Corn snakes are among the most commonly kept pet snakes in the world, and there are dozens of popular morphs available in the pet trade. They are also sometimes referred to as red rat snakes, but they get their most common name from corn granaries. These places are where mice and rats come to find food, with corn snakes following close behind. These snakes are relatively docile and easy to care for, making them ideal for beginner snake keepers, but they are also popular among experts due to their unique morphs and colors.
Corn snakes make great pets for various reasons, but there are also difficulties involved in their care. Let’s look at the reasons that corn snakes make such great pets and the potential concerns to be aware of.
Corn Snake Basic Info
|60 – 183 cm (2 – 6 ft.); some individuals may exceed 6 ft.
|10 – 15 years in the wild (highest is 23 years in captivity)
|75 – 82°F (24 – 27°C) on the cool side and 80 – 85°F (26.8 – 29°C) on the warm side; also requires an 88 – 90°F (32°C) basking area on the warm side
|Minimum tank size:
|30 gallons for a juvenile
The 6 Reasons Corn Snakes Make Good Pets
Corn snakes are among the most popular choices of pet snakes in the United States, and all those snake enthusiasts cannot be wrong! There are many reasons that corn snakes make such great pets for beginners and experts alike, but here are a few of the main ones.
1. Easy to Care For
Setting up an enclosure for a corn snake is relatively simple, making them ideal for beginners. Corn snakes are fairly inactive snakes and thus do not need a massive enclosure. Juveniles need a tank of at least 30 gallons, large enough for a temperature gradient, a few branches and accessories for them to hide in, and basic lighting. They only need feeding once or twice a week, and their preferred food—frozen mice—is readily available at pet stores.
Corn snakes are docile animals that rarely bite or strike at their owners, and they are not venomous. This makes them ideal for owners who enjoy handling their snakes or for beginners who have never handled a snake before. They are also slow-moving animals, so there is less chance of accidental dropping.
3. Small Size
Corn snakes can reach a maximum of 6 feet long, with the average being 2–4 feet in most cases. This is ideal for a pet snake because it makes them far easier to house and care for, yet they are still large enough to handle comfortably.
4. Tolerant to Handling
With the right training, corn snakes are generally tolerant to handling due to their docile temperament. Of course, this trust needs to be built up slowly at first, keeping handling to once or twice a week and only for short periods, especially with young corn snakes. Once this trust has been gained, however, you can handle your corn snake every day without many issues. They are easier to handle compared to other snake species but still require caution when being handled.
5. Gorgeous Morphs
There are estimated to be over 800 corn snake morphs currently available! This number is continuously growing as breeders develop new and exciting varieties. This is one of the biggest reasons for the corn snake’s popularity, as there is such a wide array of gorgeous morphs to choose from.
6. Long Lifespans
While corn snakes do not have the lengthy lifespan of some other popular reptile pets, like ball pythons, which can live for 30 years or more, they are not short-lived pets. Corn snakes frequently live for up to 15 years with the proper care, and some even live for up to 20 years in captivity. A corn snake is a pet that will be with you for many years to come!
Why Don’t Corn Snakes Make Good Pets?
Although the corn snake sounds like the perfect pet snake, as with all pets, there are downsides. One of the biggest issues that people have with owning a corn snake is feeding them. Finding and keeping frozen mice and then thawing them out can be tedious, and handling dead mice on a weekly basis can make some people understandably queasy.
Another issue is their enclosure. While they are certainly one of the easiest snakes to care for, they do have specific habitat requirements that need to be met, and their enclosure will need regular cleaning and maintenance. They are also expert escape artists, so you’ll need to make sure your enclosure has a tight-fitting lid. A full-grown adult might not be comfortable in a 30-gallon tank and would be better off in a much larger enclosure.
Lastly, while corn snakes will happily let you handle them, they are not at all affectionate animals. They require a great deal of attention and care without the same reward that you’d get from a dog or a cat. Although this may appeal to people who don’t have the time for too much pet interaction, don’t expect your corn snake to be your best pal.
Corn snakes make great pets for beginners and experts alike. With their docile nature, relative ease of care, and hundreds of beautiful morphs to choose from, they are among the most popular pet snakes in the world, and this trend is unlikely to waver. They are a massive commitment, though, with specific care needs and a long lifespan, so they are not a responsibility to be taken lightly. If you are a beginner looking at getting into the fascinating world of reptile keeping, the corn snake is a great place to start!
Featured Image Credit: Scink, Shutterstock