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Corn Snakes As Pets:
Corns are relatively cheap in comparison with other reptiles. As most other reptiles they are quiet, do not stink and you need
little effort from your side to keep them happy. With the
exception of hatchling Corns they normally feed only once a
week. Baby corns might feed every three to five days. They are very
hardy snakes and will almost adapt in any home. Corn snakes are
relatively small in comparison with other snakes and have a very
docile temperament. They can be handled easily.
Snakes are very shy creatures. Most snakes are happier when they are out of sight and
Corns are no exception. Corns are also considered to be nocturnal, so they mostly come out
between the hours of dusk and dawn. That means that snakes do
not appreciate being exhibited in the open. When looking for a pet
that one can keep in a cage and show off to
everyone, rather keep away. Some Corns are known to have feeding
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Corns are not very expensive snakes in South Africa. They
are probably one of your cheapest and most available snakes
around the world. A good price for a normal 0 to 3
month-old Corn snake can be anything between ZAR150 and ZAR250 (2002 -
2004). Prices might drop to around ZAR100 in 2005. Do not buy a
new-born Corn that did not have at least one or two pinkies
and did not shed at least once! They become more expensive
with age and some colour and pattern variations are more
Always remember only to buy healthy animals
from reputable pet shops and breeders. Make sure to buy
animals that are captive bred in your own country and that it
is not illegally imported or caught from the wild.
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Bare Minimum For Keeping Corn Snakes:
The minimum requirements for keeping Corn snakes are
listed below. Refer to the General
Snake Care Sheet for more information on the basic keeping
of snakes before reading this section:
- Terrarium / snake cabinet
- Correct size prey, live or frozen
- Water bowl
- Something to climb on
- Warmish room or heating equipment
Males can be kept
together, separate or with one to three females in the same container.
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Captive Care Environment:
Environmental temperatures should be maintained between 25 and 30 ºC /
75 and 85 ºF. A small drop during the night should not do any
harm. A heat gradient that exceeds both these temperatures by
only a few degrees should be
maintained for thermoregulation.
Corns can be housed in a variety of containers. Small snakes
can be kept in small to medium lunch boxes or ice-cream boxes. Small holes
for ventilation should be drilled in the sides or in the lid.
Small acrylic containers specifically made for small pets, so called "Pal Pens" or "Desert Dens"
are available from most pet shops.
For bigger snakes anything large enough will be appropriate. Glass tanks or aquariums used for fish make good housing and can be cleaned easily.
Make sure the lid is a tight fit and that there is appropriate ventilation. Snakes are masters of escape! A cabinet with glass-fronted doors that can slide open, or a
terrarium is widely in use.
Corns are semi-aboreal (semi tree climbing). A thick branch,
stump, rock or something similar can be used as decoration.
Refer to the Suitable
Substrates For Herptile section for more information on
suitable substrates for Corn snakes
The rest of the environmental factors are discussed in the General
Snake Care Sheet.
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Corn Snake Handling:
Corns do not wrap snugly around one's arm like pythons or kings. They tend to pick a
direction and go for it. Although Corn snakes are relatively small in body mass, they are quite
strong. Always support the body and give free rein to the head. If the head starts going
somewhere it can be gently guided into another direction. Many snakes are
nervous when introduced into a new situation with new people and
should be given a couple of days
to settle down before allowing them to be handled.
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Corn Snake Behaviour:
Corns are believed to be nocturnal (night dwelling). They are most active
during the the hours between dusk and dawn. They are also
semi-aboreal (semi tree climbing).
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Corn snake babies
should only be ready to sell after their first self caught
meal (not force fed). Shedding should take place about two to
five days after hatching after which they start to take food.
Some buyers insist on seeing the skin and feed records
When buying a new Corn
it should be noted whether it is male or female. If possible, get the date of
birth and the shed and feed records. When buying a hatchling
try to take a look at the parents of the snake, especially when
buying certain colour
morphs. This will give the buyer an indication
of how the snake will look when mature. In short, get as much as
possible information from the seller. The more info you get, the
better you will be able to care for the snake (if that person
did not talk rubbish). If not sure about the behavior of the
snake, call him/her, ask, ask and ASK!
If the seller can not
give most of the above info, he or she is not worth to be
called a breeder or a seller for that matter. In this case it is
maybe better not to buy from this person!
When selecting a Corn,
look for a well fleshed body, no visible cuts or abrasions,
clear, alert eyes, tongue flicking, no signs of mites or ticks
and a clean vent.
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Corn Snake Feeding:
Hatchlings will need day old pinkies and large adults can eat up to a large mouse or a
small rat. Mature Corns are good eaters. Hatchlings on the other hand tend to have
problems taking their first food and sometimes food thereafter.
One to two new-borns per batch of eggs can refuse
to eat. Some oeple believe that there is a genetic link to these
poor-doers and they should not be force-fed and sold as
potential future breeding animals. It is
VERY important to make sure a baby is a potential good eater!
Refer to the Reptile &
Amphibian Feeding Problems section to see what
to do if a Corn snake refuses to eat.
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Corn Snake Reproduction:
After sexual maturity (at the age of about two years),
adult Corns breed in the spring and early summer. They are
oviparous (egg-laying) and some strains lay small clutches
of larger eggs where other might lay larger clutches with
eggs. Clutches may vary between 12 to 15 eggs but clutches as
44 eggs have been recorded. Double clutching is possible when
the female has a good body condition and is in health. Females are able to
produce infertile eggs even if they were mated by a