Keeping Corn Snakes As Pets
As exotic pets go, corn snakes make a good choice for beginners. They come in a variety of colors, are docile by nature and enjoy being handled, as well as being fairly easy to care for. Here are some tips on how to keep a pet corn snake healthy.
To be a responsible pet owner, you will need to be prepared to commit time and energy to caring for your snake. Corn snakes can live for around 18 years, so bear this in mind before you buy one. Reptiles have very different needs to cats or dogs, and you will need to make sure you have the right equipment to provide your snake with a suitable place to live.
You will need to take into account how big your snake could grow. Corn snakes can reach 4-6ft long when mature. They aren't especially active creatures, but will need a reasonably sized vivarium or aquarium with a secure lid. As a guide, for each foot of snake, provide at least 1 square foot of floor space. The height of the tank should be around a third of the snake's length. If you buy your snake as a hatchling, give it a proportionately smaller enclosure to begin with so as to avoid causing it stress.
For the substrate there are various products on sale in exotic pet shops, such as aspen shavings or Astroturf, or you could use paper towels. Make sure you remove any soiled substrate when necessary and disinfect the entire tank every 3-5 weeks, using a reptile-safe solution.
You should provide objects for your snake to hide in, and to climb on, as it would in the wild. For hiding places, you could use small cardboard boxes or toilet roll tubes, or shop-bought hides, which have the advantage of being cleanable so they can be reused. For climbing, branches and rocks can be purchased, or you could use ones from the garden if you sterilise them first to kill any harmful bugs. Plastic plants can be used, as some real plants may be harmful.
Corn snakes ideally need a temperature gradient of 21-30C, providing both warm and cool areas in the tank, so they can thermo-regulate by moving to different areas. To do this, use a thermostatically-regulated heat mat under a third of the floor space.
Corn snakes in captivity can be fed mainly on mice, depending on their size. Hatchlings can eat "pinkies" (baby mice), one every 5-6 days. As you snake grows, it can start to have a larger mouse every 1-2 weeks. Larger snakes may need two mice per feed. It's important to use frozen mice, thawed to room temperature, as live rodents could injure your pet.