Corn Snake Care Sheet: The Complete Guide

In my opinion, Corn Snakes are the best snakes to own for beginners, you just need the right information to properly keep and care for these captivating reptiles.

In this article, I’ll provide a concise guide delving into the key aspects of Corn Snake care, including;

  • Terrarium Requirements
  • Dietary Requirements
  • Cleaning Schedules
  • Proper Handling

Species Overview

Corn Snakes (Pantherophis Guttatus) are semi-arboreal reptiles native to areas in the Southeastern United States, the Cayman Islands, and, Mexico.

Overview
Lifespan10-30 Years
Adult Length3’-6’
Adult Weight3lb
DietRats and Mice
VenomousNonvenomous

Terrarium Requirements

In this section, I’m going to break down all of the requirements needed to house Corn Snakes safely and correctly. 

Terrarium Size

When selecting the right terrarium for your Corn Snake, you’ll need to take into account their size and age to ensure you’re providing the best possible habitat for them.

Younger Corn Snakes require a more compact and full enclosure to make them feel secure and safe from predators. 

Adults are more lenient with the space they have, and they’ll be more adventurous and climb branches and rocks if given the opportunity.

AgeLengthWeight
Hatchling8” – 12”5 – 10 Grams
(Juvenile) 6 Months1.6’ – 2.5’24 – 30 Grams
(Juvenile) 12 Months2.5’ – 3.3’30 – 100 Grams
(Adult) 24 Months +2.5’ – 6’Up to 1000 Grams
  • Hatchling/Juvenile: 20-40 Gallon Terrarium (36 x 18” x 18”)
  • Adult: 120 Gallon Terrarium (48” x 24” x 24”)

Pro Tip: The bigger the enclosure you can provide an adult Corn Snake, the better. They’re active snakes so will constantly explore.

Terrarium Lighting

When it comes to lighting, the easiest thing to do is follow a 12-hour light on and off schedule to assist your Corn Snake in a day/night routine.

If you live in areas where Corn Snakes are native, I recommend mimicking the sun’s rising and setting cycle.

You can adjust your lighting with automatic timers to allow your snake to adjust accordingly and more naturally. As opposed to having to wake up at daybreak yourself (Which I personally wouldn’t want to do).

The use of UVB lighting isn’t necessary for Corn Snakes to survive, however, there have been studies showing evidence of UVB exposure benefiting their well-being. Because of this, I always provide UVB exposure to my Corn Snakes.

Fun Fact: The name Corn Snake may have originated from the markings on this snake’s belly, which resemble maize, or Indian corn.

Terrarium Temperature & Humidity

You’ll want to provide your Corn Snake with a temperature gradient throughout their enclosure to best replicate their natural habitat. 

You can achieve this by having three sections; cool, warm, and, basking. This can be achieved with these temperatures:

Cool Side: 75°F – 82°F (24°C – 27°C)

Warm Side: 80°F – 85°F (26°C – 29°C)

Basking Side: 88°F – 92°F (31°C – 33°C)

The humidity levels should range between 40% – 50%.

You can monitor temperature and humidity levels by using a digital thermometer and humidity gauges.

Remember: Corn Snakes are hardy snakes and these ranges are a guide to follow, it’s perfectly fine for them to fluctuate for short periods of time. It’s only a concern if they’re below or exceeding these levels for extended periods of time.

Decoration

Decorating your Corn Snakes enclosure isn’t just to make it look nice, it’s to benefit them also. Corn snakes enjoy hiding away in tight areas, underneath rocks, in logs, and being able to climb branches. 

This is known as environmental enrichment and is paramount for your pet’s overall health and well-being.

Pro Tip: The tighter the hide spot the better. Corn Snakes feel safest when all of their body is touching whatever object they’re inside.

Substrate

When it comes to Corn Snakes, I recommend choosing loose particle substrates. They’ll constantly burrow into it providing them with enrichment.

I recommend these 3 loose particle substrates in particular due to their ability to retain humidity and prevent odors, and they’re easy to clean and replace.

You’ll want the depth of the substrate to be a minimum of two inches thick to allow them to really get in there and make themselves comfortable. 

Dietary Requirements

In my opinion, Corn Snakes are one of the easiest reptiles to feed and maintain a routine feeding schedule. They’re not fussy eaters and will be happy with rats and mice for the entirety of their lives.

I recommend feeding your Corn Snake once every 7 – 10 days. The more you get to know your pet, you’ll be able to judge if the schedule needs altering depending on their weight gain/loss.

You should always feed frozen thawed prey to your snake, offering live prey to them poses health risks to your snakes through scratching and biting. Also, it’s just unnecessary stress to the prey before they’re eaten. So in my experience, I like to keep it as humane as possible.

Pro Tip: The size of the prey should be equal to or slightly bigger than the largest width of your Corn Snake.

How To Feed Your Corn Snake

You’ll need to prepare the frozen food for your pet, it isn’t as easy as throwing in a frozen rat into the enclosure. 

  1. Remove the meal from the freezer the night before feeding day
  2. Place in Ziploc bag
  3. Submerge in warm water to heat temperature to 98°F – 100°F 30 minutes before feeding
  4. Use tongs to offer the meal to your Corn Snake safely

Cleaning Schedule

Conduct spot checks daily for feces and urine, to prevent mold and bacteria from building up within the enclosure.

Substrates within the enclosure will need to be replaced monthly, and the terrarium cleaned with reptile-safe cleaning products like Flukers Super Organic Cleaner.

When & How To Handle Corn Snakes

The age of your Corn Snake will alter the way you should handle them. Hatchlings are naturally nervous and will more likely defend themselves, because of this I recommend waiting a couple of weeks before handling.

The older they get, the more calm their temperament becomes and they’ll be quite happily held and climb and wrap themselves around you comfortably.

The only times you shouldn’t handle your Corn Snake is 2 – 3 days after they’ve been fed. This is because it could lead to regurgitation and potentially kill your beloved pet.

Follow these 5 steps to handle your Corn Snake safely:

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Slowly but confidently approach your Corn Snake from the side and NOT from above because they may mistake you for a predator
  3. Lift from the mid part of their body with confidence and purpose, bringing them to your body
  4. Allow your snake to slither around your arms wherever you and your pet feel comfortable
  5. Keep handling sessions short, 5 – 10 minutes whilst building the bond between you and your Corn Snake which after time can be lengthened to 30 minutes

Summary

Corn Snakes are a fantastic choice for beginners to own, as they offer captivating beauty and relatively simple care requirements. 

By following the information provided in this article, you’ll create a thriving environment for your Corn Snake companion, enjoying their presence for their potential lifespan of 10 to 30 years. 

With proper care and attention, your journey with these snakes promises to be rewarding and fulfilling.