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Corn snake care

Most corn snakes for sale in the UK are bred in captivity. However, it's still important that the environment you keep your pet corn snake in mimics the wild as much as possible. Here's what to keep in mind if you're thinking of keeping a corn snake as a pet.

Corn snake hiding in vivarium

All about corn snakes

Healthy corn snakes flick their tongue frequently and have clear, bright eyes. Their skin should be smooth without blisters.

  • A corn snake's lifespan is around 10 to 15 years. If you're interested in buying or adopting a corn snake, make sure you're ready to provide the care they'll need for their entire life.
  • Corn snakes can grow to around 150cm long - female corn snakes usually grow larger than males. Monitor their health each day and ask your specialist reptile vet if you're concerned.

Setting up a vivarium for your corn snake

Here's what your corn snake's vivarium will need:

  • A vivarium that matches their length, allowing them to stretch out fully. The minimum width and height must be a third of their length. Make sure it's a secure and solid material that holds heat and will prevent escape.
  • A 'thermogradient' - which means placing a guarded heat lamp at one end of the vivarium while leaving the opposite end cool.
  • A basking zone - which should range from 28 to 30 degrees C, and the cool end 20 to 24 degrees C. Monitor temperatures daily using digital thermometers at each end.
  • UV lighting - you'll need to create a 'photogradient' that varies from light to shade. Fit a 2-7% UV tube at the hot end.
  • Don't forget to set day and night light patterns - consider using a timer and setting 12 hours light followed by 12 hours dark.
  • Humidity - a hygrometer measures the humidity, which should be around 40-50%, which is essential to keep your corn snake's skin healthy and prevent breathing problems. If it's too high, you'll need more ventilation.

What do corn snakes eat?

Mice should be your corn snake's most common food, but you can feed them other prey, such as suitably sized quails or rats. Make sure prey is thoroughly defrosted and the width is no greater than 1.5 times the widest part of the snake's body.

Handling a corn snake

Corn snakes can become used to regular handling. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Gently lift them with one hand underneath the snake near the head and another hand nearer the tail, but never grab them.
  • Safe handling is around 10 to 15 minutes - any longer and their core temperature will drop too low.
  • All snakes may bite under stress or if they smell food. However, corn snakes aren't venomous.
  • When threatened, corn snakes may pull their head back, displaying an 'S' shaped neck. If your snake does this, handle them another time.
  • Don't handle after touching prey items without washing your hands well before, otherwise, your snake may bite.

For lots more information on caring for your corn snake, read our corn snake care sheet.

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