Scientific name: Pantherophis guttatus

Size: 3 – 5ft

Lifespan: 15 – 25 years

Wild Population: 20,000+

Primary Colour: Orange

Endangerment: Common

Habitat: South-East United States

Difficulty of Keeping: Easy

Optimum environment Temperature: 90°F hotspot with ambient temp of 80°F

What do they eat? Mice, Small Rats, birds and eggs.

Purpose: corn snakes roam corn fields in search for mice and other rodents. Corn snakes are a nuisance species when they overpopulate an area.

Eggs or Live birth: Egg baring snake.

Venomous: None venomous/ None poisonous

Are they kept in captivity? Corn snakes are the most kept snake in the world, due to their docile temperament and tolerance of handling.

Ease of keeping as a pet: among the easiest snake species to keep in captivity.

Cost: Ranges between £10 – £500 dependant on morph (colour)

What is a corn snake like as a pet?

Corn snakes give fantastic insight into what owning snakes is about.

Once you get your first corn, the snake bug hits and you find yourself looking for half of the amazon rainforest to come and live in your house!

The most kept snake in captivity for a reason.

They grow to a very manageable size, usually between 3 – 5ft.

Not particularly a heavy bodied snake makes them perfect for households with children.

Every corn snake has a unique character, 99% of which accept handling very well and check things out whilst you handle them.

Baby corn snakes are fast, it can be daunting how fast they can move.

With age corns slow right down around 6 months to 1 year old.

Their life expectancy is on average 15 years old, though some have been recorded having lived all the way up to 28.

Corn snakes are also great for experienced keepers or breeders also as they are very easy to care for and do not have any strict husbandry requirements

What you will need to set up a corn:

  • Vivarium
  • Thermostat
  • Heat source (heat bulb or mat)
  • Water dish
  • Substrate or bedding
  • Feeding Tongs
  • Decoration
  • The correct cleaning solutions

What Vivarium size do I need?

The first thing to think of is cage security.

Corns are escape artists, they can and will get out of unsecured terrarium.

A memorable way of securing the cage will save you the pain of having to go on a manhunt for the snake!

Between 3 – 12 months old, a plastic terrarium measuring around 2 ft will house a corn snake , I find it best to use these first due to being lightweight and very easy to clean.

To big of a housing space when young can cause stress for the animal, also finding a tiny corn snake in a 3ft vivarium can give many heart-dropping experiences assuming you have lost the snake.

Over 1 year old they are ready for a larger housing space, a 3ft (long) by 1ft (deep) vivarium will comfortable house them for the rest of their life. If you can afford or have the space for a bigger size cage corns will welcome the added room!

Thermostat second?

Yes! A thermostat is essential and must be included in your preparation of buying your corn, a heat mat or bulb left in a cage without regulating the heat is a recipe for disaster.

If using a heat mat, a Mat-stat is perfect for the job and available on amazon and in reptile shops for less than £20.

Heat bulbs are better suited to a “dimming stat” the reason for this is rather than turn on and off, it will reduce the amount of electric current going to the bulb causing it to become dimmer, hence the name. These are also on amazon for less than £40.

Note*  The number 1 reason for snakes needing veterinary attention is due to burns from their heating.

Choosing which heat source to use

For a juvenile snake in a heat mat works best, If you have a plastic terrarium the mat can be taped using heat tape to the bottom on the outside of the caging.

If using a heat mat for a wooden vivarium the mat must be place on the inside of the cage, pushing the cable through the ventilation, wood is too thick for the heat to penetrate through from the outside.

If consider a heat bulb for the cage, secure the lamp to the roof of the cage, ensure that a bulb guard is protecting the snake from meeting the bulb causing burns.

What size water dish?

A large enough water dish for your corn snake to bathe, allowing them to submerge their entire body underwater.

This is important, corn snakes soak themselves before shedding, loosening the dead skin.

Substrate/ Bedding.

Plenty of options are available for corn snakes, the most common 3 being aspen, newspaper and beech chip.

  1. Newspaper is the cheapest option of bedding; most can be obtained for free. Though cheap, it is not the greatest to look at and must be completely replaced when dirty.
  2. Beech chip is also great costs around £10 or less per bag. This is a better option for doing spot cleaning and not having to clean the whole cage. The downside is beech chip is not the most comfortable bedding.
  3. Aspen is a personal favourite among most hobbyists, there are so many positives, it looks great, spot cleaning is easy and finally it makes the housing look brilliant.

Corns do not require a high humidity level within their enclosure, in most areas over 40% is achieve without the need to add moss or spray the caging.

However, when your corn snake goes into shed, it will aid in the process to slightly increase the humidity within the vivarium. This will make it more likely to have a clean one piece shed.

Food and Feeding tongs

Another item that is always missed is feeding tongs, these are a must to keep you a safe distance from the snake come feed day.

For a corn snake, a small/medium set of tongs are ideal, the longer you get the more comfortable you will be feeding.

Do not attempt to handle the snake while food is defrosting as your tame corn snake will be completely different in hunt mode.

When young small pinkie mice are great and as they grow in girth, increase the size of the mouse that is being fed.

The best guideline is if the prey item is more the 25% bigger than the widest part of the snakes body, it is too big.

How often should I be cleaning my corn snakes cage?

Spot cleaning (poo picking) should be done as soon as possible, who wants to live next to that!

Full clean outs are best every month but occasionally going 2 months will not cause any harm if regular spot checks are done.

When cleaning the vivarium, do not use solutions such as bleach, this is potentially fatal to snakes if not completely wiped out.

It is best to stick with reptile safe cleaning solutions by far the best is F10 mix, this will last a lifetime.

It simply needs diluting using water and putting into a spray bottle.

Do corn snakes bite?

Corns can bite, though most are docile and tolerate handling very well. We use the word “tolerate” as a snake does not enjoy being handled, they just learn to accept it and becomes the norm.

This is why it is better to get a baby corn snake; this will allow the snake to get used to your scent and handling routine. Also, as they grow in size, you grow in confidence.

When a corn snake is defensive and strikes, this is usually due to the owner not going straight it and picking the snake up. Constant movement in front of their face mimics a bird trying to attack.

Go straight in (without startling the snake) and gently lift them out of the caging.

Taking a bite from a corn is not going to hurt, it feels like a nettle sting, this is because they have very thin teeth. More serve bites happen when the snake bites and you try pulling the snake off, this is due to corns have teeth that are reclined to the back of the mouth, so if you were to pull, their teeth will be dragged through the skin.

Snakes hold on when it is a food response, yes, they mistake your finger for food if they get whiff of rodents.

A defensive bite is a rapid strike with an immediate release, it is so fast you even move an inch. From this the puncture wounds from their teeth are so small they are barely visible.

Why is there so much blood on snake bite picture?

People post pictures of snake bites and lots of blood, but this is good thing. Snakes saliva causes our blood to go thinner for a short period, because of this the blood does not clot and stop bleeding for a few minutes. This is not enough to cause any harm but because of this it also pushes out any germs which makes getting an infection from a snake bite less like than other mammals.

Do i have to feed mice

Yes, mice are the most nutritious meal for a corn, there are other options such as baby rats and irregular chicks.

But to keep a corn snake, you will have to feed a small rodent. Live rodents do are not needed as frozen rodents are available from most local pet store or online.

If you cannot bring yourself to feed rodents, a better suited animal is a lizard such as a crested or leopard gecko, or even a Chinese water dragon.

Are they a poisonous species?

No, corn snakes are not poisonous, the correct term for a snake with toxicity in their fang is “venomous”. Poison is different to venom, if you were to drink poison you would die but if you ingested venom and there are no small cuts internally, the venom would do nothing.

Venom has to be injected or come in contact with a human’s blood stream, this explains why it is stored in the fangs of the snake. Once the skin is penetrated the venom is pushed into the blood stream and has a toxicity of different level dependant on the snake in question.

A corn snake is a constrictor and an opportunistic feeder, the time comes a corn snake will strike sinking its teeth into the prey item. Immediately the snake will throw coils of its body around and squeeze and constantly tighten and the prey exhales.

Corns have amazing power for its size, when handling, if the snake is startled or unnerved you will be able to get a small glimpse of just how powerful they can squeeze.

Snake have many small muscles which go down the body, this allows them to constrict heavily for long periods of time as the muscles do not fatigue as fast as they alternate between different ones to keep consistent pressure.

Are corn snakes Dangerous?

No corn snakes are not dangerous, there has never been a recorded human fatality from a corn.

That being said, anyone under 16 years who is not competent holding snakes should never be left unattended. This is more for the snake’s welfare than the handler.

What is a morph?

The term “morph” is thrown around a lot between reptile enthusiasts, to keep things simple, it is no more than different colours for the same snake, so a white snake is a different morph compared to a black one.

Breeders combine different colour phases to make more unique morphs (colours).

Closely related sub-species such as the rat snake is not a morph, this has slightly different genetics making it a completely different snake.

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