A Corn Snake Introduction

The Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttatus) is a North American species of rat snake. It is found throughout the south eastern and central United States. Their docile nature, reluctance to bite, moderate adult size, attractive pattern, and comparatively simple care make them commonly kept pet snakes. In there natural environment they are seen as beneficial as the lack functional venom and help control wild rodent pests that damage crops and carrier disease.
The corn snake is one the most popular snakes in the UK hobby and have been captive bred for several decades.


Glass, Wood or Plastic escape proof enclosures.
Start with a small enclosure for a baby, around 30-40cm long.
Adults are fine in a 60cm long vivarium.
Provide internal decor such as a water bowl, branches, hides & plants.


The corn snake should be kept in an enclosure with a temperature gradient of 80-90 Frahreheit warm side for 10-12 hours per day with a small drop at nights.
Heat about 1/3 of the enclosure using a basking spot lamp on a dimmer thermostat and appropriate heat guard or alternatively a heat mat can  be used.
To maintain the night temperature you should use a ceramic heater on a on-off thermostat set at 80 Fahrenheit, during the day the heater will not be active as the basking lamp will keep it above 80.
Also use at least one thermostat to double check the enclosure temperatures.

UVB Lighting

Corn snake do not require UVB to use the calcium in their diet like other some other reptiles but some keepers do provide full spectrum lighting — 2% will suffice.

Decorations, Hides & Substrate

Decorating the vivarium is much more than making the enclosure look visually appealing, there is a huge range of products to choose from and can be very rewarding.
Deco can be very functional and will help maintain the enclosure in a way that makes your corn snake feel safe and secure.
A minimum of two hides should be provided, one for the cool side and one for the warm side.
Natural or artificial rock, resin decoration, branches and artificial plants all make good additional choices for the enclosure.

Food and Water

Corn snakes are carnivorous and should be fed frozen thawed food.
The best choice is generally mice of an appropriate size, if the corn snake is a large adult they can be moved onto smaller sized rats.

A hatchling corn snake should be fed weekly on defrosted pinky mice and as the snake grows the food size should be increased. As an adult they can be fed every two weeks, normally the food item should be of a size that leaves a small bulge either side of the snake after it is consumed. If you are over feeding the snake the gaps between its scales will start to increase and the snake can become obese. If you start to see this ease back on the food size offer or the frequency of feeding.

Alternatives to mice are chicks, gerbils, hamsters and multimamate mice, these can be used as a occasional food or if the snake wont accept mice.

Fresh drinking water should be provided as all times.
A medium or large water bowl is required in the enclosure and the snake can be seen readily drinking from it.
The corn snake may also be seen bathing in the water bowl to cool down or to help loosen its shedding skin.
If you planning on having several animals we recommend using deli cups that can be put inside the water bowl and discarded them after use and use new deli cup for each water change.
This way you are not mixing several water bowls during cleaning and reduce the risk of spreading disease or infection.

Cleaning and Hygiene

Spot clean the enclosure daily removing any waste matter to help keep the enclosure clean at all times.

Complete a full vivarium clean every 4-6 weeks replacing all substrate, clean and disinfect the enclosure and decoration where it is safe to do so.

Just like cats, dogs or other pets; reptiles can carry bacteria (including salmonella), worms or parasites.  

To prevent the spread of infection between yourself and the animal or even between different animals in your care, you should always wash your hands thoroughly before and after cleaning or handling.  

It is also prudent to carry out a faecal check annually or at any time should there be a cause for concern, e.g. you notice runny stools.  

See https://www.palsvetlab.co.ukfor further details. 

A Corn Snake Owner Responsibilities

This guide is designed as a basic overview and reference point for some of the common questions asked relating to corn snake care and setups.
There are several methods to achieve the same result and this information should be read in conjunction with other research, professional advise and subsequent developments and improvements in animal husbandry.

As a pet owner you are legally responsible to ensure that an animal under your care is properly cared for.
Your obligations are to provide the five freedoms of animal welfare.

  1. Freedom from hunger or thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour
  2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
  4. Freedom to express (most) normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind
  5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering