The corn snake, also known as the red rat snake, is popularly regarded as one of the easiest snakes to take care of. That’s because of their relative smallness (they rarely go longer than 5 feet), their high capacity for adapting in different environments, their mild temperament, their hardiness, and their ease of breeding. Read on for guidelines for taking care of a corn snake:
- Know if you’re ready to take care of a corn snake. Because corn snakes live up to 20 years, taking care of them requires commitment. Ask yourself: Am I ready to perform daily care and feeding to my snake? Am I ready to spend money on his habitat and his check-ups?
- Know how to choose a snake. Make sure that you buy your snake from a reputable pet store. Buy only a healthy snake – signs of a healthy corn snakes include clear eyes, round body, and healthy skin. Look carefully at its scales and watch out for black specks – a truly healthy snake shouldn’t have these. A corn snake should also be active and alert, and its habitat should be clean and well-kept. Finally, ask the store attendant to feed the corn snake in your presence. It should have a healthy appetite.
- Start with a hatchling. It’s best that you buy your corn snake as a young hatchling, so you could get to train it to respond to you. Do remember that you should allow time to get used to your handling. At the beginning, you should handle it just for a few minutes at a time and make sure that you touch it right after it’s been fed (or else it may be tempted to bite your fingers).
- Feed your corn snake properly. Here’s one hard thing about keeping corn snakes: their diet is entirely made up of rodents. Make sure that you (and your household) are prepared to handle seeing supplies of frozen rodents in the fridge. You should also make sure that you could easily buy rats and rodents for feeding at your local reptile shops or animal stores.
To feed your snake, hold the frozen rodent in front of him using a pair of tweezers (never use your bare hands!). Wiggle the rodent until it captures your snake’s attention. Your snake will then proceed to swallow its food whole (corn snakes are constrictors).
- Give your water fresh water daily.
- Know where to keep your corn snake. A baby corn snake can adequately live in a ten-gallon aquarium, although you could purchase a bigger one (say, 20-gallon) to accommodate it until it reaches its full size. Make sure that you supply the aquarium with the right substrate (bedding): butcher paper, paper towels, or reptile bark. Keep about 1/3 of the aquarium heated at 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Because snakes are cold-blooded and cannot produce their own body heat, having artificial heating is important for them. Do not use heat lamps. The heat must come from the base of the aquarium.
- Clean the cage about once every three weeks. You don’t have to do it more often since corn snakes don’t shed very much. Do scoop out its poo as often as possible.
- Provide hiding places for your corn snake. It’s best to prepare these three: one in the middle, one in the cold side of the aquarium, and one in the heated side. Hiding places help make the snake feel secure. You should also provide him a place to climb on. Never ever put two corn snakes in one aquarium, unless you wish to breed your corn snake. In this case, consult a veterinarian for instructions on how to cohabit snakes.
Taking care of a corn snake is very exciting and would probably up your coolness factor among your friends, but be sure that you’re ready for the commitment! Have fun!