Corn Snakes

a red and white Corn Snake coiled on some mulch

Are you looking for a new pet snake? If so, you may want to consider the Corn Snake. Corn Snakes are one of the most popular pet snakes in the world and they make great family pets.

Corn Snakes are small to medium-sized snakes that belong to the Rat Snake family. They can grow up to five feet long and have a lifespan of 15-20 years with proper care.

Corn Snakes come in a variety of colors and patterns, including red, orange, yellow, black, white, and gray. They have a distinctive pattern of black spots on their backs that resemble corn kernels. This is where they get their name from.

Corn Snakes are one of the most popular snake breeds. They have calm demeanor and don’t need a lot of care, making them great pets. They don’t get very large which makes it easy for them to be kept as pets for first-time snake owners as well.

Corn Snakes are small to medium length snakes that can be a number of different colors. They are native to the east coast and in the southeastern part of North America but most are found in Florida. 

In the wild Corn Snakes are very fast moving animals, and will move quickly through their habitat. They are also very territorial, and will defend their home against intruders. They are not venomous, and are harmless to humans, but may still bite if they feel threatened.

Corn Snakes are very easy to care for, and will require little maintenance. They are also easy to handle, and will allow you to hold them without fear. They are also very calm, and will not bite unless provoked.

In the wild, these snakes have a life span of 6 to 8 years but in captivity, they can live up to 20 years. Corn Snakes are also sometimes called red rat snakes because they closely resemble the rat snakes.

Corn Snakes are non-venomous and docile snakes that make great pets for beginners. They are easy to handle and are not aggressive. They also don’t need a lot of space, so they can be kept in smaller enclosures.

Overall, Corn Snakes make great pets for those looking for a low-maintenance reptile. They are easy to care for and can provide years of companionship. If you’re looking for a new snake, consider a Corn Snake!

Corn Snake Information

  • Average Length: 3 to 5 feet
  • Average Weight: 2 pounds
  • Snake Type: Rat Snake
  • Skin Appearance: Multi-color with striped or diffused pattern
  • Skin Colors: Red and orange; orange and yellow; and black
  • Grooming Needs: Low
  • Shedding: Every few months
  • Sensitive to Touch: No
  • Biting Tendency: No
  • Tolerance to Heat and Cold: Yes
  • Good Pet: They allow people to hand them, so yes!
  • Safe with Children: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: No
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes
  • Good for Less Experienced Pet Owners: Yes
  • Weight Gain: Normal
  • Health Concerns: Respiratory infections, fungal disease, dermatitis, mites and stomatitis
  • Allergies: None
  • Average Life Span: 15 to 20 years

Physical Appearance of Corn Snakes

a Corn Snake slithering over a piece of wood

Corn Snakes are smaller snakes that have multi-color skin. Though they can have a variety of colors, the most common primary skin colors are orange and red, but some sub species will have white. The most common colors that make up the secondary colors are black, white, tan and yellow.

Because of genetic mutations there are many different patterns that they could have. Their patterns are mainly striped or diffused. Compound variations are when a mixture of both color and pattern variations happen together. Because of all the color and pattern combinations Corn Snakes can look vastly different from other Corn Snakes.

Temperament of Corn Snakes

Corn Snakes are gentle and usually allow people to handle them without any problems. Corn Snakes are not known to bite even when they feel threatened. They will vibrate their tails to signal that they are being defensive.

These snakes are alert and are great at escaping from their enclosures. They are known for trying to push the lid off their tank and for looking for tiny openings to escape. It is important that the lid of their enclosure be kept tightly closed at all times.

Their Compatibility with Children

Corn Snakes are harmless and can be handled by children. It’s important that kids be taught how to support the snake’s body with their hands. Until children are comfortable being around the snake they should be supervised to keep your snake from getting hurt.

Anyone handling your Corn Snake should wash their hands immediately after they are done. Most snakes are carriers of infectious bacteria like Salmonella which can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. Washing their hands should prevent anyone that touched the snake from contracting bacterial and fungal diseases.

a Corn Snake coiled up

Living Space for Corn Snakes

A comfortable living space for an adult Corn Snake is a 20 to 30 gallon glass tank. The top of the tank needs to be secured tightly or your snake might escape. A mesh lid should provide enough ventilation for your Corn Snake.

The enclosure needs to have a hot and a warm side. The higher temperature needed for the hot side can be created with a heat lamp or with an under the tank heater. The hot side should bleed some of the heat to the warm side to keep it within the lower range.

During the day the hot side of their enclosure needs to be kept between 90 – 95°F. The warm side should be kept between 75 – 80°F. At night the temperature only needs to be kept between 70 to 75°F. One of the easiest ways to dial the day and night temperatures is to use a timer. In the day it will automatically turn on the heat lamps for the hot side, and at night it will turn it off. At night the enclosure will only be heated with a heat mat.

To feel secure the Corn Snakes like to curl and hide, they’ll be less stressed if there is a snake hide in both the warm and hot sides. A cardboard box or a closed container can be used as a snake hide. The hiding space is best if it is just enough to allow your snake to fit and curl up inside. If the snake hide is too big they will not feel safe.

The Substrate or the flooring of the tank should be soft enough for your snake to burrow under it. Being able to burrow will help your snake feel more secure. Dry natural leaves that have been sterilized with water or in an oven are good for the top of the substrate. For a good base substrate you’ll want something that will let your snake burrow, but also retains moisture to keep the humidity levels high. Reptisoil or Reptichip are good options and can be mixed with topsoil or sand.

Paper towels or newspapers should only be used if there isn’t anything else available, and replaced as soon as possible.

a Corn Snake coiled around a tree branch

To create a more natural environment, plants and branches can be added to replicate their natural environment. Using real plants helps maintain higher humidity levels, just don’t use any fertilizer in the soil or it might kill your snake.

Corn Snakes are not social creatures and should be kept in their own enclosure. There are exceptions to this rule like breeding, but until you are more familiar with them it is best to follow this rule.

Best Climate for Corn Snakes

Corn Snakes need an environment that consists of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. For most snakes their daylight will be an overhead incandescent heat lamp to regulate heat and create a substitute for sunlight.

Corn Snakes need fairly high humidity levels that are much higher than homes will be kept at. Some people find it difficult to keep the humidity between 65 and 75% but it’s not as difficult as most people think. During winters it can be a bit more difficult to maintain the humidity levels and it’s important to monitor the humidity levels then. If the humidity falls too low, mist the tank or keep an evaporating water bowl inside the tank to keep the humidity up. Moisture boxes are a great way to keep the enclosure humid without needing to spray water every few hours.

The Attention a Corn Snakes Needs

With snakes, there is not much attention or any attention once their care needs are met. Most snakes are content to be kept in their enclosure without being interrupted. If you want your snake to be receptive to handling they should be handled a few times a week. With regular handling they will be comfortable being held by you.

Some Corn Snakes may like to be handled more than others. The bad news is you won’t know the personality of your snake until after you bring it home and spend time with them.

Whenever you handle them it’s important not to let their body hang because holding them wrong can hurt them. When they’re being held it’s important that their head and body are both supported. When your snake does not want to be held anymore you will know by how they behave.

Health Issues

Infectious Stomatitis

Mouth rot, or infectious stomatitis, is an infection in a snake’s mouth. Mouth rot is very serious and can cause your snake a great deal of pain, and can eventually lead to their death. Mouth rot is typically caused by an injury to your snake’s mouth, or their enclosure not being kept at the correct conditions.

Symptoms of mouth rot in your snake are:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Blood in your pets mouth or their water bowl
  • Swollen areas in their mouth
  • Weight loss

The first step to fixing the problem is finding out if they injured their mouth on something, or if their enclosure’s conditions are not right. If their mouth is injured you should get them to a vet to have them look at your pets mouth. If the problem is environmental then fix the problems in their enclosure.

No matter what the cause of your snakes’s mouth rot, you’ll still need to take them to your vet because their treatment requires prescription antibiotics. Surgery may be required depending on the severity of the mouth rot. Because this infection kills tissues in your pet’s mouth, areas may need to be removed, including teeth. It’s better to prevent this problem before it happens by keeping your pets’ enclosure at the conditions they need to be happy and healthy.

Respiratory Infection

Respiratory infections are not that uncommon in snakes and reptiles. Especially ones that are kept in enclosures not kept at the correct conditions. Respiratory infections are very contagious, and even if your pet is kept in the best conditions, the infection can be passed to another reptile through touch. That’s why it’s important to wash up between handling reptiles to prevent cross contamination.

Symptoms of a respiratory infection in snakes:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loud breathing
  • Open mouth breathing
  • Mucus in their mouth
  • Nasal discharge

You’ll want to take your snake into your vet if you see any of the problems related to their breathing or their mouth. A respiratory infection can be serious and can take a long time to get over without treatment.

Treatment for a respiratory infection is typically antibiotics for 10-14 days. It’s very important to administer the medication at the same time each day, and for the full length of the treatment. Not completing the full dose means that your pet could relapse with a more severe infection that’s harder to treat.

To prevent future respiratory infections it’s important to make sure that their enclosure is kept at the best conditions for their health. You’ll also want to make sure to wash up after handling one reptile before handling another to prevent cross contamination.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infection is a disease that can affect several different types of snakes, and according to the US Geological Survey it’s a disease that is on the rise across the US.

Symptoms of fungal infections in snakes:

  • Bumps under the snakes skin
  • Eye cloudiness unrelated to molting
  • Abnormal molting
  • Crusty scales

If your snake was wild caught, or you are using substrate from your yard without sterilizing it, your snake could be at risk. The disease also is passed by contact. If you handle your snakes without washing up between snakes you could be putting all of your snakes at risk.

If you see any of the above symptoms you need to bring your snake to your vet immediately. The best chance of survival is catching this early and treating it early. Once the early stages of the disease pass and your snake has facial deformities it might be too late to save their life.

It’s important to quarantine your new snakes, in another room if possible for their first 60 days to protect your other snakes from diseases your new pet may carry. It’s also best to use commercial products for your substrate or sterilize anything you use from outside to prevent unknown bacteria, fungus or parasites from infecting your snake.


Mites are tiny black insects that are parasites. They feed off your snake’s blood, and they can be quite the pain in the butt to get rid of once you have them. Most times your new snake will be caught and sold already having mites, or they’ll get them from another snake at the pet store.

Symptoms that your snake has mites:

  • Long soaks in their water
  • Rubbing on objects in their enclosure
  • Tiny black specs on your snake or objects in their enclosure
  • Tiny black specs on you from handling your snake

We recommend contacting your vet to find out what treatment they recommend for killing mites. Keep in mind that mites don’t tend to stay in one place, and any other snakes or reptiles kept in the same room could be infested with mites as well. Distance between pets is key, just as washing up between handling pets so that you don’t spread mites from pet to pet.


Ticks are blood sucking parasites that are just as bad for your snake as they are for people. They can pass on quite a number of terrible diseases to your snake. Depending on what the ticks carry, or if left untreated, they can cause your snake to die.

Symptoms of ticks in snakes:

  • Rubbing on objects in their enclosure
  • Long soaks
  • Weight loss
  • Scale deformities or red spots

Usually with the above symptoms, especially red spots on their scales, people will be suspicious of either ticks or mites. Ticks are a lot easier to see than mites are, and with a close inspection of your snake you should be able to spot them pretty easily.

a Corn Snake with their mouth open

The treatment is fairly straightforward and can be done at home, or you can have your vet do it. Once you find a tick attached to your snake, rub the tick with a cotton ball that has been soaked in rubbing alcohol, then use tweezers to pull the tick off. Using alcohol first should help the tick release their grip and make them easier to pull off. If you are at all worried about diseases your snake might have gotten from the ticks you can have your vet take a look and they may prescribe medication based on what they find.

Grooming and Care

Corn Snakes will shed their skin several times a year. When they get ready to shed they might stop eating and try to get away when someone tries to pick them up. Most Corn Snakes will shed their skin without any help. Once the skin has been shed see if any of the old skin is still stuck to them.

Placing a large bowl of water inside the enclosure will increase the humidity and help your snake shed their skin. If they have problems shedding, you can bathe them in warm water and gently rub them to remove the old skin off of them.

Regular spot cleanings are needed to clean up any waste from your snake. Spot cleaning at least every other day will help prevent bacteria and fungus from accumulating inside their enclosure. A deep cleaning should be done every 3 months where everything is removed and wiped down and the substrate changed.

When cleaning the enclosure your snake should be moved to a smaller temporary container. A 4% bleach solution should be used to sterilize the habitat. Let the enclosure completely dry before placing your snake back inside.

Feeding A Corn Snakes

Corn Snakes love to eat mice and other rodents

Corn Snakes should be fed pre-killed frozen mice. The frozen mice need to be defrosted before being fed to your Corn Snake. Younger snakes can eat smaller size mice. As they grow older the size of the mouse should increase.

Growing snakes should be offered food two times a week and adults once every 7 to 10 days. If they are not hungry they will not eat what you give them. If you give them live food and they do not eat it, the food should be removed from the cage so that it can’t attack or hurt your snake if it starts to shed.
Your snake will feed less when they are about to shed. If you see them with cloudy eyes and a milky white skin, this is a sign that they are going to shed soon. If you think that they are about to shed, don’t feed them again until the day after they’ve shed.

Snakes need a bowl of water inside their tank so that they can drink. Snakes will sometimes defecate in the water. If they soil their water, clean the bowl and refill their water. A clean bowl will keep your snake from getting sick by drinking contaminated water.

Related Questions:

How to Protect the Light Lamp from Your Snake Inside the Enclosure?

You can buy wire cages to cover the lamp. The wire will prevent your Corn Snake from touching the lamp and getting burned by the heat. Another option is to keep the lamp just outside of the enclosure, near the lid.

Are Corn Snakes Venomous?

No, they are not venomous. Usually they do not even bite. The very rare time that they do bite, it will only cause a little pain but it will not be harmful.

How Long can You Keep Your Snake out of Their Enclosure?

You can take your snake out as often as they will let you. When they don’t want to be handled any longer they will start to move around more and can be difficult to handle. Their squirming is them telling you that they don’t want to be handled anymore today. Sometimes this is after 10 minutes, other times it might be an hour.

Author Profile
A woman with curly hair holding a cat.
Contributing Author & Social Media Expert

Maryna is an animal expert that has had dozens of animals in her life over the years. She has never found an animal that she didn't love immediately. It seems like every year she finds kittens that have been abandoned by their mom and she nurses them to health and finds homes for them. She contributes her vast knowledge about animals and family pets to our website and we're forever grateful to have her working with us. She's also an amazing graphics designer and has designed all of the social media images that we use across all platforms.