corn snakes – Keeping Exotic Pets http://www.keepingexoticpets.com Tue, 26 Dec 2017 10:39:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.8 Corn Snake Setup Guide – How to House Corn Snakes http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/corn-snake-setup-guide-house-corn-snakes/ http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/corn-snake-setup-guide-house-corn-snakes/#respond Mon, 31 Jul 2017 07:00:03 +0000 http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/?p=1963 So you’ve chosen your corn snake enclosure – the next step is to setup the cage properly so that you’re ready to bring home your snake. In this article we’ll discuss the equipment that you’ll be needing, together with how to set everything up correctly the first time. Corn Snake Bedding First and foremost you’re […]

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So you’ve chosen your corn snake enclosure – the next step is to setup the cage properly so that you’re ready to bring home your snake.

In this article we’ll discuss the equipment that you’ll be needing, together with how to set everything up correctly the first time.

Corn Snake Bedding

First and foremost you’re going to need some bedding to line the base of your corn snake cage. This bedding helps to make your corn snake feel at home, makes cleaning a far easier task and also – ideally – allows your corn snake to display some natural behaviour.

Over the years a huge range of different bedding materials have been tried. The most suitable options for corn snakes are as follows:

Aspen

Aspen is arguably the most popular form of corn snake bedding. These wooden shavings are light and fluffy, making them easy to transport back from the pet store and comfortable for your snake.

Personally I have found that corn snakes really appreciate this bedding, and regularly “dig” beneath it in a natural way. In some instances I have found that some corn snakes prefer to conceal themselves beneath the surface rather than using the carefully-chosen hide that they have been provided with.

This fluffiness also means that it is quite absorbent; spilled water or faeces quickly dry up, allowing effective spot-cleaning without the need to replace all the bedding as frequently.

If there is a downside to aspen bedding it is that it can “clump” up, leaving bare patches on the floor of the cage as your corn snake digs around. Personally, I give aspen bedding a 9/10 score.

Corn Cob Granules

Corn cob granules, as the name suggests, are made from grinding up the dried centres of sweetcorn cobs. This creates a natural, renewable bedding with the appearance of small, yellowish granules.

Corn cob is another ideal bedding for creating a more natural-looking cage, where the granules can be moved around by your snake. Arguably less attractive than aspen, and less likely to be used for burrowing due to its weight, corn cob granules tend to be used rather less for burrowing.

The downside to corn cob granules is that they can quickly rot when they get damp; so you need to be on constant watch for any moisture in the cage, or the resultant mould, so that such areas can be quickly cleaned.

I have found that the area around the waterbowl is particularly prone to this issue, as a bathing corn snake gets out of the water and creates drips in the surrounding substrate.

This makes it a little more effort to use corn cob granules than aspen, and for this reason I give it a score of 8/10.

Newspaper

Newspaper is of course cheap and plentiful, helping to keep your budget under control. It can also make cleaning out your corn snake a whole lot easier, as one can simply roll up the entire newspaper covering into a ball, then dispose of it in one go before replacing the newspaper.

Despite these benefits, newspaper does offer a number of potential weaknesses as a bedding substrate. Firstly, newspaper has very low absorbency levels, and therefore can quickly become damp. If you corn snake pills water from their bowl, this can quickly wick across the newspaper, creating a damp substrate. In general dampness is to be avoided with corn snakes, as it can result in skin conditions.

A second issue, of course, is that corn snakes are unable to burrow in newspaper, though they may try to conceal themselves beneath a loose flap of paper. In this way, I believe that newspaper doesn’t allow such a range of natural behaviours as do loose substrates like aspen. Added to this, of course, is looks just plain horrible too.

While I know there are fans of the ease and cost of using newspaper, it’s not a bedding that I myself use or recommend. As a result, I give it a score of 5/10.

Beech Chippings

Lastly we come to the substrate which I myself use in the majority of cases. While beech chippings are heavier than aspen, it is my personal opinion that beech is more attractive and just as practical.

Beech chippings allow your corn snake to dig around if it wants (though not as easily as with aspen) and seems to give the most natural appearance of all the various options. It stays clean and in good condition for long periods of time, making it good value for money.

Beech chippings are reasonably absorbent too, helping to keep your corn snake cage smelling clean and fresh, and making spot-cleaning quite a simple affair. It’s easy to just remove handfuls of substrate if necessary, then replace them with fresh bedding, to keep your corn snake in the best of health. My score here is 9/10 – on par with aspen, which together make up my two favorite types of bedding for corn snakes.

Hides for Corn Snakes

Whilst corn snakes are quite active snakes, like most of their kin they like to hide away from time-to-time. The provision of at least one hide is therefore important to help your corn snake feel comfortable in their enclosure.

One of the better ideas, if you corn snake enclosure is large enough, is to provide two different hides – one at the cool end and one at the warm end of the cage. In this way, your snake can choose the area to hide in that suits them best.

A huge range of different hides are available for reptile keepers and I have covered many of them in this article. Here are some of the better options available to you…

Cardboard Boxes

Possibly the cheapest and easiest hide for corn snakes is a cardboard box of some kind. Cereal boxes, for example, tend to make ideal hides for larger specimens. Boxes are of course a free product of most kitchens, saving you spending any unnecessary money. They do, however, become soiled quite quickly so may need to be replaced on a regular basis.

If there is a downside of cardboard boxes as hides it is simply that they’re not the most visually-appealing hides on the market. For anyone looking to create a more “naturalistic” display will therefore find them a disappointing option, despite their practicalities.

Loo Rolls / Kitchen Roll Tubes

For tiny hatchling corn snakes the cardboard tube from a toilet roll or kitchen roll can be easily used. Simply place this on its side in the cage and your baby corn snake will soon start to make use of it. Such tubes, of course, are really only suitable for smaller snakes, and have the same clinical, artificial appearance of cereal boxes.

Resin “Caves”

Now we start to move onto the types of hide that I personally prefer. These resin caves, and the next few options we’ll discuss, offer all the benefits required of a hide but also look far more visually-appealing.

Personally speaking I like to design reptile cages that not only meet all the physical requirements of my pets, but that also look great too. A key ingredient in my enjoyment of reptile keeping is being able to sit and watch my pets, and for this a naturalistic vivarium can’t be beaten.

These resin caves come in a huge range of different sizes, suitable for anything from a hatchling corn snake up to a fully-grown adult. They also come in a wide range of designs, to suit your personal tastes. Most have a smooth inner surface that can easily be wiped or scrubbed clean, making them very hygienic.

Personally, these are one of my favorite types of hides for my snakes and are available for quite a reasonable price in most reptile stores.

Curved Wooden Hides

Curved wooden hides are another favorite of mine, giving a really attractive appearance to your corn snake enclosure. Place them snuggly up against one wall of the cage and your corn snake will soon be happily concealed beneath it.

Being made of wood, cleaning can be slightly more difficult than for resin caves. It may be necessary to soak them in a bucket of hot water and reptile-safe detergent before scrubbing them with a stiff brush, but they’ll normally come up as good as new without too many problems.

A tend to use a either these curved wooden hides or resin caves for the majority of my snakes, tending to prefer resin caves for smaller snakes but curved wood for my larger specimens.

Cork Bark  

One final option for your corn snake is to hide under pieces of curved cork bark. These are light and cheap to buy, and make the most natural-looking hide possible.

That said, cork bark is arguably the most difficult type of hide to keep clean due to their natural design. Only you can decide if this issue is worth it as a compromise when considering how attractive a cork bark hide can be.  

Water Bowls

Whilst reptiles are designed to minimise water loss, and so tend not to drink as regularly as many other pets, it is still considered good form to ensure a water bowl is present at all times.

It is interesting to note that corn snakes are a species of snake that sometimes enjoys a bathe. Whilst the odds of bathing seem to vary between specimens, some of my corn snakes seem to love nothing more than to curl up in their waterbowl for a soak.

This has two implications. Firstly, the perfect water bowl for your snake should be large for him or her to get into. Secondly, as just as importantly, try not to fill up the water bowl to the very top. If you do so, your bathing snake my splash water all over the cage, requiring emergency cleaning.

Due to the size and strength of corn snakes, their habit of burrowing around under the substrate and therefore disturbing things, and how some specimens like to get in and out of the water on a regular basis I like to opt for a heavy bowl.

Ceramic bowls are my personal preference, as they are strong, heavy, wide and low, making it very unlikely they’ll be tipped over by an overzealous corn snake. Plastic bowls are easily tipped over so are not the best idea.

Try to choose a bowl that is large enough for your corn snake to easily curl up in (the bigger the better) and be sure to change the water daily to keep it fresh. Be aware that some snakes develop an annoying habit of defecating in their water, making it even more important to clean the bowl and change the water on a regular basis.  

Corn Snake Lighting

Corn snakes tend to be most active at dawn and dusk, but you may find your snake up and about at any time of the day or night. Opinions are divided on the use of lighting for corn snakes; it’s certainly isn’t a critical element, but some keepers like to light their cage all the same.

The argument for adding artificial lighting to your corn snake enclosure is that it helps to make the cage more visually appealing; allowing you to get a better view of your pet.

At the same time, of course, artificial lighting also increases the cost of setting up your corn snake enclosure in the first place. If you’re on a budget, you may want to forego lighting at the beginning, with a view to perhaps adding it at a later date. This is especially so if you’re starting with a hatchling corn snake, where you may be upgrading their housing in the months to come.  

Corn Snake Heating

Corn snakes hail from the warmer parts of North America, where they will often be seen basking in the sunshine. As cold blooded creatures it is essential to provide some form of artificial heating, so that your snake can warm itself up.

Without this, a corn snake will remain sluggish, may suffer from health problems and will likely live nowhere near as long as if heating was made available.

A range of different heating sources may be used, though arguably the best heater for corn snakes is a heat mat. These can be placed under a glass tank or inside a wooden enclosure, and provide a gentle background heat.

The aim when heating a corn snake enclosure is to make one end of the cage much warmer than the other. This creates a temperature gradient, rather reminiscent of what a corn snake might experience in the wild, with some areas warmer and others cooler.

In such a way you corn snake can behave more naturally, moving to the area that suits them best, then going off exploring the cooler end of their cage when they have warmed up suitably.

The hot end of the cage should ideally reach some 25-28’C. This can be easily monitored using a reptile thermometer, and if necessary can be controlled using a thermostat.

Cage Decor

Whilst we have discussed the most critical parts of a corn snake enclosure – the bedding, heater, hides and water bowl – this isn’t necessarily the limit. Some snake keepers opt to include a variety of other decor items to make their cage look more natural, and to make their snake feel more at home.

As an example, a range of good quality artificial plants can be bought from good reptile stores. While they are certainly not essential, some keepers like to include a range of these plants to give their corn snake somewhere else to explore and hide. There’s also no denying how attractive they look in a reptile cage.

The key here is to feel free to use your creativity once the basic requirements are covered. If you’re happy with the basics then don’t feel obliged to fill the cage with other decoration.

However, assuming the corn snake enclosure you chose has the space, feel free to add your own unique style to the cage design.

Corn Snake Vivarium Layout

Once you’ve selected all the equipment you’ll be needing, setting up the cage is reasonably simple. The following tips should provide a decent guide to setting up and laying out your corn snake enclosure:

Heating

The best place to start setting up your corn snake enclosure is the heating system. The reason is simply that depending on what type of enclosure you opt for, the heater may actually go inside the cage rather than under it. So fit the heater to start with.

If you’re using a heat mat as suggested then fit this at one end of the cage. Your aim should be to heat no more than ⅓ to ½ of the cage floor area, leaving the other end unheated.

Using this system, it becomes reasonably easy to choose a heater for your corn snake cage. Simply find one that most accurately reflects these dimensions.

If necessary, be prepared to drill a hole in your wooden vivarium to thread the wire through, and also check that there is a suitable plug socket nearby.

Thermometer

As heating is such a critical part of keeping your corn snake fit and healthy, monitoring the temperature levels in the cage are paramount. A huge range of different reptile thermometers are on the market, but my own personal preference is for digital thermometers with heat-sensitive probes.

I have not only found these thermometers to be very accurate (more so than many of the “dial” thermometers, for example) but the probe also makes monitoring the temperature at a specific part of the cage much simpler.

I recommend investing in at least one – and ideally two. The first should be installed to measure the temperature at the hot end of the cage. The second, if you have one, can monitor the cool end.

Bedding

With your heating set up, next place a few centimetres of your chosen bedding – such as aspen or beech – on the floor of the cage.

Water Bowl

The water bowl should be placed at the cool end of the cage, away from the heat source to reduce evaporation. Half fill the bowl and be prepared to change the water daily and scrub the bowl clean at least once a week.

Hides

At least one hide – and ideally two – should be made available to your snake. I like to place these at the back of the cage, giving my snakes an added feeling of safety and seclusion.

If possible, place one hide at the warm end and one at the cool end – essentially one hide in each of the back corners of the cage.

If you only have one hide then you’ll need to pay more attention to your snake, and move the hide around based on their activity. Figure out whether they’re spending the majority of their time at the hot or cool end, then try to place their hide in such a position. In this way they will be able to hide away at a temperature that suits them best.

Lid

Lastly, once all the above equipment has been set up, secure the lid or cage door. Get used to opening and closing the lock (if there is one) and satisfy yourself that there are no gaps that your snake can escape through.

Testing Your Corn Snake Enclosure

Once the cage it all set up, the final stage is really to gets things running for a few days before bringing home your snake. In this way you can spot any issues before your snake takes up residence. Not only is this kinder for your corn snake, but it also makes your life a lot easier as you don’t need to worry about your snake escaping while making changes to the cage.

There are two key areas to consider. The first of these is the heating system. Keep an eye on your thermometer, to ensure that the heater is doing a proper job. Remember: an ideal temperature on the hotspot is 25-28’C – so check that the tank is getting neither too hot nor unpleasantly cold. Placing your flat hand on the bedding should reveal that the heated end is also considerably warmer than the cooler end.  

Alongside this, pay attention to your water bowl. In cages where the air gets too warm, or where ventilation is weak, the water can evaporate rapidly, steaming up the inside of the cage. These droplets may also drip into the substrate, causing it to rot in time. If necessary, move the water bowl as close to the cool end as possible and/or consider increasing ventilation to control moisture.

With these elements set up and checked, and feeling confident that everything is as it should be, the only step left is to introduce your new corn snake; and to hope they appreciate all the hard work that you’ve put in!

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Feeding Corn Snakes http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/feeding-corn-snakes/ http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/feeding-corn-snakes/#respond Mon, 17 Jul 2017 07:00:55 +0000 http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/?p=1973 Corn snakes are one of the most popular pet reptiles kept by hobbyists today. Like all snakes, they are carnivores, capturing and eating whatever they can fit into their mouths. This means, as a pet owner, that you must be willing to feed your corn snake on other animals; sadly a corn snake isn’t likely […]

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Corn snakes are one of the most popular pet reptiles kept by hobbyists today.

Like all snakes, they are carnivores, capturing and eating whatever they can fit into their mouths. This means, as a pet owner, that you must be willing to feed your corn snake on other animals; sadly a corn snake isn’t likely to find a juicy salad or a tub of houmous quite as appealing as a still-warm mouse!

In this article we’ll discuss the basics of feeding corn snakes from the perspective of the pet owner, aiming to answer all the more common questions, and by the end you should be an expert on how to feed your own corn snake.  

What Do Corn Snakes Eat?

corn snake photo

Corn snakes are so-called because they are most commonly-encountered in the wild around agricultural areas, particularly corn fields and storage barns. As you might imagine, there’s a pretty obvious reason: corn snakes like to prey on the small rodents who themselves are trying to fatten up on the glut of grain such habitats provide.

There’s a further hint as to the diet of corn snakes when you consider that they belong to a large and success group of snakes collectively known as “rat snakes”. Yep – corn snakes aren’t just carnivores – they’re specialist feeders of small rodents.

Due to the size of corn snakes, this usually means mice of different sizes, though small rats may occasionally fall prey to this beautiful and popular pet snake.

In captivity, it is most common to feed corn snakes on mice of varying sizes. Fortunately, these are freely available from most reptile shops, where they vary in size from tiny newborn mice (often known as “pinks” or “pinkies” as they lack fur), through to large “jumbo” mice.

Is Dead or Live Food Better?

snake mouse photo

In the wild, corn snakes will of course capture live rodents to eat. However, in captivity this poses a number of potential issues. Firstly, it’s not the most pleasant thing to observe, and indeed in some countries feeding live rodents to snakes is deemed illegal.

Just as importantly, however, in the confines of a cage a rodent has the potential to “fight back”. They may succeed in wounding your snake by biting it out of fear; something that isn’t ideal for your pet.

Lastly, the practicalities of keeping a selection of live mice of varying sizes, and then presenting them to your snake, generally makes this rather inconvenient.

Instead, snake owners generally rely on dead mice. These are bought frozen from a reptile shop, and are thawed out as necessary before feeding them to your snake. Surprisingly, most snakes will quickly take to eating dead mice in this way, which makes feeding corn snakes a far simpler job.

How Do You Thaw Out Frozen Rodents?

There are two common ways to thaw out the frozen rodents bought from reptile stores. The first is simply to leave the mouse or rat out on the side to thaw naturally. This process can take some hours for larger rodents, so many reptile enthusiasts rely on an alternative…

The other option is to place the rodent into a plastic bag, and then suspend this in warm water. The warm water not only helps to thaw the mouse out quicker – ideal if you’re strapped for time – but also heats up the mouse.

Most reptile keepers find that giving their snake a warm mouse, as opposed to a cool one, improves the feeding response and makes them more appealing to reptiles. This is likely because the scent is rather stronger, drawing in the reptile.   

Can I Feed Wild Rodents to My Snake?

pinkie snake photo

Whilst corn snakes in the wild will eat whatever they can find, it is generally not considered a good idea to feed wild rodents to captive snakes.

The frozen rodents available in the pet trade have been specially bred for the purpose and should be disease-free. Wild rodents, however, may carry diseases which could affect your corn snake if you are unlucky.

Are Corn Snakes Venomous?

Corn snakes are not venomous. Instead, they are “constrictors”. This means that they capture live prey such as rodents or birds, then surround them with coils from their body. The coils are gently tightened, slowly suffocating and crushing the prey item before it is eaten.

This means that corn snakes pose no serious threat to humans. Indeed, even if a corn snake tries to “constrict” your arm, it is unlikely to be a painful experience.

How Often Should I Feed My Corn Snake?

corn snake feeding photo

Generally speaking smaller corn snakes are fed more frequently than adults. Most experts recommend feeding hatchling corn snakes every 5-7 days, whilst adults are more often fed every 7-10 days.

As a general rule of thumb, think of feeding your corn snake once every week or so, though the odd delay here or there is unlikely to be a problem.

It is also worth remembering that as corn snakes grow, so too will the size of prey items they accept. As you move up from one size of rodent to the next you may want to temporarily reduce the feeding frequency of your snake, in order to allow them to properly digest their new larger meals.

What Size Food Will My Corn Snake Eat?

corn snake feeding photo

Hatchling corn snakes will normally start out on newborn mice. These are often known as “pinks” or “pinkies” because they are so young that they have not yet started to grow hair. As your corn snake grows, so the size of prey items provided can be increased. Most adult corn snakes will eat adult mice without issue.

As a general rule, snakes will successfully eat a prey item that is as fat as the largest part of its body.

Don’t be worried about how tiny your corn snake’s head looks; snakes can dislocate their jaw to swallow prey items much larger than you might think possible. Indeed, observing your snake while they guzzle that giant meal can be one of the most fascinating parts of keeping snakes as pets.

How Do You Feed a Corn Snake?

corn snake feeding photo

Corn snakes are known to be good feeders, in contrast to some other snake species like Ball Pythons, which may go off their food for months on end. As a result, most corn snakes will eat readily, and no fancy system in normally required.

Personally I thaw out the required number and type of rodents that my snakes will eat. Ensuring that these are gently warm (not scalding hot) I simply place the relevant rodent into my corn snake’s cage.

The snakes are then left alone in peace and quiet to find, swallow and digest their meal.

Some keepers like to “tempt” their corn snake by holding the dead mouse in a long pair of forceps infront of their snake, however I have never found this to be necessary. Generally speaking your snake will soon smell the fresh mouse, and will come out to find it.

I find that feeding my snakes in the evening tends to work best, as they are most active then. If the food item remains uneaten the following morning it is removed and disposed of. I do not refreeze uneaten food to prevent the risk of them spoiling.

What Should I Do If My Corn Snake Doesn’t Eat?

corn snake photo

As discussed, corn snakes are normally very reliable feeders, so most food will be consumed without incident. On the odd occasion, however, you may find the mouse still sitting in the cage the following morning.

The most common reasons for your corn snake not eating are that it wasn’t hungry (you’re feeding too much) or it felt stressed (was there too much noise around, or is this a new snake still getting used to it’s surroundings?). The third and most common cause is that your corn snake is coming up to slough its skin.

Generally speaking there is little to worry about if a snake refuses its food once or twice. Simply take out the rodent and dispose of it, keeping a note of which snake didn’t feed. Then just try it again the following week.

Assuming your corn snake looks in good health and isn’t losing too much weight then a week or two without feeding is unlikely to do them any harm.   

Can I Handle My Snake After Feeding?

corn snake photo

After it has eaten, your snake needs time to rest and digest its meal. Stressing out your snake soon after it has fed can result in the rodent being regurgitated; hardly what either you or the snake want.

As a result, it is best to leave your snake along for some 48 hours or so after it has eaten, at which point you can resume handling if desirable.

Photos c/o angela n., highlander411, amarette., Clevergrrl & kthypryn

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Corn Snake Enclosures http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/corn-snake-enclosures/ http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/corn-snake-enclosures/#respond Tue, 06 Jun 2017 11:26:21 +0000 http://www.keepingexoticpets.com/?p=1961 Corn snakes are one of the most popular pet snakes due to their docile nature, ease of care and low cost of purchase. Like all snakes, however, the key to a long and healthy life for your pet is in the provision of a suitable enclosure. A corn snake enclosure should meet all of the […]

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Corn snakes are one of the most popular pet snakes due to their docile nature, ease of care and low cost of purchase.

Like all snakes, however, the key to a long and healthy life for your pet is in the provision of a suitable enclosure.

A corn snake enclosure should meet all of the following requirements:

Security / Escape-Proof – Corn snakes are natural escape artists, and are capable of squeezing through the tiniest of gaps. A suitable corn snake enclosure should therefore address this situation, ensuring that there is no way that your pet can escape. This is particularly important as corn snakes tend to be nocturnal, so they are likely to be most active (and therefore to escape) while you’re tucked up in bed. By the following morning trying to track them down can be a frustrating experience.

Just as important as preventing your corn snake from escaping, however, is preventing unauthorized access to your snake from outside. This doesn’t just apply to other people in your home, but also other domestic pets. Cats can be a particular nuisance, so ensure there is no way for your cat to open the cage door or to sneak a paw into the enclosure.  

Suitable Environmental Conditions – One of the key differences between keeping exotic pets like corn snakes and other more traditional pets is that they are far more affected by their environment. Temperature and light levels should be suitably controlled to ensure maximum comfort. At the same time, your corn snake should have continual access to fresh water, somewhere snug to hide away from prying eyes, and should enough space to move around.

Cleanliness and Hygiene – Corn snakes are surprisingly clean animals. While they may eat dead rodents and birds, these are normally swallowed whole, leaving little or no residue in their cage. Eating only occasionally, snakes also tend to defecate only irregularly, and this often dried quite quickly in the confines of a warm cage.

Cleaning tends to be a reasonably simple affair as a result, but is important all the same. Drinking water should of course be changed daily, the cage should be spot-cleaned as necessary and the whole thing emptied, scrubbed with reptile-safe disinfectant and set up again on a regular basis.

Visibility – Lastly, of course, you should be able to see and enjoy your pet from afar. A corn snake enclosure with a clear plastic or glass front ensures that you can get the most from owning a snake, and can observe your snake’s everyday activities without interfering unnecessarily.

Corn Snake Cage Size

corn snakes photo

Unlike more timid snakes such as ball pythons, corn snakes can be surprisingly active, especially around dawn and dusk. They willingly explore their cage, looking for suitable prey (and, some people might argue, opportunities for escape!). Growing to an adult length of around 120cm (4’) corn snakes therefore appreciate a reasonable amount of space.

Cage Sizes for Adult Corn Snakes

Opinions vary as to the optimum but a good rule of thumb for adult corn snakes is a cage measuring no less than 90cm (3’) in length with a depth of 40cm (15”). Of course, as with other active snakes, if you’re able to provide a larger cage then all the better. A corn snake kept in a four foot long (120cm) cage with a depth of eighteen inches (45cm) will all the happier.

Cage Sizes for Hatchling Corn Snakes

Of course, a pencil-sized baby corn snake would soon get lost in a large enclosure, which would also make maintaining your snake rather more problematic. Ideally corn snakes should be housed in a cage where you can easily lay eyes on them at any time, in order to ensure they are in full health.

Many baby corn snakes are kept in clear plastic containers measuring little more than 18” long by 8-10” deep. Such a container is suitable for the smallest of hatchlings, but of course over time your snake will need to be rehoused as it grows.

Types of Corn Snake Enclosures

corn snakes photo

In theory, any container which effectively meets the guidelines provided earlier can make a suitable corn snake enclosure. In reality, there are a limited number of “tried-and-tested” cages which tend to work best for corn snakes in captivity…

Glass Aquariums with a Suitable Lid

One of the more popular corn snake enclosures is a suitably-sized glass aquarium. Such a cage provides excellent visibility of your pet and is both easy to source and to clean. There are, however, downsides. Firstly, of course, glass aquariums can be heavy to get home and to move around.

Secondly, it is critical to purchase a suitable reptile-safe lid. This lid should not only prevent escape of your pet, but should also prevent too much heat from escaping in colder months. Increasingly, a small range of specialist glass tanks are being made available to reptile keepers, complete with a specially-made lid which offers the maximum in security.

Wooden Vivariums

Possibly the most popular option of all for housing larger corn snakes is a wooden vivarium. These tanks are available online or from most good pet stores, and often for rather less than an aquarium.

With their ventilated sides for air movement, and the sliding glass doors at the front, wooden snake vivariums offer all the practicality needed with an attractive design and easy access.

The solid sides and roof also offer other benefits; not only do they allow your corn snake to feel rather more secure than having glass on all sides, but they also help to hold the heat on cold winter days. As a result, keeping your corn snake warm and comfortable becomes easier and cheaper.

Lastly, note that the wooden construction can make it easier to affix the electrical components necessary. It is simplicity itself to drill a small hole in the side, in order to feed through a heater, light or thermostat cable; something that is far more challenging in a solid glass tank.

For these reasons, my own personal preference when keeping corn snakes is for one of the reasonably-priced, highly practical wooden vivariums.

Glass Exo Terra Cages

For smaller corn snakes glass Exo Terra cages can work very well; offering a compromise between wooden vivariums and glass tanks. The Exo Terra is of all-glass construction but offers a number of carefully-designed benefits.

For one thing, the lockable front-opening doors make accessing your snake very simple. The raised glass floor also makes fitting a heater beneath very simple indeed. Exo Terras also come with built-in cable holes, which can be closed easily, making it easy to install any electrical equipment required.

Lastly, if you opt to provide artificial lighting for your snake, or heat the cage from above, then Exo Terra also offer custom-designed cage hoods, complete with bulb fittings, into which your chosen lighting solution can be fitted.  

Exo Terras come in a wide range of sizes, making them ideal for corn snakes of many sizes, from tiny hatchlings right up to full-grown adults.

Faunariums

A faunarium is a low-cost corn snake enclosure, suitable for smaller specimens. It is made of rigid clear plastic, with a closely-attaching ventilated plastic lid. Larger models tend to also have a “trapdoor” in the middle of the lid, to enable access to the enclosure without removing the entire lid.

To me, these are a solid solution for smaller snakes. Indeed, you may see some reptile shops placing multiple faunariums into one single large vivariums, with each one containing a baby snake.

Due to the size that your corn snake should achieve, however, these are unlikely to be suitable for larger snakes, however they can be a cheap solution while you’re waiting for your corn snake to reach a suitable size for their own wooden vivarium or Exo Terra.

Really Useful Boxes

Other escape-proof plastic containers have also become popular among exotic pet owners over the years. Of these, arguably the Really Useful Box (or “RUB” for short) is the most popular. These sturdy, stackable boxes have the distinct benefit of offering a “locking” lid thanks to two blue devices which “click” over the lid, preventing escape.

RUBs are also quite cheap to buy, and due to their solid design it is very simple to drill some air holes in the side using an electric drill. These are arguably the most practical enclosure of all for very small snakes.

What is the Best Corn Snake Enclosure?

One of the more common questions I receive through my contact form is what the best corn snake enclosure really is. Of course, with the wide range of cages available there is no easy answer to this question. Some are far more practical than others, while prices can vary considerably between the different options.

My own personal preference is to opt for one of the smaller Exo Terras if I’m buying just a single baby snake. The appearance and practicality of these cages is, I think, exceptional. Of course, if you’re keeping a number of baby snakes then these can quickly become expensive, in which case you may opt for something less visually appealing but far cheaper – such as a suitably-sized RUB.

For adult corn snakes I think the best enclosure is a wooden vivarium. These come in a range of different colors, look fantastic, and offer both security and practicality for you – especially if combined with a low-cost cage lock.

That said, I would encourage you to consider your budget, and the size of the snake you’re planning to buy, to decide what the optimum compromise is for you regarding price, size, practicality and appearance.

Siting Your Corn Snake Enclosure

snake vivarium photo

Alongside buying a suitable corn snake enclosure another critical aspect relating to corn snake enclosures is where to place the cage in your home. Like other reptiles, corn snakes are sensitive to noise and vibrations, as well as to a range of common household chemicals.

In terms of which room to place your corn snake enclosure in, the kitchen and bathroom are therefore best avoided. The best option is a quiet bedroom or office where your snake won’t be regularly disturbed. The enclosure may alternatively be placed in your living room, assuming you won’t have children running around and causing stress to the snake.

Being sensitive to noise, it is best to place your corn snake enclosure away from such sources – ideally they should be housed away from TVs, stereo systems and washing machines for example.

Being cold blooded creatures, requiring artificial heating in all but the warmest weather, also think about drafts or areas of your home where temperatures may fluctuate excessively. Don’t, for example, place your corn snake enclosure near an outside door, or against a radiator that may warm up rapidly in winter.

Lastly, be aware that direct sunlight can rapidly heat up a glass cage, leading to dangerous temperatures inside your corn snake enclosure. Keeping tanks away from windows – especially those facing south – is therefore also recommended.

While this may sound like a long list of requirements, it is normally quite easily achieved in most homes. A dimly-lit spare bedroom away from a radiator, for example, is a perfect site for your corn snake’s cage, where they will be away from noise, vibrations and fluctuating temperatures.

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