Corn Snake Care: Species Overview
- Common Names: Corn Snake or Red Rat Snake
- Scientific Name: Elaphe guttata
- Distribution: Eastern to the Central United States
- Adult Size: 3’-6’
- Life Expectancy: 15-20+ years
Corn snakes are beautiful snakes with a gentle disposition. Over the years, captive breeding of this species has created a fantastic variety of color morphs that are now available to beginning hobbyists. Given the name “Corn” snake because they were commonly found in barns where corn was stored. They enjoy the shelter that barns create, and the mice and rats that are attracted to the corn.
Corn Snake Care: Habitat Set-Up
- Hatchling to juvenile corn snakes (under 2”) can be housed in a 10-gallon terrarium.
- Adult Corn snakes will need at least a 20-40 gallon terrarium. We recommend keeping corn snakes in an enclosure that is no shorter than half the length of the snake.
- A secure, lockable sliding-screen lid is essential for safely housing these snakes.
- Zoo Med’s ReptiHabitat™ 20 and 40-gallon terrariums are an excellent choice for Corn snakes.
- A Repti Shelter™ Habba Hut™ or Cork Bark will provide a secure hiding place to help reduce stress.
- Daytime Terrarium Temperature 75-79° F
- Basking Temperature 85-88° F
- Nighttime Terrarium Temperature 72-75° F
- Create a thermal gradient in your snake enclosure by placing a heat lamp and an Under Tank Heater on one side of the terrarium. Zoo Med’s Daylight Blue Reptile Bulb is an excellent choice for heating snake enclosures. By placing the heating elements on one side of the cage, you will naturally provide the proper thermal gradient.
- Any of Zoo Med’s thermometers will help you keep a close eye on terrarium temperatures.
- Keep all hides, such as a Rept-Shelter™ or Habba Hut™, on the cool end of the enclosure.
- An Under Tank Heater or ReptiCare® Rock Heater is essential to provide belly heat to your snake while it digests a meal.
- Snakes typically do not require UVB to meet their vitamin D requirements. However, many snakes receive UVB and sunlight in their natural habitat, and there is new evidence that they benefit from UVB lighting in captivity.
- Zoo Med’s NatureSun® fluorescent lamp can be used to illuminate your terrarium and bring out the full natural colors of your beautiful Corn snake.
- Corn snakes will do best on Zoo Med’s Aspen Snake Bedding™, Forest Floor™ cypress mulch, or ReptiBark®. We recommend a substrate layer of 2-3” in depth.
- Provide moistened New Zealand Sphagnum Moss in a Repti Shelter™ to create a humidity chamber. This chamber will help your snake loosen its skin before it sheds.
- Zoo Med’s Eco Carpet™ can be used as a safe, environmentally friendly, and easy-to-clean substrate.
About the Corn Snake
- The corn snake is mellow. These snakes like to burrow and hide, so a decent-sized enclosure and loose substrate (lining) on the bottom is key to comfort. The corn snake is generally docile and allows people to handle them.
- Like most snakes, corn snakes are excellent escape artists, so their enclosures should be secure. Finally, they stock their prey by smell rather than sight. And when they feel threatened, they may vibrate their tail, similar to rattlesnakes, as a defense mechanism.
Corn Snake Care: Diet and Nutrition
- Corn snakes can be fed mice exclusively and small rats throughout their lives. Rodents provide snakes with the needed calcium and vitamins. We recommend feeding only frozen/thawed rodents.
- Have fresh water available at all times. ReptSafe® Water Conditioner is an excellent choice for removing Chlorine and Chloramines from tap water.
- Zoo Med’s Corner Bowls are an excellent choice water bowl for all snakes.
- When choosing a food item for your snake, select a mouse/rat that is the same size, or slightly bigger than the girth of your snake.
- Hatchlings: Will eat one pinkie mouse per week.
- Juveniles: Will eat one hopper-adult mouse per week.
- Adults: Will eat one appropriately sized rat or two adult mice per week.
- Use caution when handling pets and remember they may bite or scratch (especially when stressed).
- Supervise children around pets.
- ALL ANIMALS can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans.
- Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
- Adults should assist children with handwashing after contact with a pet, its habitat, or aquarium water.