Corn snakes are popular pet snakes thanks to their easygoing temperament and overall hardiness.
These are colorful and docile reptiles that don’t need much to thrive in captivity. If you love corn snakes but never had one, this article is for you.
Today, we will discuss the basics of a corn snake tank setup. What should you be concerned about, how to set up the ideal housing conditions, and what do corn snakes need to live healthy and long lives?
Let’s check it out!
Corn Snake Natural Habitat
The first thing to learn about corn snakes before taking one as a pet is their natural habitat. This will help you understand the species’ needs better.
Corn snakes are very popular in North America, especially the Southern US, inhabiting various ecosystems like farmlands, grasslands, forests, and even urban areas.
These snakes can adapt to their environment extremely well, proof of that being that they have learned to thrive near human settlements.
The main reason for that is the snake’s predilection for rodents like mice and rats, which colonize grain-rich areas in farmlands across the US.
The ideal environment for corn snakes includes thick vegetation with a variety of bushes and climbing areas for a plus of diversity. These snakes qualify as ground dwellers, but they are also excellent and agile climbers as well.
It’s important to note here that corn snakes rank as some of the most adaptable reptiles in terms of temperature resilience. They can easily thrive in tropical, subtropical, arid, and even temperate climates with freezing winters.
These basic facts recommend corn snakes as great pets, including for beginners.
Now that you know the essentials, let’s assess the basic features that corn snakes require to thrive in captivity.
Choosing a Tank
The tank is the first piece to acquire since it will serve as the snake’s home. As a general rule, make sure that the tank itself is at least as long as the snake.
When it comes to housing an adult corn snake, you’re looking at at least 40 gallons. Juveniles can be housed in smaller enclosures, up to half that, but adult snakes require more space to stretch their bodies.
The material to go for can vary depending on your preferences, but I recommend glass, even though it is more expensive. Glass is easier to clean, clearer, and provides a better view inside the tank, adding a plus of clarity to the mix.
Knowing that corn snakes like to climb, you can go for an enclosure with a bit more vertical space. Just keep in mind that the reptile also needs horizontal space to eat, bask, and rest properly.
If you’re an overachiever, you should go for more than 40 gallons, which will give you the necessary space to achieve both goals.
Figuring out the ideal substrate for your corn snake is more important than it might seem. For instance, many corn snake keepers and reptile keepers, in general, go for aspen shavings.
These are natural-looking, affordable, and non-toxic. The problem is that aspen shavings often produce dust particles that can cause respiratory issues, and corn snakes are rather sensitive to that.
So, I recommend sticking to the meta instead. Go for coconut fibers instead, as these are easy to clean, non-toxic, and produce no airborne particles. They are also highly absorbent, so they can maintain humidity levels easier.
Paper towels are the cheaper version of that if you don’t value the substrate’s aesthetics as much.
Corn snakes are highly adaptable, so they can withstand a wide range of temperatures.
However, there are some ideal values to consider, such as:
- Cold area – 75-82 F.
- Warm area – 82-86 F.
- Basking area – 88-95 F.
Make sure you limit these areas from a layout standpoint so that your corn snake can navigate between the regions seamlessly.
In other words, you can have the cold area on one side of the tank, the warm area in the middle, and the basking zone at the other end of the enclosure.
These zones should be easily accessible, as the corn snake will migrate from one area to the other constantly throughout the day.
The basking spot should rely on a heat lamp, preferably, and occupy no more than 30% of the enclosure’s total surface area. Make sure you have a thermometer in place to monitor the temperature and adjust the heating system whenever necessary.
Sudden temperature swings can lead to overheating or temperature shock, which can kill your corn snake.
Interestingly, corn snakes do not require UVB lighting for improved calcium absorption; their organisms are more adaptable than those of other snakes.
Even so, the reptile demands a stable light cycle to adjust its circadian rhythm properly. Provide your corn snake with at least 10-12 hours of light per day to mimic natural lighting conditions.
Don’t place the snake’s tank in direct sunlight to save money on the lighting system and the electricity bill. Doing so will cause the enclosure to overheat, potentially killing your pet in the process.
Also, use a ceramic heat bulb to control environmental temperatures during nighttime, as these only produce heat and no light.
The ideal humidity range for corn snakes sits between 40% and 50%. Humidity is important for these reptiles for numerous reasons, including digestion and skin health.
If the habitat’s humidity is too low, the snake can experience skin problems, respiratory issues, and even slow digestion, resulting in constipation and impaction.
You can enhance and preserve your pet snake’s environmental humidity by spraying the enclosure regularly and having a water bowl present in the enclosure at all times. However, keep in mind that the reverse is also true.
Dangerously-high humidity levels can cause skin and respiratory problems too. You should always shave a hygrometer in place to gauge humidity levels accurately.
Décor and Accessories
Corn snakes are curious and inquisitive reptiles that prefer a varied and mentally stimulating habitat to keep them busy. Add a variety of branches, logs, rocks, and tunnels that your snake can explore and hide in during the day.
You should seek to decorate the reptile’s habitat in a manner similar to its natural ecosystem.
A specialized climbing structure and a water dish are important accessories, as they increase the snake’s quality of life significantly. Finally, go for a main hiding spot where your snake would typically go to rest or when stressed.
This should be large enough for the snake to cuddle inside and have room to move around if necessary.
Many corn snakes tend to drag their prey inside their hiding zone, especially if they feel unsafe outside for whatever reason or if they need a bit of intimacy. Make sure that the snake’s main hiding space allows for that.
Maintenance and Cleaning
While corn snakes don’t need as much cleaning as other reptiles, they have higher metabolisms with matching appetites. An adult corn snake requires one meal every 7-14 days, depending on the size of the previous meal and its nutritional value.
The snake may poop more often than that, though, so you need a good cleaning routine in place.
The maintenance job includes spot-cleaning any dirt or mold that may form on the tank’s walls, eliminating feces, and removing portions of substrate tainted by urine. Then you need to perform a deep cleaning every 1-2 months, depending on how soiled the environment becomes during that timeframe.
The deep-cleaning job entails removing the snake from the tank, removing the substrate and all the detachable accessories and pieces of equipment, and performing in-depth cleaning and sterilization.
You can use a reptile-friendly cleaning chemical in the process or simply rely on a water and vinegar solution, which is just as effective.
Once the tank is clean and sterilized, rinse it with warm water, dry it out with paper towels, and move everything back in. Except for the substrate because you want to replace that entirely.
Corn snakes are relatively easy to maintain compared to other species, which qualifies them as perfect reptile pets for novice snake lovers.
Just make sure you source your snake wisely and provide it with ideal living conditions to enhance its quality of life and lifespan over the years.