Are you planning on getting yourself or a loved one a pet corn snake? Are you worried about the type of habitat needed for its care? Well, don’t fret. We have the answers you’re looking for. Corn snakes are widely known as the best pet snakes for beginners and advanced reptile owners alike. They are beautiful and calm creatures that come in different varieties and are most suitable as pet snakes. They have ease of captivity and can live up to 20 or more years in captivity, provided they are treated right.
When taking care of your corn snake, the enclosure you choose plays a significant role in the health and well-being of your pet snake. It is crucial for your pet to have the freedom to move around comfortably.
How big should a corn snake’s enclosure be?
The size of a corn snake terrarium depends on the size of the snake. For hatchlings, a 10-gallon sized tank is convenient. As they grow bigger, however, a 20 to 40-gallon enclosure would be better suited. You can keep a baby corn snake in a smaller container and trade it in for a bigger one as it grows larger.
There is a general rule you can use to determine the minimum size for the enclosure, and it is:
- Length= snake length
- Width= half of the snake’s length
- Height= half of the length
This rule will help you determine the best corn snake enclosure size depending on the snake’s length.
1. Hatchlings and Baby corn snakes
Younger corn snakes can start in enclosures as small as 10-gallons in size. You might, however, need a bigger enclosure to suit their curious side. Baby corn snakes like to move around, so you might want to find something with a little more space for movement. Some owners opt for shoeboxes or vivariums to keep them in until they start growing.
Hatchlings and juvenile corn snakes will mostly hide away when they are small and vulnerable. This is due to their predator avoidance instinct that compels them to hide. Because of this, they will mostly avoid open spaces that leave them more vulnerable to attacks, especially for young and defenseless snakes. To help them, you can keep your baby corn snake in a tiny enclosure.
If you don’t have a small enclosure, you can opt for a bigger adult-sized enclosure. You can provide plenty of hiding spaces, like tiny shrubs and rocks, to accommodate their predator avoidance instinct.
2. Juvenile corn snakes
Juvenile corn snakes, those around three years old, will have grown by almost twice their size and will at that point be sexually mature. For them, a 20-30 gallon tank is best. A 12-inch wide, 30-inch long, and 12-inch height aquarium will suit a juvenile corn snake until they reach 18 inches in length.
At this age, they are more confident, and they will need more space in their enclosure and less hiding space. They also like climbing, so finding an enclosure with a lot of climbing materials will be an excellent way to accommodate climbing materials and encourage their health and muscle tone. Most keepers find that it is best to keep the snakes in a horizontally oriented tank rather than a vertical one.
3. Adult corn snakes
Adults will do well in a 40 to 75-gallon tank, depending on how big they grow to be. Using the general rule will help you figure out what corn snake enclosure size will best suit your pets, and when in doubt, go bigger.
Corn Snake Enclosure Setup
To ensure your corn snake’s enclosure is habitable, there are a few things that you can put in to make it homier. These things include heating, substrate, lighting, and so much more. A corn snake setup will help with the long-term health of your pet. This is because a good enclosure setup will protect them from risks like stress, respiratory illness, scale rot, dehydration, etc. For this reason, a proper enclosure setup is necessary. It will keep them healthy and happy for years to come. These things include:
- An enclosure: This could be a glass or plastic enclosure/cage or whatever you choose to house your snake in.
- Substrate: Substrate refers to the material put in the bottom of the cage.
- Heating: Snakes are cold-blooded and need something warm to keep them comfortable. There are many different heat sources, and we will look at some of them.
- Lighting: Daylight and nighttime settings are things that corn snakes are used to in the wild, and you should provide it for them even in captivity.
The enclosure you choose depends on what you are comfortable with. This could be a glass terrarium, a wood cage, a plastic enclosure, or a cage you can make yourself. If you are a beginner, it would be best to buy a cage for your reptile instead of constructing one yourself.
- Glass terrariums: These are cheap and readily available enclosures that you can buy from most pet stores. They have maximum visibility so you can see your pet at all times. They are also easy to heat; you can use a heat lamp on the lid. If you are using an under-the-tank lid, you will need to be careful as the glass can crack if it gets too hot. It can also be hard to control the temperature and humidity inside the cage as the screen lid can allow moisture and heat to escape.
- Plastic cages: Plastic cages are less fragile and can last longer than glass terrariums. They hold heat and humidity better than their counterparts because they are fully solid, with gaps or airspaces for airflow.
You can heat these enclosures from below using heat pads, and tapes and some of them have inbuilt lighting and heating to make things easier. They also offer more privacy compared to the glass terrariums, which is especially good for shy snakes.
Mesh or screen enclosures are also a good option for a corn snake enclosure. However, these options may not be the best choice because they do not hold heat, and your snake may hurt itself on the screen siding. The type of corn snake enclosure you get depends on your preference, but you should also consider the heating options available with each kind of enclosure.
You need to ensure that the enclosure size you choose for your snake is big enough to fit them and still leave enough room for them to move around. Preferably, use larger cages for your corn snake and fill the space with pet-friendly decor such as hides and branches.
Irrespective of the type of corn snake enclosure you choose, security should be among your top concerns. Corn snakes will escape if there are chances of escape, no matter how slim. They love exploring and will find any weak spot through which they might escape and do so. Finding a secure enclosure will keep them in their spaces at all times. Keep the top of the enclosure securely fastened.
Corn Snake Enclosure Requirements
For a corn snake enclosure to be habitable, there are some necessary requirements you need to incorporate. These requirements are important in supporting the overall health and well-being of your corn snake. The trick is to make the terrarium mimic the conditions found out in the wild that resonates with a corn snake’s natural habitat.
These requirements include:
Once you have settled on the type, size, and security of your corn snake’s enclosure, your next step is to find the perfect substrate. Substrate or bedding is the material used to line the bottom of the enclosure. There are various kinds of substrate you can use, including newspaper, cypress mulch, and others, to line your corn snake’s enclosure.
There are certain types of substrates you should avoid. These include pine shavings, cedar shavings, and aquarium gravel. Cedar and pine shavings contain oils that harm your pet over time, so it would be best to stay away from these.
Snakes are cold-blooded and cannot warm their bodies. They rely on external heat sources, hence it is important to put in a dependable heat source in the enclosure. You can use an under-the-tank heater or a basking lamp to provide warmth.
You also need to provide a thermal gradient atmosphere within the enclosure where one side is warmer than the other. The ideal temperatures range at about 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees on the cooler and warmer side, respectively. The gradient allows the snake to cool down or warm up as needed.
Heat lamps are also a good way to introduce heat into the terrarium. These lamps mimic the sun’s effects and warm both the air and the ground. Some of the lamps you can use include Halogen and incandescent heat bulbs, deep heat projectors, and ceramic heat emitters. Another efficient heating method you can use is heat mats. They produce IR-C heat, which makes them a good secondary source of heat. Use them with a thermostat for a more trackable and manageable effect.
Despite popular opinion, corn snakes need additional lighting, not just the natural cycle of day and night lights. They need a distinct cycle in captivity, and providing them with lighting specifically for their enclosure is good for their health. The lighting will help regulate their natural biorhythms and encourage natural behaviors.
Providing your corn snake with a seasonal light cycle, 12 hours daylight, and 12 hours nightlight will promote a natural hormonal rhythm which will result in overall health. Using fluorescent lighting that gives off UVB is beneficial for the mental and physical health of your snake. It also helps to bring their natural colors out. You may need to consider using a timer for the fluorescent lighting to save you the trouble of switching the lights yourself.
It is important to note that, when using UVB, ensure that the fixture doesn’t have glass or plastic protecting the bulb. Glass and plastic block UVB rays which render the bulb useless. Naked UVB lights are the most effective means of lighting.
The best humidity levels for corn snakes range between 65 and 75 percent. These humidity levels help maintain good respiratory health, facilitate proper shedding, and prevent dehydration. Corn snakes prefer areas with high humidity in the wild, and providing the same conditions in the enclosure promotes good health and reduces cases of dehydration.
Maintaining these humidity levels may be challenging to achieve, and most owners opt to use humidity-friendly substrates or water bowls. If these options do not work effectively, you can use the following methods to maintain the humidity levels:
- Moisture-retentive substrate: This means that dry substrates are out, such as aspen and lignocel. Moisture retentive substrates plus additional heating will produce the ideal humidity levels in the enclosure.
- Clean chemical-free leaf litter: Use this litter on top of your substrate. The litter will retain humidity and give your snake room to explore.
- Moist the enclosure: You can do this every day for maximum humidity. You can use a traditional spray bottle and mist the enclosure once in the morning and once again at night if necessary.
- Use a cool-mist humidifier: Schedule the humidifier to run in short bursts and only at night. Use distilled water and clean the unit with disinfectant at least once a week to prevent bacterial growth.
- Humid hide: Line the enclosure with moistened sphagnum moss to provide the needed humidity. Replace the moss regularly to avoid mold accumulation.
Corn Snake Enclosure Décor and Accessories
The use of decor and accessories in a corn snake’s terrarium is intended to make the space feel like its natural habitat out in the wild. Natural decor and accessories encourage your corn snake to behave naturally and assimilate better in a new home.
Corn snakes love hiding; therefore, it is important to incorporate hiding places in the enclosure. You can do this by putting in drip trays and litter boxes. The hides should be easy to clean and allow the snake to hide completely without being seen. Put them in both the warm and cool end of the cage, so they aren’t torn between temperature and security.
Although corn snakes are primarily terrestrial creatures, they also enjoy climbing. Baby snakes and juveniles especially love this kind of furniture as they spend a lot of their time climbing inside the enclosure. You can use fake plants since they are easy to clean and can withstand climbing better than real ones. You can also use fake or real branches. Remember to ensure the enclosure is secure enough so that they won’t be able to escape during their explorations.
Heavy water bowls
Snakes can use these bowls or dishes to soak and drink from, especially after shedding. Choose a heavy ceramic water bowl that doesn’t spill easily and fill it with fresh water regularly.
Some of the other accessories you can add include:
Ensure the hides do not crowd the enclosure and there is still space for your corn snake to move about comfortably.
Corn Snake Enclosure Cleanup
Corn snakes are relatively clean, and so the corn snake enclosure cleanup isn’t a difficult task. It is advisable to clean the water bowl and change the water at least twice a week. Cleaning ensures the corn snake has a bacteria-free space and adequate water throughout. Cleaning out food isn’t messy as the corn snake swallows their food whole. Remove any leftovers immediately. Read our piece on ‘What should I feed my corn snake?’ to learn about corn snakes feeding requirements.
Corn snakes excrete about once or twice a week; therefore, spot cleaning is easy. Look out for any droppings and pick them out immediately. It is important to also do a thorough cleaning monthly. During this time, you can relocate your corn snake, disinfect the enclosure and change the substrate. Proper pet husbandry practices are crucial for the survival and health of your corn snake.
FAQs about Corn Snake Enclosures
How big should a corn snake enclosure be?
The size of the enclosure depends on the corn snake’s size. Hatchlings and baby snakes can use a 10-gallon tank, and adult snakes can use an enclosure ranging from 40 to 75 gallons. The enclosure’s size will also depend on the decorations you plan to use. You want to make sure your pet has enough space to move around.
What is the minimum size tank requirement?
Hatchlings and baby snakes can use shoe boxes as their enclosures. With adult corn snakes, a 40-45 gallon enclosure can be enough.
Can corn snakes share a tank?
Most keepers don’t recommend sharing a tank with two or more snakes. However, if you let your corn snakes share a tank, make sure you only house adult snakes that are old enough to breed. Also, ensure you feed them separately so that the dominant snake doesn’t eat the other’s food. And add twice as many hides, so the dominant snake doesn’t possess all the best ones.
How often should I clean my corn snake’s enclosure?
You should spot clean your corn snake’s enclosure at least once a week to remove shed skin, feces, and water bowls. It is also advisable to thoroughly clean the enclosure at least once a month. Monthly cleaning will help rid the enclosure from harmful bacteria and provide a more habitable surrounding for your pet snake.
Your corn snake’s enclosure is their whole world, so it is important to provide the best one you can. The above tips will help you provide an appropriate enclosure space for your corn snake. A good enclosure space ensures your corn snake enjoys a stress-free existence, the ability to thrive and live longer.