Keeping two corn snakes in one cage appears to be a very good way of saving money. You don’t need to duplicate your costs, and it makes life easier because you don’t have to clean out two snake enclosures. But snakes aren’t social creatures, and don’t dislike the company of other snakes.
Two males corns or one male and one female corn snake should live separately. Putting two corns together can result in unwanted breeding, stress, the spread of parasites or disease, aggression, and even cannibalism. However, two female corn snakes that are about the same size may be able to live together in the same tank.
We’ll begin by explaining why corn snakes shouldn’t be kept together. After, we’ll take a look at which types of snakes can live in the same container and whether you can keep two female corn snakes in the same tank. As a general rule, it’s best to house your snakes apart, no matter what.
Can Corn Snakes be Kept Together?
Corns are naturally solitary reptiles. They don’t live in packs, hunt together, sleep together, or eat together. They don’t need any company, and they don’t need friends in the same way that humans do.
Imagine if you suddenly had to share your room with a total stranger. That’s how your corn snake would feel living with another snake in the same vivarium. This is the case for all snakes.
It’s not just a question of what they prefer. It’s a question of what will happen if you were to put two corn snakes in one cage.
1) Are Corn Snakes Cannibalistic?
Corn snakes are naturally cannibalistic, like other snakes. So, snakes will eat other snakes. Not always, but it can happen.
This behavior has many causes. One is that female snakes need to recover after pregnancy and can recover their lost energy by eating eggs and dead offspring after birth. Research in Science Daily explored the issue as it related to rattlesnakes, but it also applies to all other types of snakes.
Other snakes, including king snakes and milk snakes, are cannibalistic as a part of their everyday diet. They hunt and kill other smaller snakes as a regular occurrence.
Corn snakes don’t fit into this mold, but they’re opportunistic cannibals. If they need to feed, and they’re in a cage with another smaller snake, then they may eat them.
The key is that the snake they attack is invariably smaller. That’s at the heart of opportunistic cannibalism: the fact that they can attack the other snake with hardly any risk of getting hurt themselves.
The only time you’ll ever have success with two corn snakes in one vivarium is if they’re the same size and if they’ve known each other for a long time. Even then, there’s a chance of one corn being eaten.
2) Aggressive Corn Snake Behavior
You should also know that corn snakes can become aggressive in certain circumstances. On its own, a corn snake is naturally a shy snake. But if you put two corns together, they become competitive and fight.
This is most likely to occur if you feed the two snakes together. Both of them have a natural response to seeing or smelling prey – they both want it, and they’ll both try to get it.
According to a video about a two-headed copperhead on the BBC News website, two-headed snakes don’t often survive. That’s at least partly because the two heads start fighting over food, and attack one another. If a two-headed snake will attack itself, would you think that two separate snakes wouldn’t attack each other?
If you must keep two corn snakes in the same vivarium, whatever you do, separate them before you feed them. Many instances of cannibalism could be explained by fights over food.
One corn snake begins its eating procedure by dislocating its jaw and getting ready to strike. If it gets confused with regards to where the smell of prey is coming from, then it might strike at another corn snake’s tail, and begin to squeeze it. Once they get to that point, they don’t stop.
3) Corn Snake Mating
Corn snakes, like all animals, mate. But that instinct may kick in, regardless of age, during the breeding season. Their natural mating season is roughly between March and May, but in vivarium conditions, they may mate outside of this season too.
Most corn snakes reach maturity between 18 and 24 months, at which point they will be adult size, although the rule of thumb is three years. The problem with unexpected mating is that it can be fatal for young corn snakes when they’re not quite ready to breed.
If the female snake is too young or too small to breed, then having eggs will result in egg binding. This is where an egg takes too long to pass out of the reproductive tract.
This is quickly fatal if left untreated. If you’re unfamiliar with the subject, here’s some additional information about how snakes reproduce.
4) Corn Snake Diseases
Corn snakes get viruses and diseases. Both viral and bacterial infections can cause problems for a snake. One such issue is Inclusion Body Disease (IBD), which affects constrictors.
IBD causes a range of unpleasant symptoms: staring upwards, breathing problems and paralysis. IBD is caused by a virus in the arenavirus family, which causes infections in humans too (hemorrhagic fever).
If any snake has IBD, keep them quarantined. It’s highly contagious, and will easily pass from one snake to another in the same vivarium.
There is another virus that causes almost identical symptoms, but comes from a different virus family. These are paramyxoviruses, which act even quicker than arenaviruses, and can kill your corn within a week.
What Snakes Can Live Together?
You can house rat snakes together, so long as they’re the same size. It’s also best if they’re different sexes (see the section below). But, there aren’t any snakes that should live together.
There isn’t such a thing as a ‘social’ snake. No snake benefits from being in a vivarium with other snakes, and you leave yourself open to all the problems that we’ve described above.
It’s an age-old debate in herpetology because some people have kept snakes together for years with no problems, whereas others have nightmare stories about their pet snakes eating each other.
Don’t house snakes together if you’re new to caring for corn snakes.
Can Two Female Corn Snakes Live Together?
You have to make sure that the two snakes are the same size and act comfortably around one another. Snakes are by nature asocial and don’t need a companion. And both males and females will fight over food.
If you are going to house two corns together, follow these guidelines:
- Snakes need to be the same size. Make sure that the two snakes are the same size. This prevents cannibalism, and prevents the bigger snake from bullying and dominating the smaller one. Smaller snakes might not eat because of stress, and might not even get the chance because the bigger one eats all their food.
- Large enough vivarium, but not too big. There should be sufficient room that they have their own ‘personal space,’ i.e., a place for them to hide. All snakes like hiding places that are big enough for them to curl up in. There should also be ample room for them to climb, e.g., on branches, rocks, and stones. Too much space causes vulnerability.
- Temperature and humidity requirements. Make sure that the vivarium has the correct temperature and humidity. According to Reptiles.com, corns need 40-50% humidity. The two sides to a corn’s enclosure should have different temperatures. The cool side should be 75-82°F and the warm side should be 80-85°F.
Even so, it would be wiser to keep corn snakes separate and to bathe corn snakes separately. There’s no reason to keep them together but adhering to these rules if you must.