CORN SNAKE Caresheet
6308 Monona Dr, Monona WI 53716
Common Name: Corn Snake
Scientific Name: Pantherophis guttatus
Origin: Southeastern US extending north to southern New Jersey and west to Texas
Size: 3-5 feet
Lifespan: 20+ years
You will find many ways on the internet on "how to" take care of this animal. This care sheet is showing the way we found works best for us from our many years of experience of breeding and caring for this species.
Corn snake babies can start out in enclosures as small as 10 gallons. At around a year old, you can increase the size. There are several kinds of enclosures that work for corn snakes, e.g., glass aquariums and any of the commercially available plastic-type reptile cages. For a yearling, step up to an enclosure that is at least 30" x 12" inches (like Zilla critter cage 20 Long) or go to the adult enclosure size. Adults do well in a tank at least 36" x 18" (Exo Terra Large, or Zilla 40 gal). If you use a glass tank, you will want to provide a humid hide--that is, a hide that has some damp moss in it for extra humidity. Multiple adult corn snakes can be kept in the same cage, just make sure you separate them before feeding so they don't fight over food. A shy corn snake will feel more secure if there is a place to hide, on both the cool and the warm side of the enclosure (more about that in the heating section).
Corn snakes are semi arboreal, so it's good idea to place a branch or driftwood piece inside your tank from them to climb on. They're also skilled escape artists. It's extremely important that your top is clipped or locked to the tank to prevent them from getting out. Especially as babies, they can squeeze out of the smallest spots.
You can use many types of bedding for your corn snake. The ones that look the best and help hold some humidity are Zilla jungle mix, Zoo Med eco earth, Zoo Med aspen and Zoo Med forest floor. Spot clean the bedding whenever they defecate. You should only need to clean the whole thing out about once a month. Disinfect the enclosure and change out the bedding at that time. Zoo Med wipe out or vinegar and water both work well for cage cleaning.
LIGHTING AND HEATING
Corn snakes originate from the southern US and they like it fairly warm, though they need to be able to cool off if they want to. Like all reptiles, they are dependent on external thermoregulation to control their body temperature. This essentially means you need to provide a hot and a cool side to your enclosure. All the lighting and heat elements should be on one side and the other will then be the cool side. Your corn can move back and forth between the different temperatures depending on its needs.
The hot side should be at 82-85 degrees. Put one hide there and another hide on the cooler side. The cool side can be between 75-80 degrees. At night, it can drop down to 72 ambient temperature. It's a good idea to use a basking light and an under tank heat pad also. The heat pads are usually placed on the hot side with a hide over it. We recommend a Zoo Med heat mat or Exo Terra heat pad that stays on 24/7 to give them a little bit of supplemental heat during the night. Both of these are placed on the outside, underneath the enclosure. You want a heat pad that only covers half the tank (or less). The basking light should be housed in a good quality light dome like Exo Terra and Flukers that has a ceramic housing to tolerate high heat and an on/off switch.
Use a good quality temperature gauge too, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras Thermometer. Don't guess at it. You can also use a rheostat and/or timers to control your heat source. We do not recommend the use of hot rocks. They have a tendency to heat unevenly over too small an area and can cause serious burns.
Keep a non-porous water bowl in with your corn snake and make sure they always have clean water.Exo Terras water bowls or Flukers water bowls are good decorative choices or a good ceramic crock dish. Scrub the bowl at least once a week to keep bacteria slime from building up. If you maintain a humidity level of around 50%, your corn snake will be able to shed properly. Hand misters are usually sufficient but if you don't care to remember to mist, an automatic mister like the Exo Terra monsoon or the Reptile fogger are nice options.
Do not handle your corn for several hours before you are going to feed it. We do recommend feeding in its own enclosure. Feeding in its home will not make your corn snake more aggressive or associate you with food. Corns are generally a very docile snake. If you are worried about your pet associating you with food every time you go to take it out, get yourself a good snake hook. Just hook your snake out of its enclosure when you want to hold it. Check out these hooks: collapsible hook for babies and larger hooks for adults. Using a snake hook when you take your corn out will greatly reduce the chance of you being bit from a feeding response. If you don't have a hook and are still worried about picking up your snake, don't come at him from the front. Reach around and pick your snake up from behind. That way your hand is not coming at his face.
1 rodent of appropriate size once a week. This means the girth of the rodent should not exceed the girth of the snake (at it's biggest point, not his neck size) Some people say you can give them rodents 1 1/2 times as big as the girth of the snake. However, we have found that corns eat better and tend not to skip meals if you don't exceed the its girth. Do not handle your snake for at least 24 hours after it has eaten.
Snakes in general tend not to eat when they are in shed. Just wait to feed until your corn sheds.
Corn snakes are one of the most popular pet snakes there are. The variety of colors and patterns found in corns is truly amazing. They are generally friendly and easy to care for.
When holding your pet, always remember to support your snakes body. Once a corn realizes that you will not hurt it, the snake often seem to enjoy being handled. Relax and give your corn time to get used to you. Avoid touching the top of your snake's head. Unless it knows and trusts you, touching the top of the head will cause it to jerk back away. The fast movement is called being "head shy" and tends to scare a lot of new snake owners. Most corns will get over it with gentle handling.
Give your corn snake at least a day to settle in to its new home before handling. Start slow and gradually increase the amount of time you have your snake out. Remember, your new pet's life is in your hands. So please take care of it properly.