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Home > Snakes > Corn Snake Feeding: Diet & Health Advice

Corn Snake Feeding: Diet & Health Advice

corn snake eating a mouse

The corn snake, also known as the red rat snake, is a popular breed of pet snake. They are typically orange or brown in color with blotches running down their back. They also have black-and-white markings running down their belly. It is thought that the name, “corn snake,” could have come from these markings, as they somewhat resemble Indian corn kernels.

If you are considering buying a corn snake, you may be wondering what, how much, and how often to feed this pet. In this article, we address all those concerns, so you can feel fully prepared to feed your snake when you bring them home.

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What Do Corn Snakes Eat?

Corn snakes are carnivores that eat a wide variety of animals like rats, mice, birds, or even bats in the wild. The type of prey you feed to your snake should be catered somewhat to your snake’s age and size. Prey that is about the same width or one and a half times the width of your snake is appropriate. Accordingly, a hatchling corn snake can handle a pinkie mouse, or newborn mouse, whereas adult corn snakes can handle adult mice.

You can purchase frozen rodents for your corn snake to eat. Most of the time, corn snakes will not have a problem eating frozen prey, but if they won’t eat frozen mice, you can feed them live mice. If you do feed live prey to your corn snake, make sure to monitor your snake’s enclosure carefully, as live rodents can scratch and sometimes injure your snake in the process of feeding.

How Often Should I Feed My Corn Snake?

a corn snake
Image Credit: Jumpstory

Unlike other pets, you don’t need to feed your corn snake every day. In fact, you can usually go several days without feeding your snake, though the exact amount of time depends on how old they are. For hatchlings, you should plan to feed them about once every 5 to 7 days. For juvenile snakes, you can feed them every 7 to 10 days. Finally, adult corn snakes only need to be fed about one time every 10 to 14 days.

You can keep track of whether the feeding schedule is working for your snake by weighing them regularly. For adult snakes, you want to maintain, not increase, weight. If you find that your adult snake is consistently gaining weight, you can cut back on the amount of food or the frequency of feedings.

Tips for Feeding

When handling your snake’s food, use tongs or tweezers to reduce the risk of being bitten when you give it to your snake. You can choose to either feed your snake in their enclosure or in another area, such as a feeding tub. The benefit of using a feeding tub is that you can train your snake to expect food when you move them. Conversely, your snake will learn not to expect food when you put your hand in their enclosure, making it less likely that they will bite you when you do so.

Corn snakes are generally not picky eaters, making them easy to feed and good for beginners. However, you may occasionally get a snake that is a reluctant feeder. There are a few things that you can do in this case.

Try to spend less time handling your snake. If you pick your snake up too often, they can become stressed, which can make them less interested in eating. You could also try feeding your snake when it is dark. Although they are typically active during the day, some snake owners find that their corn snakes prefer to eat when it is dark. Finally, if you find that your snake simply is not interested in the prey that you offer them, you might want to experiment with feeding your snake different species. You can try giving your snake frogs, lizards, birds, gerbils, or hamsters to see if they will bite.




Corn snakes are great beginner pets because they are typically easy to feed and eat a wide variety of prey, making them relatively low maintenance. Just remember to feed them the right amount in order to keep them healthy and increase their longevity.

Featured Image Credit: Phofun, Shutterstock

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