Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttatus) Care Sheet



Common Name: Corn Snake

Scientific Name: Pantherophis guttatus

Native Habitat: The South-Eastern United States ranging from as north as New Jersey down to South Florida. 

State Regulations: You cannot keep Corn snakes in Georgia, and you can only keep Corn snakes with red eyes (Albinos) in New Jersey.

Lifespan: In the wild, the average age of a corn snake is anywhere from 6-8 years old. They can live in captivity between 10-20 years old with proper care. The oldest corn snake on record lived until 32 years and three months old. 

Size: According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, the largest corn snake on record was 72 inches long. The average length of corn snakes can vary quite a bit. They are 2 to 6 feet long but usually around 4 to 5.5 feet. The girth of an adult corn snake is approximately 2.5 inches in diameter at the thickest part of its body but can be less or more depending on the size of your corn snake. I like to think of corn snakes growing like a giant pencil stretching. Because corn snakes are not significant in circumference, even if they grow long, they are still super easy to handle.

Expert Level: Great for beginners of all ages. Corn snakes are our first recommendation for a beginner keeper, especially for kids, because they stay pretty small, are easy to handle, and like to move around. The latter makes them a more engaging snake for kids.

Temperament: Baby corn snakes are typically pretty friendly snakes; some can be feisty, but even if one bit you, you cannot feel it. They are higher energy than, say, a Ball python, and corn snakes love to try a wiggle out your hands when you first pick them up, so if you have a small child handling their snake, I would supervisor them. With proper husbandry and handling, an adult corn snake will become accustomed to being handled, typically does not bite, and are a joy to keep. 

Handling: If you are bringing home a corn snake, whether a baby or adult, make sure to allow your snake to acclimate to their new enclosure and feed for you at home before you handle them a bunch. I know it can be super exciting to handle right away, but try to limit handling your snake in the first week or two. Always remember not to hold your snake the day before feeding, feeding day, and the day after feeding to ensure they can digest their food with no issues. Once your corn snake is acclimated to their new home, make sure to continue to handle your corn snake regularly. Hence, they become used to human interaction. 


Enclosure: There are many different ways to keep a Corn snake. The most popular way to keep your baby Corn snake is in a 10-20 gallon terrarium. If you want to become a breeder, purchase a rack system. We have custom melamine racks (we had a local cabinet maker build them for us) with Sterilite tubs. Rack systems are the best way to keep medium to extensive collections of corn snakes where you can connect Flexwatt heat tape to share heat. 

*** Baby Corn snakes will feel safer if you start them in a smaller enclosure. Then, as your corn snake grows, please increase the size of its enclosure. One of the most common solutions to a new Corn snake refusing to eat at their new home is that it is way too big. If you want to use a larger enclosure, fill it with multiple hides and plenty of decors to make it feel smaller. ***

Housing Multiple Corn Snakes: We do not recommend cohabiting with your corn snake. Your Corn snake can become stressed out or injured. The only time you should have two snakes together is during breeding. 

Water Dish: Water is essential for your Corn snake and should always be in their enclosure. Make sure NOT to use distilled water for your reptile. If you need to know if tap water is safe, we suggest using bottled water like spring water. Also, you can you the product: "ReptiSafe® water conditioner, which is great for water bowls and removes chloramines and chlorine, detoxifies ammonia and nitrites, and provides essential ions and electrolytes which help to hydrate newly acquired animals." This care sheet is not sponsored; I know the latter is a good product.

Substrate: Do not use sand or cedar substrate. Aspen is our favorite type of substrate for Corn snakes. We use Sani-Chips exclusively, which is an aspen-based bedding. Corn snakes like to burrow and do not need a ton of humidity, so Sani-Chips does the job well. 

Hides: Please buy TWO hides — one on the hot side and one on the cool side. Your Corn snake can comfortably regulate their temperature, having a hide on both sides. 

Decor: Get creative and change it up. Corn snakes are ground-dwelling snakes, but you can still put things like branches for your snake maybe climb on. Each snake is different and will like other things. Some corn snakes enjoy burrowing like sand boas, swimming in their water dishes like anacondas, hiding like shy Ball pythons, or being semi-arboreal like Carpet pythons. 

Besides adding fun decor, switch it up from time to time. Changing up your corn snake's enclosure is excellent for mental stimulation for your snake and a perfect excuse for you to become an even more passionate and experienced keeper.


Heating Source: Heating mat (undertank or side), heat tape, ceramic emitters, or a basking light. UVB light is not required. The easiest and most efficient way to keep a single Corn snake is with a basking light or undertank heating mat. Both can be easily purchased online. Flexwatt heat tape is an excellent choice for larger groups in a rack system. You can find this either online or at a hardware store. Do not use heat rocks in your Corn snake's enclosure, as your python could get burned.

Temperature: Hot side should be about 85°F. The cool side should be about 80°F. The cool side can go into the mid to high 70s without problems. 

Lighting: Corn snakes do not have a lighting requirement. If the room you are keeping your Corn snake in does not have natural light, use a non-heat emitting light (like an LED) to mimic the day and night cycle. 

Thermometer: To ensure that your temperatures are correct in your Corn snake's enclosure, purchase at LEAST one. We highly recommend purchasing two to measure the temps on both the hot and cool sides. There are many options on the market. Shop around to see where the best deals are. You can also purchase a Digital Infrared thermometer that reads the temperature instantly. 


Humidity: Corn snakes need about 40% humidity in their enclosure. Babies sometimes need a little bit higher. If your Corn snake has problems shedding, you may need to raise your humidity slightly. Also, consider putting in a humidity box for them when they enter into shed. 

Just a few ways to add increased humidity

 ***Make sure not to go overboard because Corn snakes are not like pythons and do not require a ton of humidity*** : 

  • Larger water dish 
  • Cover screen top 75% with a towel
  • Place a humidifier in the same room
  • Add live plants. 

It might be impossible to keep the humidity high if you live in an area that gets cold and dry in the winter. Try your best to keep it as close to 40% as possible, and refer to the shedding section if you need tips about stuck sheds

Hygrometer: I am always surprised how many keepers opt out of purchasing this essential tool for keeping most reptiles. A hygrometer is very inexpensive equipment that allows you to measure the humidity in your reptile's enclosure

Shedding: Like other snakes, corn snakes shed their skin to grow. Corn snakes will shed their skin multiple times throughout their life. The younger the Corn snake is, the more often they will shed. When your Corn snake is ready to shed, their scales will look dull, and their eyes will start to look blue, which is called Pre-ecdysis. Sometimes during this period, your Corn snake may refuse to eat, which is perfectly normal. To help your Corn snake have a complete shed, you can slightly raise the humidity or add a humidity box, as previously mentioned. Ecdysis is the name of the process when a snake sheds their skin. You will see your Corn snake start to rub their little faces on the decor, the terrarium, rocks, or even you if you are holding them. If the humidity is correct and your Corn snake has no shedding issues, you should have a beautiful complete shed. 

Shedding Issues: If your Corn snake has stuck shed, ensure that your humidity is high enough in their enclosure. A few ways to help with stuck shed is using a Rubbermaid or Sterilite tub with holes. First, soak your Corn snake about a half-inch to an inch of (just warmer than room temperature) water for 30 minutes. The second way you can help is by dampening a paper towel with warm water, twisting out the excess water, and placing them in a tub. Then, let your Corn snake cruise for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Once your Corn snake has soaked or cruised around the paper towel, put on a rubber thumb to gently remove the stuck shed. The rubber thumb is easier to do with an adult corn snake (not for a baby). If you cannot remove an eye cap or a piece of the shed that looks restricting, please go to a local breeder or vet to have it professionally removed. 

Scale Rot: First thing is prevention! Make sure you do a weekly health check on your snake at home. Look at their scales and check if your Corn snake has a rash or blisters that could be scale rot. Scale rot is typically due to the humidity being way too high. First, place your Corn snake into an arid environment. Use a paper towel as a substrate; you can change it frequently to keep the enclosure dry. Wait a day or two before placing a water dish back into their enclosure. Once you place a water dish back into the enclosure, please change it if it has spilled onto the paper towel. Make sure to clean up immediately if your snake has urinated or defecated. You can try baths with a Betadine solution. Still, in less you are experienced with scale rot, I would head to the vet if you are having issues to start a course of antibiotics to help heal your snake.  


Feeding: We usually start all of our baby Corn snakes on pinky mice once a week. We feed frozen/thawed to our Corn snakes, and many online companies ship bulk mice and/or rats to your door. To prepare a frozen rodent, either thawed out overnight on your counter or in warm water to defrost. DO NOT MICROWAVE YOUR RODENTS. 

Please note if you feed life, you need to supervise the feedings as live mice can injure your Corn snake. Once your Corn snake has eaten, only hold them for 24-48 hours. 

What size rodent do I give my Corn snake?

My go-to recommendation is the size of the prey should be the same size as the most significant part of their body. I know some say 1.5x. All of our babies start on pinkies, then large pinkies, fuzzies, hoppers, medium weaned mice, adult mice, and then if they are large, even a jumbo adult mouse or weaned rat. We usually feed one "appropriately-sized" rodent per week. 

Feeding Issues: Corn snakes are good feeders and usually do not have too many problems feeding. If you have a newborn Corn snake that has never taken a meal, they may refuse to accept food for a few weeks as they are still full from the egg. NEVER FORCE FEED YOUR Corn snake. If you are having issues getting a newborn to eat — find a local breeder or vet to assist you.

Suppose you have a baby Corn snake refusing to eat from a breeder or store that has said they have already taken a few meals. In that case, your Corn snake may need some time (even a few weeks) to acclimate to their new environment. Also, double-check to make sure that your temperatures and humidity are correct. 

If you purchased the Corn snake from us, please call us so we can notate the order and ensure your enclosure is set up correctly. 

If you purchase a Corn snake from another breeder, try to get their contact information and the history of what the snake was eating. Also, ask the seller if they provide customer service support after you purchase thru them. We are always happy to answer questions at BHB Reptiles regardless if they are a BHB reptile. However, your pet doesn't come from us; we cannot know if that snake has eaten before or has any potential health problems. 

 Here are a few other tips that you can try: 

  • If your enclosure is too large, downsize to something smaller.
  • Try feeding right before bed; if the rodent is frozen-thawed, leave it in the enclosure overnight.
  • Wiggle with tongs.
  • Move your corn snake to a smaller container (with holes to breathe)
  • Slightly warm a thawed rodent a little more in warm water 
  • Try a smaller rodent. 
  • Try feeding in a separate smaller feeding box. 

Keep in mind that if your baby Corn snake refuses to eat, please keep your offerings one week apart to keep your Corn snake's feeding response strong. 

We have heard of some keepers offering a different color mouse, scenting the mouse, and braining a frozen/thawed mouse. I have yet to hear about many keepers having luck with those methods, but it is always worth a try. 



  • Terrarium 


  • Water Dish


  • Aspen Bedding


  • Two hides (hot and cool hides)


  • Decor


  • Heating Mat or Basking Light


  • LED light (if needed)


  • Thermometers (hot and cool side) or a Digital Infrared thermometer


  • Hygrometer


  • Appropriate sized Frozen Rodents for your snake(s).


  • Contact information from the seller and a local exotic vet. - The best part is this last one is FREE, yet the most valuable. 


Medical Conditions For Corn Snakes That Are, For The Most Part, Preventable Thru Proper Care & Husbandry

Regurgitation: Corn snakes are sensitive to regurgitation. If, for whatever reason, your Corn snake regurgitates, make sure to wait about 1.5 weeks before feeding again and give smaller meals for about a month before offering a regular meal. If your Corn snake regurgitates a second time, please visit a vet. They are not as sensitive as a Ball python with regurgitation. However, it still can be a severe issue if not treated correctly. 

Constipation: Yup! When you thought you were the only one suffering, snakes can have potty problems too. Just like in humans, prevention is the key. There are many reasons your snake could be impacted, including dehydration, overfeeding, substrate impaction, and incorrect temps/humidity. 

If you think your Corn snake is constipated because they have gone without defecating, give them a soak in a half-inch to an inch of warm for about 20 minutes. Moving around in the water helps to relieve mild constipation in snakes. Also, handling your snake for a little bit, along with gently rubbing their belly, can help.

If there is no change or you notice any bloating around the last third of their body, it is time to head to the vet. The vet will administer different treatments depending on the severity of the problem. 

Mouth Rot: Another preventive condition is mouth rot. Mouth rot is typically caused by poor husbandry, incorrect temps/humidity, and poor diet. Make sure you keep the enclosure clean and change their water daily. If you notice mouth-rot on your snake, go to the vet. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, a red, inflamed mouth, visual dead tissue on the mouth area, or pus from the mouth/nose. 

Mite Prevention: Anytime you bring a reptile into your home or collection, ensure that you quarantine them away from other reptiles. There is a product called Prevent-A-Mite that you can spray into their enclosure which will do a great job. 

Mite Symptoms: If your Corn snake is hanging out in their water dish a lot and you see black specks floating around in the water, you may have a snake with mites. Also, you can double-check their scales to see if any raised scales with mites are hiding. 

Mite Treatment: If your Corn snake has mites, make sure to bathe your Corn snake in warm water about half an inch to an inch deep. While your Corn snake is bathing, thoroughly disinfect their enclosure. I would get a separate Rubbermaid/Sterilite tub or terrarium and spray down with Prevent-A-Mite. Let the enclosure completely air dry, and use a paper towel as a substrate with nothing else in the enclosure. After a day or two, place the water dish back into the enclosure. You will need to continue to bathe your Corn snake, disinfect your enclosure, and use Prevent-A-Mite for about a month or so. 

*** Natural Chemistry has a product for reptile mites, but I do not have any personal experience using it. Let me know if you have any positive feedback on that product.***

Notes from the author: This article was written in August 2020 and is subject to change in the future. The opinions in this article come from my personal experience serving thousands of reptile keepers with the care of their reptiles.

***Did I forget something, or is there something else you feel I should include on this care sheet? Please feel free to email me at****


Once you receive your Corn snake(s), please inspect your box and the python. 

If there are any problems, please call us during business hours or email us during non-business hours for the fastest service. 

If there are no issues, please place your python directly into their new home and offer water. 

Wait to provide food until 5-7 days to allow their stomach to settle from shipping. Finally, we recommend light handling or no handling the first week they arrive so they can become acclimated to their new environment. Most of all, enjoy your new companion(s).

Written By Stephanie Kent

- BHB Reptiles