Snakes are less common than other pets, so you might not know what corn snakes should eat. Corns, like all snakes, are obligate carnivores. This means that they should be fed a meat-based diet.
Corn snakes eat rodents (mice and rats), eggs, moles, bats, lizards, birds, and anything similar to what they eat in the wild. Feed corns non-wild food that is free from viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
We’ll start by looking at what corn snakes like to eat, and which foods you should avoid feeding corns completely. We’ll then detail a corn’s dietary requirements and how often corn snakes should be fed.
What Foods Can Corn Snakes Eat?
Corn snakes are constrictor snakes. This means that they catch their prey first with their mouth, but squeeze it to death rather than envenomation.
Corn snakes lack any functional venom and are harmless to humans. Their teeth are too small to do you severe damage, although a bite from a corn snake will hurt, so don’t feed them by hand.
Corn snakes prefer live prey. However, you can teach corn snakes to eat pre-thawed frozen food. You can get a 50-pack of frozen fuzzy mice by UGRodents on Amazon. This will take care of your snake’s food requirements for several months. Just store the food away in your freezer.
Of course, this is more convenient, and less gruesome. But, what does a corn snake prey on? Let’s look at a corn snake’s natural diet, and how you can replicate a corn snake’s dietary requirements at home.
What do Corn Snakes Eat in the Wild?
A corn snake’s favorite food in the wild is small, live rodents. Corn snakes are referred to as rat snakes because their natural diet consists mostly of rodents, birds, and tiny frogs.
Corn snakes were most commonly found near granaries and other food stores, where they could catch the rats and mice that lived nearby.
Because corn snakes are a North American species, they don’t feed on tropical rodents or animals in the wild. And the smaller the snake, the smaller the prey. Young corn snakes feed primarily on newborn mice.
Corn snakes are obligate carnivores. This means that they have to eat meat in their diet. If you fed them on vegetables and gave them nothing else, they wouldn’t be getting the nutrients that they need to thrive.
Can Corn Snakes Eat Eggs?
Almost every kind of snake either can feed on eggs. but eggs shouldn’t be the primary part of your corn snake’s diet, because they don’t contain all of the vitamins and nutrients that corn snakes need.
In the wild, alongside their diet of small rodents, they eat little birds’ eggs (e.g., quail eggs) that offer good nutritional value and are the right size. You can feed them small eggs as a treat every now and again.
Can Corn Snakes Eat Fish?
The species that will eat fish include:
- North American water snakes
- Garter snakes
- Common grass snakes
- Viperina snakes
- Asian keelbacks
- Cottonmouth snakes
- Sea kraits, and any other species of sea snake
However, it’s unlikely that your corn snake will want to eat fish. There is also a chance that it might give them digestive problems.
If you do choose to give your corn snake some fish filet, only give them a small piece and see how they react and whether they like it. If they do like it, then you can feed it to them occasionally.
Can Corn Snakes Eat Chicken?
Corn snakes often attack birds’ nests. They’re easy targets. Most birds, aside from birds of prey, are small and can’t harm a snake. Eggs provide nutrition, but any chicks and hatchlings offer the perfect meal.
Corn snakes eat chicken. Just take the following guidelines into account:
- Corn snakes eat live prey in the wild. That being said, this prey may bite or otherwise hurt your snake. It’s unlikely that a small, live chick would harm your snake, however, so live or dead food is okay.
- Whole, adult chickens aren’t typical food for corn snakes. However, according to the Journal of Herpetology, small chicks and hatchlings are prey for many snakes. The meal size should be proportionate to the size and age of your snake.
Never feed your snake raw chicken. Store-bought chickens can contain salmonella, which will kill corn snakes. They also wouldn’t want to eat processed chicken, because it would smell completely different.
Can Corn Snakes Eat Vegetables?
Corn snakes are obligate carnivores and won’t eat vegetables. That means they have to have meat in their diet to survive.
You can still try them on certain vegetables as a snack if you like. The odds are that they won’t recognize what you’re offering as food.
Can Corn Snakes Eat Toads & Frogs?
Corn snakes can eat toads and frogs, but it’s not recommended:
- Your corn snake might grow to prefer toads and frogs if you offer them regularly from when they’re young. Because they’re difficult to source, there may be a problem if your frogs are out of season or are too expensive to source.
- Your frogs may have come into contact with parasites or pesticides. These could be harmful to your snake. Even preparing the frogs might not be enough to kill bacteria, fungus or similar that could hurt them.
- Many amphibians, like small toads and frogs, are poisonous and aren’t eaten in the wild. Poison dart frogs may have parasites, for example.
Avoid feeding your snake wild-caught prey to prevent these risks.
Can Corn Snakes Eat Insects?
Insects offer an entirely different nutritional profile. Other types of reptiles can live on insects, but corn snakes can’t.
This applies to tiny insects to big insects, like crickets. And if you were to ask can corn snakes eat spiders, we’d give you the same answer.
Can Corn Snakes Eat Worms?
Earthworms and mealworms are typical food for some reptiles, mostly lizards. However, they aren’t a part of a corn snake’s natural diet.
Mealworms have a hard exoskeleton, especially if they’ve been dried. Scientifically speaking, they’re chitinous: their outer shell is made from chitin, the substance that crustaceans and insects use as a flexible but robust ‘armor.’ Your corn snake would find these hard to digest.
Not only that, but because worms of any kind aren’t a natural source of food for corn snakes, they won’t even try to eat it.
Corn Snake Dietary Requirements
Corn snakes eat their prey whole. This means that you have to feed them appropriately-sized food, whatever you give them.
As a guideline, don’t give them anything that’s more than one and a half times the size of their head. Otherwise, they’d struggle to eat it because they don’t chew, and they don’t take small bites.
Basic Corn Snake Diet
Corn snakes should eat mice and other rodents of a similar size. The trick is to pick the right size of prey for the age and size of your snake.
- Hatchling Corn Snakes: Feed your hatchling snake pinkie mice. These are baby mice that are killed before they grow a coat, hence their pink color. These are between 0.5 and 1-inch long, and about 2-3 grams each. You can buy pinkie mice on Amazon.com.
- Adult Corn Snakes: Feed your adult snake ‘fuzzies’. You can buy fuzzies on Amazon.com. These are baby mice that are a few days old and had a chance to start growing their coat before they died. They’re slightly bigger, between 1 and 1.5 inches long. They can weigh between 5 and 9 grams, depending on their age (younger fuzzies are called ‘pink fuzzies,’ which are perfect for younger adult corn snakes).
- Extra Large Corn Snakes: Very large corn snakes can eat extra-large prey. Ask for hoppers or weanlings, depending on the size of your corn snake. Hoppers are up to 2 inches long; weanlings are between 2.5 inches long.
Corn snakes don’t need a varied diet in the same way that humans do. They’re happy eating the same food week in, week out.
If you do want to give them some food as a treat every once in a while, try quail eggs. They’re the perfect size for them to eat, and they’re not too far from their natural diet either.
How Often Do Corn Snakes Eat?
There’s a standard diet regimen in the corn snake owners’ community called the Munson feeding plan, which gives an approximate guide to what you should feed your corn snake and when.
It’s based on the weight of your snake, so before you start feeding them, check how much they weigh with some basic scales. The plan is as follows:
|Snake Size||Amount of Food||No. of Days|
|4 –15g||1 Pinkie (0.5 – 3g)||4 to 5 days|
|16 – 23g||Small Fuzzy (3 – 6g)||5-6 Days|
|24 – 30g||Fuzzy (7 – 9g)||6-7 Days|
|30 – 50g||Fluff / Hoppers (7 – 12g)||6-7 Days|
|51 – 90g||Small Adult / Weaned (13-18g)||7 Days|
|170g+||Large (19 to 25g)||7+ Days|
|400g+||Extra Large (30g +)||10 Days|
Grams are more accurate for smaller measurements than pounds and ounces, which is why they’re recommended for measuring small corn snakes. Common kitchen scales should be able to measure in grams.
Here some info on how long corn snakes can survive without food.
Do Corn Snakes Eat When Shedding?
Corn snakes grow quickly and can reach five feet in length. However, their skin isn’t designed to stretch to fit their size. As such, corn snakes shed their skin every few weeks when they’re still small and growing. The time between sheds increases as they age.
Some corns refuse to eat in the time before they shed. This lasts a few days, and it’s called the blue phase.
Their colors and patterns will also grow darker at this point. This change in coloration will clear up, and your snake will look normal again. Then 3 or 4 days later, they’ll start their shed again.
During this time, they may find it hard to digest and won’t bother eating. But don’t worry. Shedding doesn’t take long, and they’ll have their appetite back when they’re done. All that being said, some corns eat during shedding anyway. Yours might do either.
And remember that allowing your corn snake to bathe in water assists with the shedding process.
Why is My Corn Snake Refusing to Eat?
Shedding isn’t the only reason your corn snake might have decided not to eat. Let’s take a look at some other reasons:
- The food might not be recognizable as food due to temperature or lack of odor.
- Your snake might be agitated due to being overhandled before feeding.
- Your snake may feel too cold. The colder they are, the more sluggish they are generally. Cold temperatures can also lead to poor digestion.
- They might not be hungry yet—i.e., you’re overfeeding them. Stick to the Munson feeding plan above for how much you should five them.
- Your corn snake may not be used to eating frozen food. If the mice aren’t completely thawed, it will put them off. Let a pinkie defrost for 15 minutes before feeding, and large mice for two hours.
- The environment you keep your snake in may have recently changed. This can make them uncomfortable, which puts them off their food.
If your snake is refusing to eat, leave them be. They’ll let you know when they’re next hungry. However, if they seem to be suffering from the ill effects of hunger but still don’t want to eat, consult a snake-savvy vet.
How Do You Get Baby Corn Snakes to Eat?
Baby corn snakes will usually eat a pinkie within the first ten days of their life. However, sometimes hatchling corns don’t want to feed.
It’s unclear why exactly this is the case, but it does happen. There are two techniques to get a baby corn snake to eat that you can use:
- It’s best if your snake’s prey moves. They respond to animation since they feed on live prey. Snakes are also more likely to feed if they’re thirsty. You also have to make sure your snake has somewhere comfortable to digest its meal. An upturned plant pot is perfect.
- If this doesn’t work, the least stressful method is to “brain” the pinkie. You’ll need the smallest pinkie you can find, a knife or toothpick, and a strong stomach. You need to expose the pinkie’s brain so that the snake can smell it and recognize it as food. More than often, this works. Your snake will then recognize future pinkies as food.
- If this fails, and your corn snake still refuses to eat, you can try to encourage them using “tease feeding.” This should be your last resort because it’s stressful for your snake. Hold your snake in your hands, and gently tap the pinkie against their nose (repeatedly, if necessary) using tweezers. This should encourage him to strike his prey. If this doesn’t work, brain the pinkie before you tease feed your snake.
Do Corn Snakes Eat Less in Winter?
Corn snakes go through snake winter anorexia. At first, you might be worried that there’s something wrong, but it’s normal behavior.
Cooler temperatures encourage snakes—as cold-blooded reptiles—to stop being so active and to go into a state called brumation.
This is similar to hibernation in mammals, where the snake finds a spot where they can be out of the weather. Changes in air pressure and day length can also trigger this response.
This period of low activity and hunger can last an entire winter. Snakes are efficient creatures. Even during regular activity, they still only need to eat once a week. They can go 3-5 months without feeding with no ill effects.
Corn snakes are natural predators that love small rodents, tiny chicks, and eggs. Don’t try to force them to eat anything that’s against their nature.