A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding Corn Snakes

If you’re fascinated by these remarkable reptiles and considering adding a Corn Snake to your household or simply want to learn more, this post is for you.

In this post, we will cover everything from their appearance, various morphs, and size, to their temperament, emotions, and social preferences.

We’ll also delve into the practical aspects of raising a Corn Snake, such as handling, feeding, and housing requirements, as well as common health problems and how to avoid them.

After reading this blog post, you’ll be well-equipped with the knowledge and confidence to care for a Corn Snake.

Corn Snake Appearance

Corn snakes have smooth, glossy scales that form a striking pattern of reddish-orange or brownish-yellow splotches edged in black. The design on their back bears a resemblance to corn kernels, giving them their unique name.

Corn snakes have a distinctive head shape that is slightly wider than their neck. Their eyes are large and round, with vertical pupils.

Corn Snake Morphs

Captive breeding has produced a wide variety of morphs, which are snakes with different color patterns.

Here are some common morphs:

  • Amelanistic: This morph lacks the black pigment melanin, resulting in a snake with bright orange or red markings on a white or yellow background.
  • Anerythristic: This morph lacks the red pigment erythrin, resulting in a snake with gray or brown markings on a white or gray background.
  • Hypo: This morph is a type of amelanistic, but with reduced color intensity. Hypo corn snakes have pastel-colored markings on a white or yellow background.
  • Caramel: This morph has a warm brown or caramel coloration with darker brown or black markings.
  • Snow: This morph is a combination of amelanistic and anerythristic, resulting in a snake with white or gray markings on a pink or lavender background.
  • Lavender: This morph has a pale purple or lavender coloration with darker purple or black markings.
  • Motley: This morph has a striped or blotchy pattern, rather than the typical corn snake saddle pattern.
  • Stripe: This morph has a thin stripe running down the length of its body, rather than the typical saddle pattern.

Some morphs may be rare or expensive due to their unique characteristics.

Corn Snake Size (By Age & Growth Rate)

Hatchling Corn Snakes: When a corn snake hatches, it is usually around 8-12 inches in length. These snakes are notably small and delicate, and they require special care to thrive.

Hatchling corn snakes should be kept in a small enclosure with plenty of hiding places and a heat source to keep them warm.

Juvenile Corn Snakes: As a corn snake grows, it will go through several stages of development. Juvenile corn snakes are typically between 12-24 inches in length. During this phase, the snake’s activity levels will rise, necessitating a more spacious enclosure to move around.

Adult Corn Snakes: Once a corn snake reaches maturity, its length typically ranges from 24 to 72 inches. An adult corn snake’s dimensions can vary due to multiple factors, such as genetics, diet, and environment. However, most adult corn snakes will fall within this size range.

Corn snakes typically reach their full size by the age of 2. Females generally surpass males in size, and snakes that are well-fed and properly cared for will grow faster.

Corn Snake Temperament

Corn snakes are known for their good temperament and make fantastic beginner pets. In most cases, they are calm and easily managed. They may become stressed or anxious in certain situations.

Corn snakes are not aggressive animals, and they will rarely display aggression toward their owners. They are timid and will try to avoid confrontation if possible. However, if they feel threatened, they may attempt to bite as a defense mechanism. It is essential to handle your corn snake with care and respect to avoid triggering this behavior.

Corn snakes are known to be great escape artists, so ensure that their enclosure is secure to prevent them from escaping. They may become stressed and anxious if they escape their enclosure, which can lead to health issues.

Do Corn Snakes Like to be Alone?

Corn snakes are solitary creatures and prefer to be alone. They do not require social interaction and can become stressed or agitated when housed with other snakes.

In the wild, corn snakes tend to be more active during the night, and take refuge in burrows or beneath rocks throughout the day. They are not known to form groups or socialize with other snakes. In captivity, it is best to provide a single corn snake with its enclosure to ensure its comfort and well-being.

While corn snakes do not require social interaction, they do benefit from environmental enrichment. Providing hiding places, climbing structures, and other forms of stimulation can help keep them active and engaged. A well-designed enclosure can also help reduce stress and promote overall health.

What Emotions Can Corn Snakes Feel?

Corn snakes are not capable of feeling emotions like happiness, sadness, or love. They do not possess the same brain structures as mammals that handle emotional processing. However, they do experience a fundamental set of emotions, such as fear, stress, and aggression.

When a corn snake feels threatened or stressed, it may hiss, strike, or coil up to protect itself. These behaviors are signs that the snake is feeling scared or stressed and is trying to defend itself.

When a corn snake is relaxed and comfortable, it may extend its body and enjoy basking in the warmth of its surroundings.

Corn snakes are not capable of feeling emotions like jealousy or spite. They rely on their inherent instincts to survive and flourish in their environment.

How Often Do You Need to Handle a Corn Snake?

Handling your corn snake once or twice a week is enough to keep them tame and healthy. Over-handling can cause stress, which can lead to health problems and a decreased lifespan.

When handling your corn snake, make sure to approach them slowly and calmly. Sudden movements or loud noises can startle them and cause them to become defensive. Also, avoid handling your snake when they are shedding or has just eaten, as this can cause discomfort and stress for your pet.

Corn snakes do not require social interaction for their mental health. Handling them is more for the owner’s enjoyment and to keep the snake tame. If you do not have the time or desire to handle your corn snake regularly, that is perfectly fine.

Is it OK to Touch a Corn Snake Head?

The answer is yes, it is generally safe to touch a corn snake’s head. Just do so gently and with caution. Corn snakes have a sensitive sense of touch, and touching their head too roughly can cause them discomfort or even pain.

When handling a corn snake, make sure to support its entire body, including its head. Avoid pinching or squeezing their head, as this can cause them to feel threatened and may result in defensive behavior, such as biting. Instead, use a gentle touch and be mindful of their body language.

Corn snakes, like all snakes, have sharp teeth. While their bite is generally not harmful to humans, it can be painful and may cause bleeding. To avoid being bitten, always handle your corn snake with care and respect.

Do Corn Snakes Recognize Their Owners?

There is no clear evidence to support the claim that Corn Snakes recognize their owners, many experts believe that they can recognize familiar individuals based on their sense of smell and ability to learn patterns.

Corn Snakes are known for remarkable olfactory abilities, which they use to detect prey. They can detect pheromones and other chemical signals, which helps them recognize familiar individuals. Therefore, it is possible that your Corn Snake can recognize you based on your scent.

Furthermore, Corn Snakes are intelligent creatures that can learn and remember patterns. If you handle your snake regularly, it will become accustomed to your touch and may associate you with positive experiences, such as feeding or handling. This could lead to your Corn Snake recognizing you as its owner.

Corn Snakes are not social creatures and do not develop strong relationships with their owners as dogs or cats do. Therefore, even if your Corn Snake recognizes you, it is unlikely to show affection or loyalty towards you.

Can 2 Female Corn Snakes Live Together?

It is generally recommended to keep corn snakes separately.

If you still want to keep two female corn snakes together, it may be possible, but there are some important factors to consider.

  • Firstly, ensure that both females are approximately of equal size. If one is significantly larger than the other, it may result in aggression and stress. Additionally, confirm that both snakes are in good health, devoid of parasites, and have no symptoms of illness.
  • When housing two female corn snakes together, provide a spacious enclosure with plenty of hiding places, climbing branches, and multiple feeding areas. This will help to reduce any potential conflicts and stress between them.
  • Monitor their behavior closely. If you notice any signs of aggression or dominance, such as biting, hissing, or chasing, it might be crucial to separate them immediately.

Can a Male and Female Corn Snake Live Together?

Corn snakes prefer to live alone. Even though a male and female corn snake could potentially share a single enclosure, it is not recommended. Here’s why:

Breeding: A male and female corn snake will breed if housed together. This may result in unplanned offspring, making it challenging to provide proper care and locate suitable homes for them. If you do want to breed corn snakes, it’s best to house them separately and introduce them only during the breeding season.

Stress: Corn snakes can become stressed if housed with another snake, even if it’s of the opposite sex. This may cause health issues, such as a weakened immune system or difficulties in shedding their skin. It’s important to provide each corn snake with its enclosure to reduce stress.

Aggression: Male corn snakes can be aggressive towards female corn snakes, especially during the breeding season. This might result in injuries or even death. It’s best to keep male and female corn snakes separate to prevent aggression.

Cannibalism: Corn snakes are known to eat other snakes, including their species. If you house a male and female corn snake together, there is a risk that one may eat the other.

How Long Do Corn Snakes Live in Captivity?

Generally, corn snakes can survive for 10-15 years in captivity when given appropriate care.

In their natural habitat, corn snakes usually have a reduced lifespan of about 6-8 years due to factors like predators, illnesses, and loss of habitat.

To guarantee your corn snake enjoys a lengthy and healthy life, it’s important to provide them with a suitable enclosure, adequate nutrition, and regular veterinary check-ups.

Here are some factors that can affect the lifespan of your corn snake:

  • Enclosure: Corn snakes require a spacious enclosure with proper heating and lighting to thrive. A proper enclosure should ensure a temperature gradient fluctuating from 75-85°F on the cool section and 85-90°F on the warm section. The enclosure should also have a hiding spot, water dish, and suitable substrate.
  • Nutrition: Corn snakes are carnivorous and require a diet of mice or rats. Feed your corn snake appropriately sized prey items and avoid overfeeding or underfeeding.
  • Veterinary Care: Regular veterinary check-ups can help identify any health issues early on and ensure your corn snake is receiving the proper care.

How Much Does a Corn Snake Cost?

The initial cost of purchasing a corn snake can vary significantly depending on factors such as age, size, color, and pattern.

Hatchlings or juvenile corn snakes usually have a price range of $30 to $60, while adults can vary from $50 to $200. Rare morphs, characterized by distinctive colors and patterns, may demand higher prices, sometimes reaching up to $1,000 or more.

Apart from the snake’s cost, you’ll need to invest in an appropriate enclosure and essential equipment. A basic setup, including a tank, heating pad, thermometer, and hides, may cost around $100 to $300.

As your snake grows, you may need to upgrade to a larger enclosure, which could increase the expense.

Ongoing costs for maintaining a corn snake include food, bedding, and veterinary care.

Corn snakes primarily eat frozen-thawed rodents, such as mice and small rats. Depending on your snake’s size, anticipate spending around $5 to $10 weekly on food.

Bedding, such as aspen shavings or coconut husk, should be replaced regularly and can cost about $20 to $40 per month.

Routine veterinary check-ups are essential for ensuring your corn snake remains healthy. While corn snakes are generally hardy animals, they can still develop health issues, such as respiratory infections or parasites.

An annual check-up with a certified reptile veterinarian can cost between $50 and $100, while any health problem treatment could result in extra costs.

How Much Sleep Does a Corn Snake Need?

On average, corn snakes will sleep for 8 to 14 hours per day. However, baby corn snakes require more sleep for their development and may sleep for up to 20 hours per day.

Corn snakes are nocturnal creatures. This means they may sleep during the day and be more active at night. You should provide your corn snake with a quiet and dark environment during the day to encourage them to sleep.

  • Provide a cozy hiding spot: Corn snakes require a hiding spot to feel secure and comfortable. You can use a hide box or a piece of cork bark to create a cozy hiding spot.
  • Keep the enclosure dark: Corn snakes prefer a dark environment. You can use a dark-colored substrate or cover the enclosure with a dark cloth to create a dark sleeping environment.
  • Maintain a consistent temperature: Corn snakes require a consistent temperature to sleep comfortably. You should keep the enclosure’s temperature approximately 75°F during daytime hours and roughly 68°F during nighttime hours.

What Do Corn Snakes Eat?

As carnivores, corn snakes consume other creatures for nourishment. In the wild, corn snakes are opportunistic predators, consuming a wide range of prey species.

Including Rodents (including voles, mice, rats, chipmunks, and squirrels), birds (and their eggs), frogs, and lizards.

In captivity, it is typically best to feed your corn snake a rodent-based diet. They are constrictor snakes, meaning that they catch their prey and squeeze it. Even if you are feeding your snake dead rodents, you may want to give your snake the feeling that it is catching its food.

Corn snakes have a high metabolism, so they need to eat frequently. These snakes typically feed every few days. Hatchlings eat diminutive animals like lizards and tree frogs, while adult corn snakes feed on larger prey, such as mice, rats, birds, and bats.

How Often Do You Feed a Corn Snake?

Baby corn snakes need to eat more frequently than adult snakes. You should feed your baby corn snake one prey animal, such as a pinkie mouse, every 5-7 days. As your snake matures, you can slowly adjust the prey size and duration between meals.

Provide food for young corn snakes every 7-10 days, while adult corn snakes should be fed every 10-14 days. The precise feeding routine relies on your snake’s size and weight.

As a general rule, you should feed your corn snake prey that is about 1.25 times the size of your snake at midbody. This should create a subtle, yet distinct bulge in your snake’s body.

It’s important not to overfeed your corn snake, as obesity can lead to health problems.

Feeding Tips

  • Always use tongs to feed your snake, as this will prevent accidental bites.
  • Thaw frozen prey in warm water before feeding it to your snake.
  • Never feed your snake live prey, as this can be dangerous for both the snake and the prey animal.
  • After feeding, give your snake at least 24 hours to digest its food before handling it.

Do Corn Snakes Lay Eggs Without Mating?

Yes, corn snakes can lay eggs without mating. Corn snakes can produce so-called “slugs,” which are essentially immature embryos that cannot be fertilized and will not hatch.

Not all eggs laid by a female corn snake will be fertile. If she has mated with a male, the eggs may be fertile and will have the potential to hatch into baby corn snakes.

In the wild, female corn snakes typically lay their eggs in rotting stumps, piles of decaying vegetation, or other similar locations with sufficient heat and humidity to incubate the eggs. After laying the eggs, the female snake will leave them to incubate on their own.

How Long is a Corn Snake Pregnant?

On average, a healthy Corn Snake will be pregnant for between 4 and 8 weeks. This period runs from the time of mating to the time of laying eggs.

After mating, the female Corn Snake will go through a preparational shedding, and she will begin to lay eggs one or two weeks later. During this time, it’s crucial to provide a secluded and humid place for your female to lay her eggs.

After the eggs have been laid, they require around 8 weeks for incubation. It’s essential to retrieve the eggs gently and place them in a suitable incubator to ensure successful hatching.

How Many Eggs Do Corn Snakes Lay?

On average, a female corn snake can lay anywhere from 10 to 30 eggs in a single clutch, with some exceptional cases of up to 50 eggs. The clutch size can be affected by the female snake’s size and age, as larger and older snakes typically lay more eggs compared to younger and smaller ones.

Being oviparous, corn snakes lay eggs instead of delivering live offspring. After mating, the female corn snake will lay its eggs approximately 30 to 45 days later. The eggs are usually laid in a warm and humid environment, such as a nesting box or a suitable substrate.

Not all eggs laid by a female corn snake will hatch successfully. Some eggs may be infertile or develop abnormalities, while others may not be incubated properly.

What Size Tank for Corn Snakes?

A 20-gallon tank is usually adequate for most mature corn snakes, whereas a 40-gallon tank is advisable if you’re housing two adult snakes.

If you’re getting a baby corn snake, you should house it in a smaller container or terrarium until it grows larger. Too much room might stress out your corn snake.

3 factors to consider when choosing the right size tank:

  • Body length: The size of your corn snake directly influences the minimum required size of its tank. The vivarium should be spacious enough to allow the snake to stretch out fully.
  • Maturity: As your snake grows, it will need a larger tank. When your snake hits adulthood, typically around the age of 1.5 to 2 years, you will need a tank size of at least 20 to 30 gallons.
  • The number of snakes: If you’re caring for more than one corn snake, you will need a larger tank to provide them adequate space.

Do Corn Snakes Need a Heat Lamp?

Yes, Corn Snakes need a heat lamp to regulate their body temperature and maintain their health.

As cold-blooded animals, Corn Snakes rely on external sources of heat to keep their bodies functioning properly. Without a heat lamp, they can become lethargic and even develop respiratory infections.

When choosing a heat source for your Corn Snake, there are a few options available. A heat lamp is often preferred due to its ability to provide concentrated heat that can be modified as required.

Be cautious when using a heat lamp,  as improper use could potentially lead to a fire hazard. Be sure to follow all manufacturer instructions and keep the lamp away from flammable materials.

Another option is an under-tank heating pad, which can be placed beneath your Corn Snake’s enclosure to provide a more diffuse source of heat.

Ensure that the pad doesn’t occupy an excessive area of the enclosure floor to prevent the risk of overheating.

No matter the type of heat source you select, consistent monitoring of your Corn Snake’s enclosure temperature is crucial. Employ a thermometer to measure the temperature and adjust the heat source.

How Often Do You Clean Corn Snake Cage?

You should spot-clean your Corn Snake’s cage every day, do a deeper clean once a week, and do a thorough cleaning at least once a month.

  • Spot cleaning: You should spot-clean your Corn Snake’s cage every day. This means removing any feces, uneaten food, or shed skin from the enclosure.
  • Weekly cleaning: Once a week, you should do a deeper cleaning of the enclosure. This involves removing everything from the cage, including the substrate, water dish, and any decorations.
  • Monthly cleaning: A thorough cleaning of the entire enclosure should be conducted at least monthly. This process includes disinfecting the cage using a reptile-friendly disinfectant, such as F10SC. Follow the instructions meticulously, and ensure the cage is fully rinsed with water before restoring all items.

Corn Snake Common Health Problems

Some common health issues that corn snakes may experience:

Skin Conditions

Corn snakes are prone to some skin conditions, including:

  • Blister disease: Pus-filled blisters on the skin caused by bacterial infection.
  • Abscesses: Infected wounds, cuts, or grazes that become swollen and painful.
  • Shedding problems: Difficulties shedding their skin, which can lead to retained skin and other complications.
  • Mites and ticks: External parasites that can cause skin irritation and other health problems.

In case you notice any indications of skin issues like redness, inflammation, or secretion, consult a reptile veterinarian immediately.

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections are another common health issue in corn snakes. Symptoms may include:

  • Wheezing or clicking sounds: Audible breathing sounds that may indicate an infection.
  • Nasal discharge: Discharge from the nostrils or mouth.
  • Lethargy: Unusual sluggishness or lack of activity.

If you suspect that your corn snake has a respiratory infection, seek veterinary care immediately. Left untreated, respiratory infections can be fatal.


Internal parasites are another common health problem in corn snakes. Including:

  • Roundworms: These are parasites that inhabit the intestines and have the potential to trigger digestive issues.
  • Tapeworms: Flatworms that can cause weight loss, vomiting, and other symptoms.
  • Protozoa: These single-celled entities can cause health complications including diarrhea and lethargy.

Does a Corn Snake Bite Hurt?

Corn snake bites are typically not severe and don’t cause excessive pain.

Being non-venomous creatures, corn snakes possess small mouths and teeth that act like miniature grasps to latch onto their prey, which makes their bites less damaging.

In most cases, a corn snake bite feels like a quick, sharp pain. The initial shock is often the worst part! The sudden attack may even draw a little blood, but sometimes they don’t even do that. After the initial bite, there’s usually no pain beyond light tenderness afterward.

It’s worth noting that young corn snakes may not even be able to penetrate the skin with their bite. Nonetheless, as the corn snake matures, the potency of its bite can increase, potentially causing minor bleeding.

If you happen to be bitten by a corn snake, maintaining calm is crucial. It’s advisable to cleanse the bite area with soap and water as a preventative measure against infection.

What Mistakes Do Corn Snake Owners Make?

Some common mistakes that Corn Snake owners make:


Overfeeding your Corn Snake can lead to obesity. If you feed your Corn Snake too often, they may become more ornery.


On the other hand, underfeeding your Corn Snake can lead to malnourishment. Ensure that your Corn Snake is receiving a suitable quantity of food at consistent intervals.

Improper Housing

Corn Snakes need a suitable enclosure that provides enough space to move around and explore. The enclosure should also have a secure lid to prevent escapes. Using a specially designed reptile enclosure with proper heating and lighting.

Incorrect Temperature and Humidity

Corn Snakes require a specific temperature and humidity range to thrive. The humidity level should be around 40-60%. Utilizing a thermometer and hygrometer to keep track of the temperature and humidity levels within your Corn Snake’s habitat.

Improper Handling

Corn Snakes can become stressed if handled improperly. Avoid handling your Corn Snake for the first few days after bringing it home to give it time to adjust to its new environment. When handling your Corn Snake, support its entire body and avoid grabbing it by the tail. Make sure to wash your hands before and after handling your Corn Snake to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Can Corn Snakes Hear You Talk?

Corn snakes possess a robust auditory system, but it is not as advanced as human hearing. They can perceive sounds within the 40-1000 hertz range, but they lack the ability to hear high-frequency sounds. Since the average human voice is around 250 Hz, it is possible that corn snakes can hear you talking to them.

There is no way for corn snakes to detect human speech or language. Instead, they can detect the vibrations in sound. For example, when you walk around or talk in the same room as your corn snake, it can sense the vibrations in the air and on the ground.

What Smells Do Corn Snakes Hate?

Corn snakes can be sensitive to certain scents.

Here are some smells that corn snakes hate:

  • Ammonia: Corn snakes are sensitive to ammonia, which is found in urine and feces. Neglecting the regular cleanliness of your snake’s habitat can lead to an ammonia buildup, potentially triggering respiratory issues in your pet. Clean your snake’s enclosure at least once a week to prevent this.
  • Citrus: Corn snakes don’t like the smell of citrus fruits like oranges and lemons. If you use citrus-scented cleaning products in your home, make sure to keep them away from your snake’s enclosure.
  • Mothballs: Mothballs contain naphthalene, which is toxic to snakes. Make sure they are stored in a sealed container away from your snake’s enclosure.
  • Cedar: Cedar wood shavings are commonly used as bedding for small animals, but they can be harmful to snakes. Cedar contains oils that can irritate your snake’s respiratory system. Instead, use aspen shavings or paper towels as bedding for your snake.
  • Strong perfumes: Corn snakes don’t like strong perfumes or colognes. If you’re wearing any fragrance like perfume or cologne, ensure to thoroughly cleanse your hands before you touch your snake.

How Often Should Your Corn Snake Poop?

Corn snakes typically poop every 1-2 weeks. Baby corn snakes may poop more frequently, while adult snakes may go longer periods between bowel movements.

Adult corn snakes in good health usually defecate approximately 3 to 5 days post-meal, or roughly once per week.

It’s important to monitor your corn snake’s poop schedule and consistency. If your corn snake hasn’t pooped in over two weeks or you notice any changes in the color, texture, or odor of their poop, it could potentially be a health concern.

What Do Corn Snakes Like to Do for Fun?

One of the things that corn snakes enjoy doing is exploring their surroundings. They are curious creatures that love to investigate new things. This is why it’s important to provide them with an enclosure that has plenty of hiding spots, climbing opportunities, and objects to investigate.

Another fun activity for corn snakes is basking in the sun. Providing them with a basking spot under a heat lamp will give them a chance to soak up some rays and warm themselves up.

Corn snakes also enjoy interacting with their owners. You can spend time with your corn snake by handling them gently, offering them food, and observing their behavior.

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