Many reptile enthusiasts, regardless of their experience level, will be familiar with the corn snake. This nonvenomous breed is a fixture in backyards and a popular pet snake for beginners. A corn snake in captivity requires a specific habitat, bedding, humidity level, and features.
A corn snake needs a vivarium of up to 20 gallons. You will need the right substrate, which is usually aspen shavings or cypress mulch. The temperature needs to be 80 degrees to assist with shedding. A water bowl, two hides, decorations, etc are also essential.
Before bringing a corn snake home, you’ll need a tank ready to house them. A baby corn snake will be intimidated by a large habitat without a hide. However, they will eventually need a more substantial vivarium to accommodate their needs.
What are the Best Corn Snake Tanks?
Let’s start by looking at three possible habitats for adult corn snakes. All of these habitats are available from Amazon:
1) Exo Terra Allglass Terrarium
The variety of this vivarium is ideal for a corn snake. This is a little over 20 gallons, making it larger than a corn snake technically needs. However, provided you fill it with plenty of substrate and hiding places, your snake will be very happy here.
Perhaps the best component of this terrarium is its security. The tank contains two front-opening doors, which makes feeding, cleaning and handling simple.
However, these doors are very solid. Also, they can also be locked from the outside. This means that even the most determined corn snake will not be able to force these doors open.
This sense of safety also applies to the aeration. A ventilation strip at the front of the tank ensures your snake can breathe easily. However, this is not large enough for the snake to crawl through. There is also plenty of space on the ground of this tank and a raised level. This will allow your snake to burrow in their substrate.
Finally, this habitat is recommended due to its aesthetics. This terrarium looks very striking, especially when housed within a wooden cabinet. There is also plenty of space for subtle additions. These could include wired heating lamps and underfloor heating mats, or decorations.
You can check the price of the Exo Terra Allglass Terrarium on Amazon by clicking on this link.
2) Carolina Biological Supply Company Reptile Tank
If you are looking for something basic and budget-friendly, this tank could be ideal. What this tank lacks in frills, it makes up for in sturdiness.
Designed to be equally effective for amphibians and snakes, this tank could be filled with water. This means that your snake will not be able to break out, no matter how hard they try.
This flexibility means that you may need to make some amendments to a traditional tank. The roof of the terrarium is meshed, ensuring that your snake will be able to breathe. However, it is also complete and unhinged, with no holes for a heat lamp.
This means that you may need to consider underground heating instead. The flip side of this is that the roof is very heavy. This means that your corn snake will not be able to lift it and escape.
There are prettier terrariums on the market, this much is certain. However, there is a large surface area that can be coated with substrate and accessories. While it’s plain, to begin with, you can decorate the tank as you see fit.
This means that you could pick up this budget tank, and spend your money on accessories. That may appeal to somebody that has very particular ideas about their snake’s habitat.
You can check the price of the Carolina Biological Supply Company Reptile Tank on Amazon by clicking on this link.
3) Tetra Deluxe Aquatic Turtle Kit
Although this habitat is designed for turtles, it could be suitable for a corn snake. It will undoubtedly be a good starter home for your pet snake. This package comes complete with built-in heat lamps, and many other accessories. This will help your snake bask in luxury.
Not all of the components of this kit are snake-friendly, but don’t let that deter you. There is no obligation to use everything in the box. What is suitable is useful, though. This makes this reptile tank ideal for a beginner, especially a child. Even if you only make use of the heat lamps, it’s a start.
Naturally, however, you will need to take care to ensure your snake is comfortable. As the heat lamps are designed for swimming turtles, keep an eye on the temperature.
If your snake is too hot, you may need to change the bulb to a lower heat. However, the fact that this tank can be filled with water makes it sturdy and reliable.
The roof of this tank is ventilated and opens in two halves. This makes feeding, handling and cleaning very easy. Just be very vigilant about closing the lid firmly afterward. Turtles cannot climb, but snakes can. This means that your corn snake could be a flight risk if you are careless.
You can check the price of the Tetra Deluxe Aquatic Turtle Kit on Amazon by clicking on this link.
Corn Snake Home Requirements
You must ensure that your snake is comfortable and content in their habitat. If a snake does not live in ideal conditions, they quickly become stressed. A stressed snake is often an unwell snake. Save yourself a vet bill, and spare your snake unnecessary stress, by building the optimum home.
What Size Tank Does a Corn Snake Need?
There is a substantial size difference between baby corn snakes and fully-grown corn snakes. A hatchling could easily live in a shoebox for several months. When a corn snake reaches full maturity, they could be around five feet in length.
This means that an adult corn snake will need a vivarium of up to 20 gallons. You could do a little bigger, but remember that snakes fear wide, open spaces due to the threat of predators.
If you are going to place your reptile in a large tank, fill it up. If your snake has plenty of places to hide, they will be fine. If you expect them to negotiate open terrain to feed, they will become stressed. Strategically place logs and other decorations around your snake’s home to keep them feeling safe.
The best possible substrate for corn snakes is a source of much debate. These reptiles are adaptable, so most of the conventional options are available to you.
You could make do with newspaper or kitchen towel, but this is not ideal. The same also applies to a snake carpet. Corn snakes love to burrow, and more substantial substrate will allow them to do so.
Aspen shavings are arguably the best selection for a corn snake, though cypress mulch is also suitable.
Important: Never apply sand to a corn snake’s habitat, as this can be toxic when ingested.
Temperature and Lighting
You will need a heating lamp in one corner of your corn snake’s habitat. This will need to be mirrored by a considerably cooler side of the terrarium. This is so your snake can moderate their temperature naturally. You could use a heating pad instead of a lamp, warming the snake below their belly.
Just remember that doing so will offer no encouragement to your pet snake to be visible. They prefer hiding away, and undersoil heating gives them the opportunity to do so.
A corn snake will need a basking area with a temperature that peaks at 90O. On the other side of their habitat, a temperature of around 70O is required at night.
That means that 80O temperature is an ideal middle ground sweet spot. Invest in a thermometer for your snake home to keep an eye on this. Between the ambient room temperature and a heat lamp, you should be able to maintain consistency.
You will also need to keep an eye on the lighting of your snake’s habitat. As corn snakes are primarily nocturnal, they will be more active at night. Turn their lamps off after lights out, as corn snakes need 12 hours of darkness.
Also, keep this in mind when choosing which room to house your snake in. Busy rooms where lights are flipped on and off with regularity make an unsuitable environment. The natural cycle of daylight will help, but never place your snake’s habitat in direct sunlight.
The optimum level of humidity for a corn snake’s habitat is 30-50%. When the shedding season is closing in, increase the humidity to the higher end of the scale. This will help your snake shed in comfort. Once they have done so, you can reduce the humidity again.
If you have any problems preserving this level of humidity, invest in a spray or mist. Don’t allow a vivarium to get too humid, however; corn snakes are not water-based reptiles.
This can lead to a snake developing problems with their scales. As always, it’s a balancing act. If you have any questions about humidity levels, it’s best to consult a reptile expert.
Corn snakes will flourish most in a bioactive terrarium. To this end, you will be best served by putting many live plants and insects to their habitat. Also, a corn snake will require plenty of places to hide.
You should fill your snake’s habitat with branches, trees, and rocks to aid stimulation and exercise. In addition to a substrate that allows your snake to burrow, they’ll provide plenty to do.
You could buy these from a pet store, or find some in the local woods. Just make sure that you boil these items to sterilize them before placing them in the cage to kill off any parasitic creatures and bacteria.
You will also need to provide your corn snake with a shallow bowl of water. This will primarily be for drinking, but your snake may also cool off in it. Naturally, this means that you’ll have to change the water regularly – at least once per day.
Also, provide at least one hiding box that is barely larger than your snake. This will be somewhere the corn snake can curl up and contentedly hide.
The more you add to your corn snake’s habitat, the more you’ll have to move when cleaning. This should be kept in mind when adding live elements to the terrarium. However, a full clean will not be necessary too often. As long as you perform regular spot cleans to remove waste, once a month should suffice.
How to Make a Bioactive Habitat for Your Corn Snake
When it comes to bioactive insects, the most impactful additions to your snake’s habitat include:
These creepy-crawlies will clean up your snake’s habitat naturally. Some of them also double up as a food source. The hard shells of woodlice, in particular, are a protein source for a hungry snake.
Also, you can pick up some hydro rocks (for draining) and many plants. Just ensure they are safe for your snake to ingest.
These items can be purchased from reptile specialist traders and most pet stores. You could track some down in the wild, but that comes with inherent dangers of illness and disease.
How to Clean a Corn Snake Tank
You will need to completely clean out a corn snake’s habitat around once a month. You may be able to stretch this to two, but that might be risky.
To clean up a terrarium, empty it completely. You will then need to spray a cleaning solution all over the glass. This could be a specialist product from a pet store or a solution of 5% bleach and water. Leave the terrarium to air dry before returning your snake. This means that you’ll need a second, temporary home for such occasions.
In addition to these full cleans, you will need to perform regular spot cleans. That means keeping an eye out for when your snake eliminates and removing the evidence.
This only happens roughly once or twice a week. However, leaving the waste to fester could cause sickness and disease in your snake.
Can I Put Two Corn Snakes in One Tank?
Corn snakes are not particularly sociable animals. If you house two or more corn snakes together, fights are likely. The snakes are most likely to go to war around feeding times.
There have been some success stories of two corn snakes cohabiting, especially when they’re both female, but it’s rare. If you wish to have more than one pet snake, pick up a second habitat. All parties will be happier if the reptiles are housed separately.
What Else is Required for a Corn Snake Habitat?
Of course, it’s not just about the tank that houses your corn snake. Once you have invested in such an item, here are five recommended additions:Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding
We have established that aspen shavings make for arguably the finest corn snake substrate. These bags from Zoo Med can be ordered from Amazon in a variety of sizes. This way, you can be sure that finding substrate will never be a problem.Fluker’s Super Scrub Reptile Habitat Cleaner
If you are worried about using too much bleach in cleaning, pick up a specialist product. This cleaning solution from Fluker’s will get your snake’s habitat shining brightly. The bottle comes with a brush to make cleaning even easier.Mangea VivBright LED Bulb
LED bulbs are usually nice to have, rather than essential. Your corn snake will not necessarily suffer without this addition to their terrarium. However, if you introduce a bioactive nature of the habitat, this bulb helps plant life to grow. Just remember to switch it off for at least twelve hours per day.Exo Terra Plastic Plants
If you decide not to use live plants in your snake’s home, you’ll still need some decoration. These plastic plants from Exo Terra are so realistic you’ll never know the difference. They are available in many shapes and sizes. Perhaps best of all, your snake cannot make themselves sick by eating these leaves.Zoo Med Thermometer and Humidity Gauge
Both of these items are essential. This small and unobtrusive gauge requires no batteries and sticks to the side of a terrarium. You’ll be able to take readings at a glance, making any adjustments to the habitat accordingly.
It can be a lot of work to set up the ideal habitat for a corn snake. This goes double if you bring your snake home as a baby. Young corn snakes go through many growth spurts, and they may need regular rehoming.
Once your corn snake reaches maturity, however, you can set them up in a vivarium that lasts them a lifetime. As captive corn snakes live up for up to two decades, a contented life is essential.
For further information, we strongly recommend reading this complete corn snake care guide.