A beginner’s corn snake husbandry and care guide

A beginner's corn snake husbandry and care guide

The corn snake is by far the most popular first-time snake buyer’s choice.

Corn snakes are small, thin bodied and generally don’t get bigger than 5ft long. They will feed regularly, meaning they are easy to fit into your lifestyle and a routine. Corn snakes make good beginner pets because they are docile and they rarely present feeding difficulties or costly health problems. The set-up costs for corn snakes can vary, depending on your budget a vivarium kit can start at £30 but you also have to consider the upkeep costs of the substrate and other elements throughout your snake’s lifetime.

Like most reptiles, corn snakes have different requirements at different stages in their lives. A baby corn snake can be housed in a small vivarium around the size of shoebox, but as they get older you will need a bigger vivarium for your corn snake; this can be up to a 20-gallon tank. With snake tanks, the bigger the better – you want to give them enough space to move around and stretch their bodies to their full length.

It’s important to house only one corn snake per vivarium, to avoid territorial behaviour and seeing some cannibalistic traits coming through.

Vivarium requirements

As for the vivarium itself, you don’t need to supply an artificial light source. As long as there is natural light in the room that will illuminate the vivarium; your corn snake will be able to adjust to daylight hours and develop a routine for the nigh time. However, you have to be careful that direct sunlight does not shine into the tank; as this will increase the temperatures to an unbearable heat and can be fatal.

You will however need a heat pad, to go underneath the vivarium. This can be placed at one end, at the other end room temperate will surface for a ‘cool’ temperature. In the cool environment it’s a good idea to provide a long hide, made from a hollow log to be in keeping with a snake’s natural habitat. Regulating the temperature inside the tank will keep your snake happy. This can be done with a thermometer, the ideal temperature for a corn snake is between 24-30 degrees Celsius.

Top tip: When your snake comes to shedding it’s a good idea to add a bit of damp moss or some damp tissue paper to increase the humidity inside the tank. This moisture in the tank aids skin shedding in snakes. But be careful to remove this damp element after your snake has shedded, so not to create a build up of bacteria or mold.

Decorating your vivarium to replicate a corn snake’s natural habitat is important in reducing stress and keeping your corn snake feeling comfortable at all times. Starting with the correct size vivarium, you should add a substrate of aspen shavings. These are great for corn snakes because they like to burrow, they hold their shape and are relied on as an absorbent bedding compared to other choices, you must avoid aromatic wood shavings such as pine or cedar. You can decorate your corn snake’s tank with branches, a feeding dish as well as water bowl, plants and hides.

Feeding for corn snakes

Corn snake hatchlings will eat small pinkie mice, or new born mice. You can buy this type of mice from your local reptile supply shop, in frozen bulk packs. These can then be thawed in a sealed container the fridge over night or at room temperature for a few hours and given as a meal to your corn snake.

You will need to feed your corn snake, when it’s a baby every 5 to 7 days and as your corn snake matures to juvenile age, you will need to feed them every 7 to 10 days. As an adult corn snake, you should feed every 14-21 days.

Snakes, like most reptiles can be greedy and if left to their own devices they would eat every day if they could. But unfortunately, they don’t understand the health implications that come with eating more than they should. Obesity in snakes can become lethal and feeding on prey that is too big can lead to stress and regurgitation in snakes too.

When it comes to feeding time, you must keep your corn snake in its vivarium, as this is its comfortable territory, a place where it feels safe. Especially when your corn snake is young it’s important to establish a routine keeping your corn snake in its tank so not to cause unnecessary stress.

British Pet Insurance Services offers a range of exotic pet cover levels, insuring; lizards, snakes, tortoises, parrots, birds of prey and small mammals. With up to £5,000 vet fees and a range of optional extras, select the level of cover to suit your needs.

Get a quote today