Corn Snakes: A Sweet Serpent

Grace C., Opinion

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Corn Snakes belong to the King Snake family of naturally docile and vibrant colored snakes.
They can live in barns, wooded groves, meadow lands, etc. They could live for about 23 years in
captivity, but not so much in the wild. Corn snakes are slender with a length of 24 to 72 inches (61 to
182 cm). They are usually orange or brownish-yellow, with large, black-edged red blotches down the
middle of the back. On the belly are alternating rows of black and white marks, resembling a
checkerboard pattern. Cimages-2orn snakes are not an endangered species. However, Corn snakes are often
mistaken for copperheads and killed. They are the most frequently bred snake species for pet
purposes. However, they are sometimes captured in the wild to be sold as pets. This does not seem
to pose a serious threat to this species at this time. Corn snakes help to control rodent populations
that may otherwise spread disease.
I suggest that you remove your snake from his home for feeding time. This is recommended for a
couple reasons. First, it allows your snake to concentrate on eating. It also eliminates the danger of
your snake ingesting substrate from it’s home while eating. Many breeders ship hatchlings in delicups
punched with air holes. These deli-cups work great as feeding containers. As your snake grows,
just get something a bit bigger for “dinner time.” Find a container with a tight fitting lid, and remember
to put small holes in it. Disposable food storage containers work great. Your corn snake should be fed
captive bred rodents only, because wild prey can transfer parasites to your snake. The general rule is
to feed a food item that is the same size around in the tummy area as the snake is. Too big a food
item can cause the snake to regurgitate the undigested portion of it’s meal after a couple days or so.
This is dangerous and can be deadly for your corn snake. The best thing to do is prevent regurgitation
by feeding the proper size food item and making sure the “warm” side of your snake’s enclosure is at
the proper temperature. Hatchlings can be fed every 5-7 days. Adults, however, shouldn’t be fed that
often. Feeding them every 10-14 days is acceptable. It’s recommended that you feed frozen/thawed
rodents. Fresh water should always be available in a shallow, heavy bowl. Clean out the bowl every
few days or sooner if it is soiled. Place the bowl in a cage corner so it can be easily found as the
snake cruises the cage perimeter at night.
Baby corn snakes can easily live in a plastic vivarium the size of a large shoebox for the first
several months of their lives. Adult corn snakes need a cage at least the size of a 20-gallon long
aquarium, but bigger is even better. Snakes are not social animals, so cage mates are quite stressful.
House only one corn snake to a cage. All snakes are escape artists, so make sure the cage is
absolutely escape proof. Climbing branches may be appreciated, but a couple of dark, tight hides are
essential to help the snake feel secure. No special lighting is required, but natural light from nearby
windows will help your corn snake adjust its day and night cycles, and its seasonal cycles. Be careful
to avoid direct sunlight shining into the cage, or the temperatures could quickly become lethal.
Provide a temperature gradient with a light, or under tank heat pad or cable. On the warm end 85
degrees Fahrenheit is perfect, and room temperatures (low 70s) are fine for the cool end. One long,
skinny hide, such as a hollow log or PVC pipe, can be placed so one end of the hide is cool and one
end is warm. Be sure to check the temperature inside the warm end of the hide and not on the glass.
Temperatures can vary quite a bit within just a few inches, so thermometer and hide box placement is
important. Misting the enclosure often causes fungus and mold. If the corn snake sheds its skin in
pieces, increase humidity inside the hide box by adding a clump of damp moss or paper towel
whenever the snake prepares to shed. Remove this damp filler in between sheds to avoid buildup of
bacteria, mold, etc. Most breeders use aspen shavings as bedding because it is absorbent, soft and
holds its shape when snakes burrow. Cypress mulch also works, but avoid aromatic woods such as
pine or cedar. Newspaper and reptile carpet also suffice, but the corn snake tends to get under it
whenever possible. Avoid sand because it may cause impactions if ingested.
Hatchling corn snakes are naturally nervous and defensive. Although it is normal for baby corn
snakes to flee, hide or defend themselves, it is also true that they have no real ability to harm you. A
white mouse or a cat that plays too roughly with its owner can do far more damage than even the
white mouse or a cat that plays too roughly with its owner can do far more damage than even the
largest corn snake. It is important to give a new corn snake a few weeks to settle into its new home
and into a regular feeding routine before stressing it with unnecessary handling. After three or four
successful meals, start handling your corn snake for short periods, except for the first two to three
days after a meal. Be sure to approach the corn snake from the side rather than the top like a predator
would do. Lift it up gently but with confidence. Hesitation scares the corn snake, and makes it likely to
hide or bite. If needed, use lightweight cotton gloves to bolster confidence for as long as needed.
Once the corn snake begins to realize that you are not going to eat it, and also that it needs to calm
down to regain the security of its quiet cage, it will usually tame quickly and become very used to
handling.
Corn Snakes are good pets if you spend the correct amount of time with them. They will want to
be your companion and will want attention from you when needed. Love them with all your heart and
they will be the right pet for you! images-1

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Corn Snakes: A Sweet Serpent