Housing Corn Snakes is very easy. What you will need are an appropriate sized enclosure, Hatchlings to yearlings would need a 20 gallon long, and Yearlings to end of life can live happily in a 30 to 40 gallon long. Be sure that the lid shuts very tightly as corns are master escape artists. Next you will need substrate of some sort. The most widely used substrate is shredded aspen or Sani-Chips. You will need to put about 2 inches of this in the bottom of the enclosure. A water dish is a must, and it will need to be large enough that the snake can submerse his/her whole body in. Finally you will need hides. Hides can be anything that will allow the corn to get out of site. You can find these at any local pet shop, or you can make them at home with items you have (be sure to sterilize anything that you use from your home and check to make sure there are no sharp edges).
An Under Tank Heater (UTH)is the most widely used provider of heat for most snakes. A UTH is a pad that you can attach directly on the bottom of your tank. You then plug it into an outlet and you have heat. One thing to remember, a UTH will get very hot, so you will want to invest in some kind of Temp control like a thermostat or Rheostat. And, make sure that you are using a Digital Thermometer with a wired probe attached directly on top of the UTH. Next, you can use a Ceramic Heat Emitter (CHE). A CHE is actually a bulb that doesn’t produce light. The CHE can be used in a reflective ceramic bulb housing and pointed at the top of the enclosure to provide ambient air heat. You will want to use this in conjunction with a UTH so that you have Ambient Air and Belly heat for your snake. Finally, you can use Incandescent bulbs for heat as well as light. If you do this, make sure that the wattage on the bulb is ok for your size enclosure (20 gallon Long will require a 60 watt or lower). You will also have to use a white light for day time and either a night- glo or red light for night time.
Corn Snakes do not require any special lighting to thrive. Unlike most reptiles, Corns get their calcium from the bones of their food. Because of this, you do not need to worry about UVB or UVA lighting. However, if you are using your enclosure as a display piece, fluorescent lighting might be nice to allow viewers to see the tank. You will not want to use Black or Blue lighting as this is known to cause problems with your snakes.
Corn Snakes are one of the most docile snakes that you can keep as pets. However, you might run into a few of them that are snappy or just have an attitude. To handle your corn, you will need to set aside all fear of getting bit (owning a snake requires you to do this). Corns do have very small serrations that count as teeth, and can latch on to human extremities. But, they don’t have fangs, so you won’t have to worry about bites like that. To pick up your corn, you will need to open the enclosure, remove any hides, and let your snake settle down for about 5 minutes. Then while he/she is out checking things out, just pick him/her up about the middle of their body and then hold on with both hands. Just don’t squeeze too tight. Allow the snake to get used to you holding him/her and just relax. You snake will soon come to enjoy being held and it can be a very fun experience for the both of you. If you happen to be one that is unlucky enough to get a very snappy and irritable corn (and this doesn’t happen often), the best way to handle the snake is to get a short hook that you can use inside to lift the corn out of his/her enclosure, and then run your hand up the tail towards the head. Using this method will save a lot of frustration caused by being snapped at, hissed at, or bitten. You can get hooks just about anywhere. Just do a Google search on “Snake Hooks” and you will find a plethora of information.
Corn Snakes in captivity are fed primarily rodents (Mice and Rats). As a hatchling, your corn will start out eating pinky mice and move up to larger sized mice has he or she grows. The common rule of thumb for feeding size is that the food item must be no bigger than 1 1/2 time larger than the largest area of girth on the snake. Now that said, you will also want to watch your snake’s activity after you have fed him/her. If, after feeding, your snake is out racing around seemingly looking for more food, then it is time to upgrade the amount of feeding. The frequency of the feedings will depend on the age of the snake, and its feeding behavior. From Hatchling to Yearling, you will want to feed appropriate sized meals every 5 days. Yearlings to 2 year olds you will want to slow down to 7 to 12 days. After 2 years old, you can slow the feeding down even more to 14 to 20 days apart. If your corn declines a meal, don’t get upset, as snakes can go 6 weeks and longer without food. First thing you do is place the snake back into his/her enclosure. Then get rid of the food item, or feed it to the next snake in line. Wait 5 days or until the next feeding day, and offer food to the non eater. Rule of Thumb, never offer food everyday to a non eating snake, as you can make the snake refuse that particular food item from then on. It is recommended that you feed Frozen Thawed (F/T) Mice as these will not be able to harm your snake. Pinks and Fuzzies are ok to feed live as they can’t bite the snake. After you start to get into Hoppers and Adults, the mice have teeth and will try and defend themselves from the snake. This can result in Major damage to the snake in the form of bites. You can get F/T Mice from your local pet shop, or you can order in bulk off the web.
The skin of your snake does not grow with your snake. Because of this, your snake will shed at least once a month. During this time, your snake may or may not eat, will be very irritable and snappy, and sometimes may look very sad. But, all this is normal and when the shedding cycle is complete, will be back to his/her normal self. There are three noticeable stages to shedding in snakes. They are the Blue Phase, Clear Phase, and the Sloughing Phase. Blue Phase is the first sign that your snake is getting ready to shed. During this time, the eye caps on the snake will turn opaque and look blue. This is a very stressful time for your snake as he/she won’t be able to see very well. The snake is suffering just like a human with a cataract during this time. This is where you will mostly see an attitude change. The Blue Phase should only last 3 to 5 days (might be even shorter) depending on the snake. After the Blue Phase, the eyes will clear up, and your snake will become very active, constantly moving around and rubbing his/her head against everything in the enclosure. The Clear Phase starts just after the Blue Phase has cleared up. This is the time when your snake will be extremely active, constantly rubbing over anything and everything in the enclosure to try and get the skin loose. After the skin has started to come loose, your snake has entered the Sloughing Phase. The Clear Phase can take up to 3 days to complete. The Sloughing Phase is the fastest of all the phases, and will be completed within a matter of minutes. This is where the snake is removing his/her skin. During this time, you should be able to watch, and possibly hold the snake as he/she is shedding. During the entire shedding process, your snake needs to have higher humidity, and a water bowl that is large enough for him/her to submerse his/her whole body in. These two things will greatly help the shed to go as smoothly as possible. If your snake is having problems with a shed, then you can help out by doing the following: Raising the humidity Have fresh water in a large dish for soaking If the shed breaks half way through the shed, then you might need to help the snake out a bit. This can be done by using damp paper towels (Be sure they are about the same temp as the enclosure). Pick up your snake and wrap in the paper towels. Gently squeeze around the snake and allow him/her to slither through your hands and the paper towels. This will help to remove any skin that is still sticking to him.After your snake is completely shed, be sure to check the shedding for the eye caps and the tip of the tail. Be sure that both of these have come off, as retained eye caps can cause blindness,and a retained tail tip can cut of blood flow, and cause the tip of the tail to die and fall off.
First off, don’t panic. Check your Enclosure again and make sure that you didn’t miss him. Be sure to look inside any hides that you have. Check under the substrate, and the water bowl.If you didn’t find him/her with this last check, then you might have an Escaped Snake on your hands. But don’t worry; we are going to help you do everything you can to find your snake. First, close all doors out of the room that your snake is housed. You will also want to cover or close off any air vents that might be in the walls or floors. If your vents are in the ceiling, you should be fine. Second, you will want to look inside and under anything that is directly around your enclosure. Third, expand your search to the rest of the room. Looking under and inside furniture, on drapes, on drape rods, along the merging point of the floor and wall, under the carpet. Fourth, take a 2 liter bottle and cut off the top with the opening in it. Then place a feeder inside. Now place the top back on the bottle, with the pour spout facing the inside and tape it all together. Next take this “trap” and place it in the room you think the snake is in, and put a heat lamp with it to create a hot spot in the room. You snake should go to this “hot spot” to eat and warm. Then just wait and watch.
Corn Snakes – www.pcarsreptiles.com