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How to care for a corn snake 

PAGE 24 HOW

Most corn snakes for sale in the UK are bred in captivity. However, it’s still important that the captive environment of a pet corn snake mimics the wild as much a possible.

Diet – what do corn snakes eat?

Mice should be their most common food, but you can feed them other prey such as suitably sized quails or rats.

Make sure prey is thoroughly defrosted and the width is no greater than 1.5 times the widest part of the snake’s body.

Corn snake vivariums – temperature and lighting

An adult needs a vivarium that matches their length, allowing them to stretch out fully, and the minimum width and height must be a third of their length.

Make sure it’s a secure and solid material that holds heat and will prevent escape.

Temperature

Reptiles require a ‘thermogradient’ – meaning placing a guarded heat lamp at one end of the vivarium and leaving the opposite end cool.

The basking zone should range from 28 to 30 degrees C, and the cool end 20 to 24 degrees C. Monitor temperatu-res daily using digital thermometers at each end.

UV Lighting

You’ll need to create a ‘photogradient’ that varies from light to shade. Fit a 2 to 7 per cent UV tube at the hot end.

Don’t forget to set day and night light patterns – consider using a timer – 12 hours light followed by 12 hours dark.

Humidity

A hygrometer measures the humidity, which should be around 40 to 50 per cent, essential to keep your corn snake’s skin healthy and prevent breathing problems. If it’s too high, you’ll need more ventilation.

Keeping a corn snake healthy

Healthy corn snakes flick their tongue frequently and have clear, bright eyes. Their skin should be smooth without blisters. Monitor their health daily and seek advice from your specialist reptile vet if you’re con-cerned.

Corn snake lifespan

Their lifespan is around 10 to 15 years. If you’re interested in buying a corn snake, or considering adopting one instead, make sure you’re ready to provide the care they’ll need for their entire life.

How big do corn snakes get?

They can grow to around 150cm long. Female corn snakes usually grow larger than males.

Handling

Corn snakes can become used to regular handling. Gently lift them with one hand underneath the animal near the head and another hand nearer the tail, but never grab them.

Safe handling is around 10 to 15 minutes, any longer and their core temperature will drop too low.

Do corn snakes bite?

All snakes may bite under stress or if they smell food. However, they’re not venomous.

When threatened, corn snakes may pull their head back displaying an ‘S’ sh-ped neck. If your snake does this, handle them another time.