Corn Snakes

ZENformation: Getting a Corn Snake?

Animal Care Manager Kasey includes the Corn Snake on her list of five favorite reptiles.

Q: Why do you consider the Corn Snake a favorite?

Kasey: “I think Corn Snakes make great pets because they are a very mild-mannered snake and caring for them is fairly simple!”

Q: What kind of family is good for a Corn Snake?

Kasey: “Corn Snakes can make a great addition for families with responsible children, as they rarely bite. They can be very good at escaping, so it is important to teach children how to keep the enclosure secure for the safety of their new pet.”

Q: What are the main characteristics of the Corn Snake?

Kasey:“Standard Corn Snakes come in colors ranging from bright orange to gray. They have patterns on their backs and sides that can be orange, red or brown and will have black borders around the colors. Their undersides are black and white checkered. Corn Snakes grow to be 3-6 feet long but tend to be much more slender than other pet snake species, topping out at a weight of two pounds.”

Q: What kind of environment do they live in?

Kasey:“Corn Snakes are endemic to the Southeast and Central areas of the United States, they are typically found in woodland and forested areas.”

Q: What do they eat?

Kasey:“Like all other snakes Corn Snakes are carnivores. A Corn Snake in the wild will eat prey animals such as smaller snakes, lizards, small rodents and even birds. You will want to feed your pet a diet of mice ranging from pinky mice for babies up to jumbo mice for full grown adults. The prey should measure less than 1.5 times the diameter of the snake’s body. Quail eggs can also be fed as an occasional treat.”

Q: What type of enclosure and accessories does a Corn Snake need?

Kasey:“Your new Corn Snake will need an enclosure, a substrate, something to bask on, two hides, water dish, UVA/UVB light, a basking light, a heater, two thermometers, and tank décor. A minimum size enclosure would need to measure at least 36”x18”x12”, but your pet would be much happier in a larger enclosure. I think a 4’x2’x2’ enclosure would be best.

Q: What kind of substrate works best?

Kasey: Corn Snakes enjoy burrowing so providing a substrate like cypress mulch, coconut fiber or orchid bark can be a great way to mimic your snake’s natural habitat.”

Q: What do they need for heating?

Kasey: Corn Snakes need to be provided with a heat gradient just like other reptiles. This should include a cool zone of around 75°F, ambient (air) temp of 78-82°F and a basking surface of around 90°F. Nighttime temps should not fall below 68°F. If you have trouble keeping the enclosure above that temperature you can use a ceramic heater as a supplemental heat source.”

Q: What lighting is best for the Corn Snake?

Kasey:“UVB/UVA light is required for all reptiles. Your Corn Snake can be kept on a 12 hours on and 12 hours off light cycle. Corn snakes are also excellent climbers, so I suggest keeping lighting outside of the enclosure so that your new pet does not burn themselves.”

Q: What should the humidity level be in their enclosure?

Kasey: Their enclosure should be kept at 40-50% humidity. This can be achieved by daily misting, a misting system, or placing a heavy bowl of water over an under-tank heater.”

Q: What should the Corn Snake have for stimulation?

Kasey: Décor should include branches to climb, two hides (one on the warm side and one on the cool side), plants (either artificial or real), a shallow heavy bowl for water. Your enclosure will also have to be very secure as these guys are known escape artists.”

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add about the Corn Snake?

Kasey:“There are two theories of where their name came from. The first is that the patterns on their sides and back look like kernels of maize or Native American Corn. The second theory is that when the settlers came, they kept finding Corn Snakes in their crops and thought the snakes were eating the corn. They were eating the rodents that were eating the corn and actually helping the farmers!”

Zen Habitats offers a variety ofenclosures andaccessories to suit your reptile, no matter the species. We would love to help you select the right enclosure setup for you and your pet! Email or call 781-755-8008.