Corn snake or Pantherophis Guttatus is a kind of rat snake from North America southeastern and central region of America. It overpowers its prey through constriction. This species of snake is not feared because it is without venom. It is kept as a pet because wild rodents which damage crops are its food. It is otherwise docile and easy to tame.
Distinctive Features of Corn Snake
Corn snakes are bred in different colors like orange, red, white, grey, dark yellow as well as striped. They display red blotches and stripes on the rear and laterally. The belly shows black and white markings. All require the same method of looking after. Buy the color of your preference.
At the time of hatching corn snake measures 8-12 inches. The maturity measurement is 4-6 feet long. Females are larger than males. Handling this big creature is easy. In the wild, the corn snake lives for 6-8 years however, in captivity they live 23 years or more. In captivity, they are protected from predators.
These snakes prefer to live on land and rarely bite. The species is active at night and dawn. They are inquisitive. It has a checkered corn-like pattern on its skin and thus called a corn snake. It is a small-sized snake and beginner snake owners are not intimidated. This snake permits humans to handle them. It exists in a variety of colors called morphs. Colors and patterns vary because of selective breeding. They live in burrows and hide.
Corn snakes are carnivores. They catch their prey through smell and not by sight. When they feel danger they vibrate their tail. It is a defense mechanism.
Guide to Take Care of Pet Corn Snake
In the wild, corn snakes thrive in different environments like grasslands, rocky regions, farmland, and grain stores. Generally, they live on the ground but given a chance they climb as well.
What to Feed Pet Corn Snake?
The corn snake is a low-maintenance pet and easy to care for. Young snake requires food once a week and the older ones will require food once in ten days or fourteen days. The food to be served includes defrosted pre-killed catch in the form of rodent-like mice. Newborn mice to be served as corn snakes and as they become adult jumbo mice will suffice. The snake should not be handled immediately after feeding. It can regurgitate. Drinking water should be easily approachable. Use a solid bowl. Snakes defecate in their water. Keep the water bowl clean. Snake-like to bath in water as they get ready to shed.
How to Setup Habitat For Pet Corn Snake?
Generally, corn snakes with breeders are bred in captivity. The captive environment should resemble as closely as possible the wild. A vivarium or fish tank with a tightly fitted lid is appropriate. Hatchings are small and require a smaller vivarium. An adult snake requires a vivarium in accordance with its length. It should be able to stretch out fully. The other dimension's width and height should be third of its length. These snakes require a shallow pool of water to just soak and drink. The little substrate at the bottom is the best thing to do. The enclosure should be warm as well as humid.
Some owners prefer to use specially designed plastic vivarium for the snake. These are available in varying sizes. The vivarium should be thermo-gradient with a heat lamp at one end and cool water at the other end. Corn snakes are cold-blooded so require heat from the surroundings to stay warm. Heat mats and bulbs keep it warm while in wild they soak in sun to regulate body temperature.
The warm end temperature should be 28-30 degrees C and the cool end 20-24 degrees C. Monitor the temperature daily through a thermostat. Photo-gradient should be light to shade. Place 2-7 percent UV tube towards the hot end. The day and night light procedure whereas 12 hours light and 12 hours dark. Place the enclosure near a window. Arrange climbing branches and damp mossy things in the enclosure.
Measure humidity through hygrometer to 40-50 percent. This helps in the snake's healthy skin and keeps breathing problems away. If humidity increases use ventilation. Different substrates like aspen shavings available online or in pet shops can be used. These shavings are not practical to be cleaned. Once soiled they need to be removed through spot cleaning. Otherwise, the total shavings can be replaced in a month. The snake should be fed away from aspen shavings. If indigested by chance the snake can fall sick.
Cedar, as well as redwood shavings, are poisonous so best avoided. Soil, sand, pine shavings corncob is best avoided. Kitchen rolls can be spread on the bottom. Newspapers are also a good choice. These are economical and easy to replace. A corn snake can push the lid of the tank with its nose. Make sure there are no openings even tiny ones. Fit the lid securely. A mesh lid is best suited even from point of ventilation.
The snake's home with decoration looks beautiful. Branches, rocks as well as plastic plants terracotta plants pots bark of trees is a good addition. The snake can wriggle up, explore, and hide as well. Hiding is a strong instinctive requirement and it makes them feel safe. In the absence of a hiding place, the reptile may refuse food and even experience ill health.
Shedding of Corn Snake
Like their other counterparts, these snakes also shed the outer skin many times annually all through life. As it prepares to shed there are behavior changes which include:
- The snake stops eating
- Prefers not to be handled
- The body skin appears dull
- The eyes may appear blue-grey. Vision is poor making the snake unsure and watchful.
Shedding is a normal process and done with ease. In the pet snake's living place keep a big bowl of water to increase the humidity so old skin comes out easily. The snake in this period rubs its head on a hard surface like a rock to begin the shedding process. The head skin needs to be free first the remaining they move out as they wriggle about. Inspect the snake after the shed. Check around the eyes and tail tip. If old skin remains gently remove by rubbing or tweeze when at a warm bath.
Knowing the Health Issues of Pet Corn Snake
Corn snakes are likely to get a dangerous parasitic infection. Get the snake tested before you buy one. A listless snake's vomit and feces should be taken to the vet for testing. Mouth rot or infectious stomatitis infected snake may lose teeth. It causes saliva and inflammation around the mouth. Corn snakes are likely to develop fungal and respiratory infections. In respiratory infection, the snake will breathe through the mouth. A vet will be able to treat.
When choosing a snake go in for a captive-born one. Corn snake breeds nicely in captivity. When choosing a pet snake look for:
- No retained skin remains
- Clear eyes
- Without cuts and scrapes
- Absence of mites and ticks
- Active with flicking tongue
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Frequently Asked Questions About Pet Corn Snake
Some of the commonly asked questions about pet corn snakes are answered below:
Are Corn Snakes Friendly?
Corn snakes are docile and don't mind if held by the owner once they get familiar. If as an owner you enjoy daily handling of the snake this pet is for you. To begin with, on handling they act feisty and flighty, and once the owner is known they become calm and docile. A corn snake captured from the wild will take longer to get accustomed to humans and their habitat. Once the snake knows your smell it will not react towards you as a potential meal. These snakes react aggressively when they perceive the situation as threatening or when provoked. Children can easily play with them and handle them.
Can a Corn Snake Hurt You?
Corn snakes are not poisonous and in most situations do not harm humans. As a pet, it rarely bites. Hatchlings may bite with their tiny teeth but it should not cause worry. Snake may bite if under stress or it smells food. If the snake faces you with an S-shaped neck and heads back, it is better to leave the snake alone. Wash your hands if you touched prey food. The snake will get the food smell and may bite.
How Long do Corn Snakes Live as Pets?
The longevity of corn snakes is 10-15 years. Be prepared for a long association and responsibility.