Do Corn Snakes Make Good Pets? What Do Corn Snakes Eat & How To Care For Them
Choosing your first pet snake can be a nerve-wracking process. Getting your pet and the equipment right the first time is the easiest way to ensure a long and happy relationship with your new reptile friend!
Nowadays there are varieties of snake species that are offered in just about any pet store. Some of you who want to own a snake is probably looking for the best small pet snakes for a beginning snake owner. You are perhaps looking for the snake that can survive in a minimal space. It may be true that there are snakes that would be difficult to take care due to their aggression, size and natural habit. However, there are also snakes that are perfect for the beginners.
Getting To Know Corn Snakes
The corn snake is one of the best small pet snakes for the beginners. It is sometimes called the ‘red-rat snake’ that is a forgiving and docile type of snake. This is definitely the choice of the starters since most of them have been raised in captivity. Choosing the corn snakes provides a lot of benefits. First, the high availability of the corn snakes makes it relatively simple to find it in your local pet shop. Due to the increased availability, it is also cheaper when compared to other varieties of snakes. Prospected pet owners also have an array of shades to choose from. You can also choose a corn snake with different color combinations such as brown, black, white, pinks, orange, and red.
Corn snakes can be found in the eastern United States as far north as southern New Jersey down to Florida, and as far west as Louisiana and Kentucky. Size-wise they are a good choice for new snake owners because they aren’t as thick and cumbersome as larger breeds. This can take away some of the intimidation for first-time owners.
Corn Snake Behavior And Temperament
These low-key snakes allow people to handle them and are generally docile. They like to burrow and hide, so a decent-sized enclosure and loose substrate (lining) on the bottom is key.
Like most snakes, corn snakes are excellent escape artists, so their enclosures should be secure. If a snake gets out of its cage it can get lost or hurt itself (and give a household visitor a good scare).
Corn snakes—again, like most snakes—are carnivores. In the wild, they stalk their prey primarily via smell rather than sight. And when they feel threatened, especially in the wild, they may vibrate their tail, similar to rattlesnakes, as a defense mechanism.
What To Feed Corn Snakes
After their first shed, baby corns are ready to be offered food. Try a single pinkie (newborn) mouse, not a rat, at first. A pinkie that’s less than five days old is enough of a meal for a 10- to a 12-inch snake. Lay the pinkie in the cage near wherever the snake is hiding, preferably without disturbing the snake in the process. Do not offer more than one item, do not drop the pinkie on top of a snake or place it inside the hide box (doing so may scare the snake).
Many young snakes will immediately eat previously frozen, thawed pinkies, but some will need a few feedings of live pinks to stimulate their interest. Under ideal digestive conditions, complete digestion will occur within two to three days. Optimal hatchling feeding is approximately one pinkie every five to seven days.
Corn snakes larger than 3 feet in length feed almost exclusively on larger mice, or small rats for extremely large specimens longer than 4½ feet. Food size should be such that the stomach bulge is noticeable, but not huge, after eating. The first defecation after the most recent meal comes two to four days after eating, depending on temperature. At that point, the snake is often interested in eating again, but it’s not necessary to feed large corns immediately after they defecate. In nature, corn snakes could easily spend the next week in search of food, receiving plenty of exercise in the process. One rodent every one to two weeks is a perfectly fine feeding regimen for most healthy adult corn snakes. A good general rule of thumb is to let all snakes rest—no handling or bothering them in any way—for three days after any meal.
Housing The Corn Snake
Picking a solid cage is a necessity for proper corn snake care. A 20-gallon long tank (a longer and shallower version of a 20-gallon tank) makes a good-sized cage for a corn snake. It is important to get a secure-fitting lid that can be clamped down for this tank as well. Corn snakes will push at the lid with their noses looking for weaknesses and tiny openings, so the fit of the lid is very important.
Provide hiding spots for your corn snake. A hide box (any closed-in container like a cardboard box will do) should be provided that is just large enough for the snake to curl up in; if it is too large the snake will not feel as secure. Pieces of bark can also provide hiding spots for your snake if it is on a substrate that allows it to burrow under the bark. Ideally, a hiding place should be available in both the cooler and warmer ends of the enclosure. Also, provide a branch for climbing.
Common Health Problems
Mouth rot, or infectious stomatitis, is a bacterial infection of the mouth that often causes saliva bubbles as well as inflammation in and around the mouth. If left untreated, this ailment can cause infection in the bone and the snake’s teeth may fall out.
As with most snake breeds, corn snakes are susceptible to fungal and respiratory infections. The former is marked by discoloration of the skin. A sign of respiratory infection is open-mouth breathing or wheezing. All of these health issues require treatment by a reptile veterinarian.