It’s the material you use to cover the floor of your corn snake’s terrarium.

In the absence of a substrate to line your snake’s vivarium, any moisture from urates, a water bowl, or a spray bottle won’t be adequately absorbed. You need a substrate that not only looks good but is also absorbent and easy to burrow in.

Why is the right substrate/bedding important?

Irrespective of how tough and adaptable your pet snake is, you still need to take proper care of it. Part of appropriate pet husbandry is getting them good bedding. The right substrate for your corn snake’s terrarium helps regulate the humidity, thereby promoting good health. A wrong substrate choice may cause illnesses and even the death of your pet snake in severe cases.

What to look for in a corn snakes substrate/bedding

When looking for the right substrate for your corn snake, there are some elements that will guide you. Here is a simple breakdown of the characteristics of the right bedding:


The material of the bedding you choose plays a significant role in the overall health of your corn snake. Corn snakes use substrates to protect their bellies, and they love to burrow in them too. Natural options such as wood chips and fibers are great, but they should be natural.


There are certain materials you shouldn’t use for lining your corn snakes terrarium. The materials you buy should also be from a trusted manufacturer. It may seem right to purchase wood chips or cypress mulch from a local hardware store, but they aren’t expressly keen on ensuring the product is chemical-free. Therefore, it is essential to stick to pet stores and products from pet keepers.


Cleaning up is one of the main factors an owner should consider when choosing bedding for a corn snake’s vivarium. The right bedding choice allows you to clean up without creating an unnecessary mess easily. There are substrates that have natural sanitizing properties that prevent the buildup and spread of bacteria.


Despite corn snakes being inexpensive pets, it is important to balance quality with affordability. Bedding with a higher price tag isn’t necessarily the best in quality. Prices often change, and you should keep yourself appraised.

Bag size

It is easy to assume that substrate products are sold in a standard or same size bag. They aren’t. When buying a substrate, keep an eye on the bag size and its options. Buying in bulk usually saves the owner money, even though it seems quite pricey upfront. 

Grain size

Getting the proper grain-sized substrate is crucial for the safety of your corn snake. If the grains are too small, a baby corn snake may accidentally swallow some pieces putting their health in jeopardy.

Types of bedding options for your corn snake

In this segment, we review various types of beddings and their unique features to help you make a good decision for your pet snake. 

Aspen Bedding

Known as one of the most popular choices for reptile pet owners, Aspen shavings are affordable and look good in appearance. Aspen bedding best imitates the corn snake’s natural habitat. It feels natural to a corn snake as they move in it. It allows them to burrow and build holes and nests easily. The product boasts of its ability to absorb and prevent odors. No toxic oils are used in the production of this substrate. 

Pros of Aspen bedding

  • It’s all-natural and doesn’t contain toxic oils or resins. 
  • Excellent for cleaning up due to its light color shade that makes poop easy to spot and remove. 
  • Offers great value for money
  • Safe if ingested and will not cause constipation/impaction.
  • Great for burrowing.

Cons of Aspen bedding

  • It easily gets moldy from too much moisture and needs to be changed quite often to avoid this.

Coconut Fibre Bedding

Coconut fiber bedding is a soft, comfortable substrate for corn snakes. It’s a ‘green’ substrate made from coco coir that allows snakes to burrow easily. It is also effective at fighting odors and regulating humidity. Coconut fiber is a substrate that doesn’t mold and is perfect for incubating corn snake eggs. The substrate’s texture is soft and is gentle on a corn snake’s belly.

Pros of Coconut bedding

  • Holds moisture well
  • It’s environmentally friendly and safe for your pet
  • It doesn’t contain chemicals or toxins
  • Suitable for burrowing.

Cons of Coconut bedding

  • It may get dusty if not properly wetted down. 

Cypress Mulch

Cypress mulch is very similar to Aspen because they are both made of wood that is shaved into small pieces. It is a comfortable substrate that retains humidity and allows your snake to burrow. It is quite affordable and readily available. Before using cypress mulch, it is advisable to bake it in the oven at 350 degrees for at least thirty minutes to destroy any insects or mites. Give it time to cool, then spray in moisture before using it.

Pros of Cypress mulch

  • It has a great natural aesthetic look.
  • It holds onto moisture.
  • It doesn’t mold easily. 
  • It retains its shape when your corn burrows in it. 

Cons of Cypress mulch

  • You need to bake it before using it to line your snake vivarium floor. 


Lignocel is a bedding option made from fir and spruce. Usually, it is first severely chipped then dried at high temperatures to make it dry and absorbent.

Pros of cypress mulch

  • It is great for corn snakes as they like to burrow.
  • It is highly absorbent and holds humidity well.

Cons of cypress mulch

  • It is difficult to find or source.

Newspapers or paper towels

Used newspapers are popularly used for snake bedding due to their availability. Like newspapers, paper towels are a great temporary bedding option as they are easy to remove when soiled and are very absorbent. They are also a simple and practical choice. They aren’t particularly decorative nor suitable to burrow in but great when you are on a tight budget.

Pros of newspapers and paper towels

  • They are a cheap bedding option.
  • They are easy to replace.
  • They are versatile. You can lay them as a whole or opt to shred them into smaller manageable pieces.

Cons of Newspapers and paper towels

  • Doesn’t hold moisture well and could create a dampness issue.
  • Not very attractive to look at.
  • Some newspaper inks are not safe when ingested.
  • They don’t hold their shape and aren’t suitable for burrowing.

How often should you change your corn snake’s bedding?

Providing your corn snake with proper care doesn’t mean you should change its bedding every so often. It involves maintaining a clean vivarium which should be spot cleaned about twice a week. Corns do not often excrete; therefore, the vivarium easily stays clean.

Keep an eye out for when your corn snake goes to the toilet and spot clean it immediately as well as the soiled bedding. It is advisable to replace the soiled bedding.

You may replace your corn snake’s bedding entirely after about two months or when there is a noticeable buildup of bacteria and dirt. After taking all the bedding out, clean the enclosure with an antibacterial spray before putting in fresh bedding. 

What is the best bedding for a corn snake?

With the limitless options available in the market, it is easy to get overwhelmed when picking out bedding for your corn snake. 

Some of the best Aspen bedding choices include:

Zoo Med Aspen snake bedding

The Zoo Med aspen bedding is renowned for its super absorbency quality, appearance, and soft texture. The bedding is comfortable and doesn’t irritate a corn snake’s scales. It has no toxic oils and is great for burrowing in. It is free of odor and allows you to clean the vivarium easily.

Why we like it:

  • It’s affordable.
  • Corn snakes like to burrow in it.
  • It offers great value
  • Very absorbent.

Zilla Snake and Lizard Litter

These are heated treated aspen chips that are highly absorbent. It is hypoallergenic and 100% natural, non-toxic. The substrate is biodegradable and suitable for your pet snake. It has an ideal chip size that makes cleaning easy.

Why we like it:

  • The chips are heat treated, making them safe for your pet.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Very absorbent, which helps regulate the humidity.

Galapagos aspen digs shavings bedding

Made in the USA, this aspen bedding is made from sustainable material. It is easy to clean and dust-free. It greatly promotes the level of humidity in a vivarium. 

Why we like it:

  • Great for your snake to burrow.
  • It doesn’t contain toxic resins and oils.
  • It is dust-free

Zoo Med Repti Bark Reptile Substrate

Repti Bark is all-natural bedding that is reusable and lasts up to a year. It effectively absorbs moisture and helps retain great humidity levels for your corn snake. If the bedding isn’t smelly after three months, you can soak it in hot water, dry it and reuse it. 

Why we like it:

  • It retains moisture effectively
  • It’s reusable therefore saves on cost.
  • It’s an all ‘green’ product.

Reptile Prime Coconut fiber bedding 

It is an average-priced quality product perfect for corn snakes. The bedding retains humidity and is gentle on the snake’s belly. This product is eco-friendly and dust-free. It also supports plant growth in naturalistic vivariums.

Why we like it:

  • Eliminate odors.
  • Retains heat and humidity

Fluker Labs Repta Bark All-natural Bedding

Fluker Repta Bark is an orchid bark natural bedding that is excellent for retaining humidity levels. Its pieces are slightly bigger, reducing the chances of ingestion and dust. It is aesthetically pleasing and has great absorbency that reduces the chances of your corn snake getting fungal skin infections.

Why we like it:

  • Safe as its particle size reduces chances of ingestion
  • It is excellent at retaining humidity and moisture
  • It absorbs waste and prevents the accumulation of foul odor

ReptiChip Premium Coconut Reptile Substrate

This substrate is an eco-friendly choice that doesn’t produce dust and absorbs bad odors. It is great at retaining humidity which is very helpful during shedding. It doesn’t mold therefore doesn’t promote the growth of fungi and bacteria when moist. ReptiChip also has a 100% money-back guarantee. 

Why we like it:

  • Safe to use and easy to clean.
  • Absorbs odors.
  • It has a money-back guarantee.

Zoo Med Eco Earth Compressed Coconut fiber substrate

Zoo Med is a premium coconut bedding option with excellent quality and a higher price tag. The fiber retains moisture for a long. This product traps and isolates bacteria, keeping the tank clean and free of infection.

Why we like it:

  • It has little to no smell.
  • It holds water well, thereby helping to regulate humidity within the enclosure.
  • Properly packaged to reduce cost and messes when unpacking.

Zoo Med Forest Floor Bedding

The main component of this forest floor bedding is cypress mulch. It is 100% organic and natural. It retains moisture well and helps maintain great humidity levels in an enclosure. Despite its ability to retain moisture, it manages to remain odorless.

Why we like it:

  • It doesn’t produce any odor
  • Retains humidity levels in an enclosure.

Critters Comfort Coconut reptile bedding organic

This 100% organic coconut bedding is dust-free and non-toxic, and safe for your pet snake. It is fragrance-free and has odor control ensuring the enclosure stays clean and bacteria-free. 

Why we like it:

  • It holds moisture well
  • Eliminates odors and traps waste
  • It environmentally safe for your pets

Q&As about Corn snake bedding

Can I use sand as bedding for my corn snake?

Sand tends to be problematic when used as bedding because it may cause impaction and harmful when ingested. After your snake excretes, you need to take care of it immediately as it doesn’t trap the waste like other beddings.

How often should I change my corn snake’s bedding?

You should do a thorough clean and change your corn snake’s bedding every 1-2 months. During this exercise, you should relocate your pet snake and clean all the cage components as you replace the bedding. However, you should spot clean often and as needed.

How deep should corn snake substrate be?

A corn snake’s substrate should be about two to three inches deep. This allows your corn snake to burrow without sitting at the very bottom of the tank. This depth is also sufficient to absorb urates and sustain reliable humidity levels.

My corn snake swallowed some Aspen bedding. What should I do?

Aspen bedding will not harm your snake when swallowed. Your snake’s digestive system will break down the bedding enough for it to be passed out easily. However, it is important to check that any piece doesn’t get stuck in its mouth. You can easily pick those out, especially if you notice your snake yawning and rubbing its head against something as if trying to dislodge something.

What are some corn snake bedding alternatives?

Among other bedding alternatives for your snake is reptile carpet. However, it isn’t preferred because it doesn’t allow your corn snake to burrow. On the other hand, it is lower priced compared to other bedding options. It absorbs water well and allows waste and other harmful substances to breakdown. It is non-abrasive and doesn’t irritate your corn snake. A great reptile carpet option is the Hamiledyi Reptile carpet substrate. It is a durable, reusable, and washable carpet made from non-toxic coconut fiber material. It is soft, breathable, and very comfortable.

Why we like it:

  • It can be resized to fit your snake enclosure
  • It is easy to clean
  • It is made of anti-parasitic material, ensuring the enclosure is safe for your pet

In a nutshell, lining your corn snake’s enclosure with a substrate or bedding is crucial for your pet’s health. The above list may not be exhaustive, but it is a wonderful place to start. Good pet care and husbandry begin with getting the best substrate for your reptile buddy.

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