Corn snakes, or Elaphe guttata, belong to the rat snake species. They are generally docile and non-venomous. They come in different morphs, from beautiful orange with distinct dorsal stripes to all-white with bright red eyes. Ah, it’s simply gorgeous to look at.
But do corn snakes make good pets? Are they any trouble?
A corn snake is an excellent reptile pet choice. He’ll live a decently long life, grow to the perfect size, and stay calm in most conditions. But he is also high maintenance—in terms of housing and live food. Plus, he might carry salmonella.
Always do your research before committing to being a corn’s guardian. It’s better if you know the upsides and downsides of having corn snake pets at home.
Stay with us if you’re ready to learn more about corn snakes as pets.
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Are corn snakes good pets?
Corn snakes, also known as red rat snakes, are America’s most beloved reptile pets. They are docile creatures that don’t mind human interaction and look beautiful. Most people prefer having them as their slithering buddies because of their small size and non-venomous nature.
But are corn snakes good pets for beginners?
Well, there’s no “yes” or “no” here. Whether corn snakes will work for you as pet snakes depends on you.
Are you okay with a no-cuddle pet? Will you be able to fulfill your corn snake’s needs? Can you provide the right type of environment? Do you have enough patience to handle the glamorous glider?
Think before you pick one up from a pet store.
If you need help deciding whether a corn snake will slither into your life and be the perfect puzzle piece to your pet dreams, go through the pros and cons below.
6 Pros of Having a Corn Snake Pet
Did you know that about 4.5 million US households have pet reptiles? Yep, that’s true. These reptiles include snakes, lizards, and iguanas. Guess who’s number one? Corn snakes.
There must be something about these scaly stunners that attracts even beginner snake owners.
Is it their appearance? Or their size?
Let’s find out why corn snakes are good pets.
Corn Snakes are Gentle Pets
One of the biggest concerns for newbie snake parents is their pet’s temperament. Luckily, corn snakes are perfect in that department. They are as docile and calm as a chilled-out sloth on a hammock. No biting, no constricting, and no dropping a load when stressed.
So, are corn snakes friendly?
Yep! Corn snakes love their human companions. They like it when their human friend holds them from time to time. But you’ll have to learn how to handle your wiggly wonders. Because no matter how easygoing they are, they can still lash out at you if you provoke them.
Baby corn snakes, especially, are slightly nippy. It is because they don’t know you so well and aren’t accustomed to your touch. They’ll come around just fine as you spend more time with them.
What if I still get bit?
Ah, don't worry. Corn snake bites are harmless. The most you'll experience is a pinch and a drop of blood. If it happens, know that your pet snake isn't ready to be held yet. Respect his boundaries and keep him in his vivarium.
Corn Snakes Come in a Variety of Morphs
Let’s be honest: Whether furry, feathery, or scaly, we can’t help but fall for pets whose looks make us go “WOW.” Because in the game of pet companionship, appearances positively count!
This brings us to the next upside of having corn pet snakes: they are the slithery-style icons of the reptile world. Bright red stripes along the back, speckled yellow patterning on the sides, and a bright orange-and-white belly make them the stars of the reptile fashion show.
Added bonus? Corn snakes come in an array of morphs. Eight hundred morphs, to be exact.
You’ll find cuties with vibrant red and white stripes that look like candy canes, sun-kissed serpents with golden hues and warm, radiant patterns, and everything in between.
There are morph types based on color variation or pattern variation. Only a breeder can help you find the perfect corn snake morph for your collection.
Corn Snakes Don’t Grow Too Large
Snakes, even if they are friendly, can overwhelm those who fear them. You’ll appreciate that the corn snake is relatively small, even when fully grown.
Usually, most corn snakes grow between two and five feet. They’re tiny compared to other snakes like Burmese pythons or boa constrictors!
Of course, age makes a difference.
Here’s an age and size guide for you:
- Corn snake hatchlings (up to six months old) – 8-15 inches
- Juvenile corn snakes (between six and 12 months) – 15-30 inches
- Young corn snakes (1-2 years old) – 30-40 inches
- Adult corn snakes (2-3 years old) – 40-60 inches
A two- to three-year-old corn snake is considered fully grown in size. So, the maximum length a corn snake will grow is five feet.
How does it make a difference?
Well, it’s all about space. Corn snakes don’t require as much space as the bigger species do. That makes them great pets for small apartments or homes.
A 20-gallon glass vivarium with a secure lid, comfortable aspen bedding, a freshwater dish, a food bowl, and hiding spots is perfect for a baby corn snake. For an adult corn snake, switch to a 40-gallon tank.
You don’t have to worry about squishing them, either. They are the perfect size for you to handle carefully.
Corn Snakes Tolerate Human Handling Pretty Well
Unlike other snake species, most corn snakes appreciate being held for long periods of time. They like to know they’re loved. So, if you need a reptile pet who enjoys being caressed and held, bring a corn snake home.
You’ll have to build his trust first. It’s just like in humans. No trust, no hugs!
Young, newly hatched corn snakes are the most skittish. They can be easily intimidated by loud noises, sudden movements, and fast environmental changes. If that’s what you plan to get, allow him some days to adjust to his new abode. Show him that he can trust you.
How to Handle a Corn Snake
How should I hold my corn snake? And when?
Once your new pet is well-settled in his new abode, take him out of his enclosure and hold him for ten to fifteen minutes. Don’t do it for longer than that, or his core temperature will drop too low. So, wash your hands before reaching for your pet snake, and don’t squeeze the snake’s body. If your hand smells of mice or if you frighten him, he’ll snap at you.
Keep at the handling session for some weeks to strengthen the trust bond. The more you handle your beautiful pet corn, the more docile he’ll become. Don’t let a week slide by without slithering together, or your snake may feel left out and start getting jumpy again.
Corn Snakes Have a Long Lifespan
Heartbreaks caused by pet deaths are worse than anything else. You’ll be glad to know that corn snakes lead a good, long life.
A red rat snake can live for around six to eight years in the wild. He’ll hunt, he’ll mate, and he’ll bask in the sun. But a corn snake’s lifespan will double or even triple in captivity!
How long do corn snakes live as pets?
Captive corn snakes can live upwards of 12 years. If you properly care for your corn snake, he might accompany you for up to 23 years.
Corn Snakes are Easy to Find
Once you set your heart on a pet, it’s a bummer when you can’t find it. With corn snakes, there’s nothing to worry about.
Corn snakes are the cool kids of the eastern United States, rocking it from southern New Jersey down to sunny Florida. They even spread their charm to parts of Louisiana and Kentucky.
If you’re on the lookout for these slithering superstars, you’ll find them strutting their stuff with pride in most pet stores and reptile shows. For a specific morph, like snow corn, look for breeders who specialize in that particular morph.
6 Cons of Keeping Corn Snakes as Pets
So, corn snakes, are all things good?
We are not afraid. There are certain downsides to keeping a corn snake as a pet. These scaled beauties have very specific habitat requirements; they are prone to diseases, and they are tough to feed.
But that’s not all. There are other limitations to keeping a corn snake as a pet. It’s best to evaluate all of these to avoid any unpleasant surprises later.
Let’s check out the cons of keeping pet corn snakes.
Corn Snakes are Fussy About Their Habitat
Pet corns need specific habitat conditions. From the bedding to the humidity levels and temperatures, these slithering creatures need an environment that replicates their natural habitat. Without these conditions, they can become stressed, which leads to illnesses or even a shorter lifespan.
Another roadblock? Setting up a vivarium for your corn snake can get pricey. Maintaining their home adds to the cost.
Setting Up a Vivarium for Your Pet Corn Snake
Corn snakes are expert escape artists. If you don’t want your scaly buddy to sneak out of his home, you’ll need a closed glass tank. Your corn snake’s vivarium must be big enough to keep your pet comfortable.
Next, you’ll need a good bedding material like aspen shavings, dried grasses, or newspaper. Don’t use any type of cedar or pine shavings because they can cause skin irritation and allergies.
The ideal temperature to keep your corn snake is between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. They are also pretty specific about the humidity levels. If the air in your snake’s enclosure gets too dry, he’ll have problems with shedding.
Do you know what that means? Spending a pretty penny on the vet’s bill.
Corn Snakes Don’t Like Living Together
Corn snakes are so gorgeous that you’d want to have more than one. There’s a slight problem here, though.
Corn snakes don’t like the company of other snakes. Not even from their own species. In the wild, they like to hang around alone.
So, if you’re thinking about getting more than one corn snake, you’ll need a different vivarium for him. That can be costly.
If you still want to try your fate, female corn snakes are the better bet. Two female corns of the same size might still get along better than two male corns.
What will happen if I keep two male corns together?
You may be unlucky and end up with a fight between the two. In the worst cases, one of them may kill the other. Snake cannibalism is real.
Can I keep a male and a female corn snake together? Nope. That's a bad idea because corn snakes can breed very easily. If you do keep them together, you'll be left with lots of baby snakes.
Corn Snakes are Susceptible to Infections
Your corn snake is prone to several health issues. Before you bring one home, ask yourself if you’re ready to deal with these infections because your pet will need TLC when he’s down and suffering.
Here are a few health risks a corn snake may face:
Your corn snake might have to deal with skin issues like pus-filled blisters, cuts, shedding issues, and infected wounds leading to abscesses. If your snake shows any symptoms of a skin condition, reach out to a reptile vet who’s a pro in the field. They’ll know how to give your scaly buddy the right care.
Respiratory infections are common in snakes that live in unfavorable temperatures. It gives your snake difficulty breathing. Minor issues are easy to deal with by adjusting the temperature in the tank. But for serious ones, you’ll need a vet.
More commonly known as mouth rot,” it is an infection in the lining of the gums and mouth. It’s caused by bacteria getting into an open wound. Symptoms include a frothy white discharge from the mouth, low appetite, and swelling in the mouth.
Corn Snakes Carry Salmonella
Although your corn snake isn’t venomous, it can still pose a health risk to you and those around you. It is especially true if you have older adults and kids in the house. Your pet snake carries salmonella. It’s a creepy bacteria that enters the bloodstream and attacks the intestines.
But that’ll only happen if I touch my corn snake, right?
Well, mostly salmonella spreads through direct contact. But it can also spread indirectly through the snake’s feces and shed skin. So even if you don’t touch your pet, you can still be at risk.
Corn Snakes Aren’t Playful
When you’re in a relationship with a corn snake, you might feel like it’s one-sided. You’ll not get anything in return. No affection, no hugs, no smiles! That’s just common rat-snake behavior.
So, if you enjoy cuddle time and want to play with your pet, corns aren’t for you.
You can’t even train a corn snake. He’ll do what he wants and how he wants it. You’re the one who’ll have to adjust.
But it’s not all bad. Some pet owners prefer the no-fuss attitude of a corn snake. After all, you won’t have to worry about him getting into mischief when you’re not around.
Corn Snakes Aren’t Easy to Feed
Feeding time can be a hassle with rat snakes. They only eat a specific kind of meat—rodents! Now, if you don’t want to kill mice for your pet, you’ll have to buy and store frozen ones. It’s not easy. Mice, just like snakes, carry weird bacteria that can be harmful to humans. Be very careful.
Oh, and you’ll also have to thaw (sometimes even heat) your pet’s food before offering it to him. Snakes like to constrict, kill, and eat. They might not get that thrill with frozen food. So, yeah, there’s more work for you.
You’ll also have to be very specific about when to feed your pet corn. Adult corn snakes only need a mouse once every seven to ten days. Younger corn will need a warm mouse every five to seven days.
Corn Snake Companionship – Assessing the Upsides and the Downsides
Corn snakes are among the most popular pet snakes in the United States. Americans love them for their charming looks, easy-to-handle size, and gentle personalities.
But are corn snakes good pets for beginners?
Well, yes and no! It depends on who you are and how much you’re ready to invest in terms of money and time.
There are some downsides to keeping a corn snake as a pet. You’ll have to provide a comfortable and cozy home, keep up with his food demands, watch out for harmful bacteria, and care for him when he’s ill.
If you’re ready to do all that and not expect hugs and smiles in return, get a corn stunner now!
Did this article help you decide whether you’d like a red rat snake as a pet?
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