Part of caring for pet corn snakes involves bathing them and allowing them to relax in the water. There’s far more to giving corns access to water than simply staying clean.
This guide looks at why corn snakes like water and how to bathe your corn snake. This covers everything from the temperature of the water to how and where they should be bathed.
- 1 Can Corn Snakes Go in Water?
- 1.1 Do Corn Snakes Swim in the Wild?
- 1.2 Can Baby Corn Snakes Swim?
- 1.3 Do Corn Snakes Like Baths?
- 1.4 How Long Can Corn Snakes Hold Their Breath Underwater?
- 1.5 How to Bathe a Corn Snake
- 1.6 How to Bathe a Snake
- 1.7 Bathing a Snake Checklist
- 1.8 Other Related Articles:
Can Corn Snakes Go in Water?
Corn snakes can and do go in the water. They ‘know’ when to bathe both in the wild and when in captivity. They do this to soften up their skin before they shed.
This is essential, because if they don’t soften and loosen their skin, then their shed could come off in patches and cause complications. The reduced blood flow can cause necrosis or death.
And bathing behavior isn’t just something you see in captivity. It’s based on their lives in the wild.
Do Corn Snakes Swim in the Wild?
Just think of the natural habitat of a corn snake. They live in the south-eastern United States, anywhere between New Jersey and Florida. They don’t like hot and arid deserts like you might picture most snakes enjoying.
They prefer fields, forests and trees, and rocky areas. In places like these, you’re going to find plenty of water, and a corn snake’s ideal environment at home should reflect that.
Corn snakes, like many other snakes, are mobile in water. They can swim around like eels.
Can Baby Corn Snakes Swim?
The babies of corn snakes naturally know how to bathe because of their wild ancestry. You don’t have to teach them. However, you should be aware that baby corn snakes are even more susceptible to cool temperatures than older ones. This is because they’re smaller and lose their body heat quicker. You also need to know how to pick up a corn snake correctly.
You, therefore, must be careful to make the bath the correct temperature. Snakes have preferences just like we do. Your snakes might be frightened at the idea of swimming. If so—they’ll seem agitated, and like they want to get out straight away—don’t force them to.
The adverse effects of stressing them out far outweigh the benefits of forcing them to bathe. If your snakes don’t like to soak, whether they’re babies or adults, make sure to keep the humidity high in their enclosure. Regular water spraying helps.
Do Corn Snakes Like Baths?
All corn snakes need is warm water and a bowl, and they’ll be happy. Your aim in raising a corn snake should always be to either replicate or improve upon their natural habitat.
That’s why corn snakes live longer as pets than in the wild. According to the UK’s Royal Veterinary College, wild corn snakes live up to 20 years in captivity.
You have several bathing options. You can provide a small bowl for them to sit in, or you can bathe them in the bathtub. Don’t fill up the tub too high, though. Make sure they can comfortably raise their head out of the water, and they’ll be happy.
Here’s some advice on why you probably shouldn’t put two corn snakes together.
How Long Can Corn Snakes Hold Their Breath Underwater?
First things first, a corn snake drowning is unheard of. Corn snakes, like any other animal, aren’t stupid. They know if they haven’t had enough air.
The design of the bowl and the vivarium should also be such that they can easily get out of their ‘bath.’ And, not only that, but they can hold their breath for quite a long time too.
It’s not clear exactly how long a snake will hold its breath, because nobody wants to test it. However, it’s at least a few minutes. They’ll also happily sit underwater for an hour at a time, coming up for air every once in a while. They can ‘bathe’ on their own, although it’s best to keep an eye on them.
How to Bathe a Corn Snake
The question of how to bathe a snake isn’t easily answered. It’s not just about running the faucet and letting them splash around. If you’re not careful, you could hurt or even kill your snake. In the next section, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about avoiding these sort of problems.
What Temperature Should a Snake Bath Be?
The water temperature should be about the same as the vivarium. That’s between about 80 and 85 degrees. Not too hot, but not cold either.
Remember, snakes are ectothermic. This means that they don’t produce their own body heat, so cooling them down too much with cold water isn’t good for them.
Not only that but being in water that’s too hot isn’t good for them either. Here’s a simple rule of thumb: If the water feels warm to you, it’s too hot for your snake.
It’s not supposed to be a nice warm bath like you would have. Your body temperature is about 98 degrees, so if the water feels warm, it’s warmer than that—and that’s far too hot for a snake.
The water should feel slightly cooler than your skin.
The water should be clean water, ideally filtered water or spring water. Using tap water or chlorinated water can irritate their skin.
You can either use purchased bottled water or water from a filter tap at home. Using water that isn’t filtered can result in parasites, as pointed out in this paper from AVS.
The water also shouldn’t be too high. It should be low enough that they can easily raise their head above the water level, but high enough that they can completely submerge themselves.
How to Bathe a Snake
Bathing a snake is easy. It’s so easy that you probably won’t even have to help.
Every vivarium should have a bowl of water in it, either like a regular pet bowl or something that looks a little more natural. Either way, this bowl isn’t just for drinking.
When necessary, it should also be for bathing. Preferably, keep or put a bathing bowl in a separate enclosure. This allows you a chance to sterilize and dry their living space.
If they can’t quite get inside the bowl, you may have to help them, but they’ll probably be able to get inside on their own. Once they’re in, leave them be.
Let them move or swim around. Don’t worry because they can’t drown. Like we pointed out, they can hold their breath, and they may choose to submerge themselves for a little while.
That’s normal. You don’t have to wash them with soap or shampoo. Trust in your corn snake to know what they need to do.
After about ten to fifteen minutes, they’re probably ready to come out. If you notice that they are agitated and can’t get out of the bowl on their own, you should give them a helping hand.
Dry them off completely before you put them back in their living space. You should also be aware that snakes tend to defecate after they bathe, so leave them for a few minutes to do so in a separate enclosure before you put them back.
Bathing a Snake Checklist
Here’s a checklist of how to bathe a snake, right from the very beginning. Once you’re used to the process, you’ll remember it off by heart. For now, make sure you follow it strictly.
- Choose where to bathe your snake. A bathtub or a bowl in an enclosure is preferable.
- Ensure that, no matter where you bathe them, you have a thermometer to gauge the temperature of the water. It should be 80-85 degrees.
- If the bowl is in a vivarium, you can keep the water warm by using a heat mat underneath. If you didn’t know, this is standard practice anyway (to have a heat mat that keeps half of their vivarium warm, and the other half stays cool).
- It’s best to let them bathe in a separate area to their vivarium. Use the time that they’re soaking to clean their living space.
- Leave them to swim and float around for ten to fifteen minutes. This is all that’s necessary. If they get agitated at any point, let them get out.
- Make sure you have a fluffy towel to dry them off afterward. When your snake has finished swimming about in the water, they’ll likely be hungry. So, here’s some advice on what corn snakes prefer to eat.
And that’s all you need to know about bathing a corn snake. Above all, be careful, and don’t force them to do anything they don’t want to.