Corn Snake Care

Corn Snake. Image credit: Stephan Muth

Image credit: Stephan Muth

Scientific Name: Pantherophis guttata guttata

Corn Snakes are a small North American species rat snake which are available in a huge variety of colours & patterns (known as morphs), they are very simple to maintain, making them a great first time snake.

Sexing and Characteristics:
There are several ways of sexing a snake but the main ones are popping & probing, both of these ways are reliable with probing being the most accurate. Please note that while probing can done at any age, popping is only suitable for young animals.
If you need your snake sexed, make sure this gets done by a professional.

 

Size:
Generally Corns reach between 3-5 ft, but they can reach 6ft with the males remaining marginally smaller than females.

Substrate and Water Needs: 
For bedding you can use a variety of things, Pine & Cedar are to be avoided as these are toxic to reptiles. You can use newspaper or paper towel which are cheap but not very appealing.Paper is another option, this is clean, cheap and very hygienic. Aspen, Auboise or similar is your best bet, there fairly cheap and look good.
You will need a fair sized water bowl, one the snake can submerse its body in.

Lighting and UVB: 
Corn Snakes have no special lighting requirements but if you do use a basking bulb, please ensure the light has a bulb guard to avoid your snake from being burned

Temperatures & Humidity:
Your Corn should be kept at temperatures between 24 – 28°C.
To achieve these temperatures several heating devices can be used such as:

  • Heatmats (Not advised for bigger snakes)
  • Basking/Infrared Bulbs
  • Ceramic bulbs

The choice of heating system used is a matter of personal choice, however in ALL cases, a thermostat should be used in conjunction with the heater, in order to avoid burns to the animal, and danger of fire.

Corn Snakes humidity should be around 40-50% which can be increased whilst shedding.
A moss box can be provided when they are shedding to help assist them.

  •  If help is needed choosing heating/thermostat options, please do not hesitate to contact the Herpetological Society of Ireland & we will guide you in the right direction.

Housing: 
An adult Corn Snake can be housed in a 3ft x 2ft x 2ft vivarium.
Young Corns are best kept in small tubs, with secure hides as they may become stressed go off feeding if they feel insecure.
Provide them with 2 hides, one in the hot end & one in the cool end, an appropriately sized water bowl should also be provided.
Older Corns can be housed in 50L tubs or a 3x2x2ft vivarium if big enough.

Diet:
Carnivorous  – Appropriately sized rodent prey.

Description of Diet: 
Young Corns are able to take Pinky mice on their first feed.
You should be able to start feeding your snake on Pinkies but if they are on the smaller side then very small pinkies or rodent tails would be ideal. You may feed them every 5 to 7 days at this point.
As the snake grows it will need larger prey items. You will know when they need to go up a size once you can’t see the food item in their belly anymore.
Older snakes should be fed on an appropriately sized meal every 2 weeks to avoid becoming overweight.

Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:
Generally supplements are not needed but some feel that calcium should be used for breeding females to help the production of eggs, to replace the females’ calcium levels & prevent them from becoming egg bound.

Maintenance:
They are very easy snakes to keep & come in an amazing variety of colour mutations (known as morphs) making them attractive to look at, they are also very affordable which makes them good first time pet snakes.

Water should be changed every 1-2 days, the vivarium spot clean every 2-3 days, and clean them out properly every 1-2 months, using an appropriate disinfectant.
Handling your Corn should help keep them calm & easy to handle.
Sometimes young Corns will tail rattle or hiss in order to scare a ‘predator’ this is often a warning. If you have a nippy one, don’t let it put you off, they calm down easily.

Some Words on this Species:
Corn Snakes are a popular first snake due to their attractive colours, manageable size & low maintenance, being very easy to keep but as with most snakes can have long life spans, so be prepared to take care for an animal for the rest of its life.

Caresheet Courtesey of The Herpetological Society of Ireland 2009

Featured Image courtesy of Stephan Muth

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