How to Care* for Your Corn Snake
Corn Snakes (Pantherophis guttatus formerly classified as “Elaphe guttata”) are small, nocturnal, non-venomous snakes native to central and southeastern United States. They are generally 4’-5.5’ long, with the males slightly shorter than the females and can live for 20 years or more.
Corn Snakes in the wild are patterned with orange or red blotches on an orange, grey, or brown background. Selective breeding in the pet trade has yielded a wide range of coloration, the most common being a bright, deep orange. Corn Snakes are generally considered to be a beginner pet.
An appropriate sized enclosure for a single Corn Snake is generally a 20-gallon long tank (30”12”x12”). Corn Snakes enjoy twining around branches or sticks, so it’s essential that the enclosure has a lid to keep them from escaping and to keep other animals or curious children out. Corn Snakes may be kept on a newspaper or paper towel substrate for ease of cleaning. They may also be maintained on a cypress mulch or aspen shaving substrate, which they will particularly enjoy because they like to burrow. Cedar and pine shaving should not be used due to the toxic oils they contain. The enclosure must be cleaned regularly, though if a bioactive set-up is created, much of the cleaning will be carried out by scavenger bugs. Corn Snakes often hide during the day and require at least one hide placed on the hot side of the enclosure and one on the cooler side. A shallow water bowl should be provided that is large enough for the Corn Snakes to soak in if desired. Clean out the water bowl regularly, especially if they soil it.
Heating and Lighting
Corn Snakes are nocturnal, and consequently don’t require overhead lighting as long as the room in which they are kept has ambient light to distinguish night from day. They do require a “temperature gradient” from the hot side to the cool side. The temperature on the hot side should be around 85F. Some keepers achieve this by installing an under tank heater (UTH), and others do set up a basking spot with an overhead light. The UTH will require a thermostat or a rheostat to regulate the temperature. The cooler side of the enclosure should be 75-80F. The enclosure can get a bit cooler in the evening and can go down to the 60’sF. If the Corn Snake has difficulty shedding, supplemental humidity can be provided in one of the hides with a moist paper towel.
Food and Supplementation
Corn Snakes are carnivorous and primarily eat mice. Vary the size of the mouse with the size of the snake. Most Corn Snakes are fed a single frozen and thawed mouse every 1-2 weeks. If live prey is used, the snake must be supervised during feeding to ensure that it’s not harmed by the feeder. Although Corn Snakes should be able to obtain all their nutritional needs by ingesting the entire mouse, it’s a good idea to provide additional calcium, vitamin D3, and a variety of other vitamins and minerals by dusting the feeders with an appropriate supplement such as Repashy Supervite multivitamin and powdered calcium.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to Corn Snakes, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.