Can Corn Snakes Swim Safely?

If you have a pet corn snake, you’ve probably wondered at some point if they’re particularly strong swimmers. 

Furthermore, do corn snakes enjoy swimming and having water in their enclosures?

Virtually all snakes, including corn snakes, are skilled swimmers and greatly enjoy an occasional swim. Plus, since they are able to absorb some water through their skin, having warm water to soak and swim in helps keep them hydrated and also assists with shedding.

Read on to learn more about corn snakes, how much they enjoy water both in the wild and in captivity, and how well they are able to swim. 

We’ll also go over the best ways to provide water to your snake in captivity for swimming, soaking, and drinking.

can corn snakes swim

Are Corn Snakes Able to Swim?

While they definitely don’t look like they’d be very competent swimmers, corn snakes (and snakes as a whole) actually love swimming both in the wild and in captivity from time to time! 

Despite not having webbed feet, fins, or even any limbs to speak of, snakes’ bodies are very strong and muscular enough to propel themselves through the water by moving in S-shaped motions.

Corn snakes are a type of rat snake and are very small as far as snakes go, but they’re still more than strong enough to swim safely through most bodies of water. 

They keep their heads slightly above water, while their long, thin bodies wave back and forth to stay afloat. 

They’re native to much of the southeastern United States, and they’re commonly found dwelling in shrublands and other dense plant growth near bodies of water.

By simply undulating their bodies rapidly in an S-shape, they are able to move surprisingly quickly in water with no limbs necessary! 

Sometimes, corn snakes even hunt prey like small fish in shallow bodies of water by ambushing and dragging them to the shore to constrict them.

Fortunately, they are harmless, mild-mannered, and non-venomous animals to humans, so if you encounter one in a lake or river, they’re far more likely to flee than attack. 

In fact, it’s best to leave them be if you see one in a body of water, since they help to control various pest populations which would otherwise spread diseases!

Do Corn Snakes Need Water in Their Enclosures?

In captivity, corn snakes enjoy having some water nearby both to drink from and soak their bodies in. 

However, they also prefer high temperatures with fairly low humidity levels of around 40% to 60% at most. 

This means too much water in their enclosures often ends up raising the humidity to an unsafe level, which commonly causes respiratory issues and infections.

How should you provide water to your snake in captivity, then? 

Well, it’s best to provide a small bowl of water for drinking at the cooler end of your corn snake’s enclosure so it doesn’t quickly evaporate under the heat of their basking lamp. 

If it doesn’t interfere with the humidity level too much, it’s possible to increase the size of the water dish to a bowl large enough for the snake to soak their body in from time to time. 

This will also help loosen your snake’s skin when it’s time for them to shed. 

If your snake shows interest in soaking themselves often, it’s probably a sign they would enjoy swimming in a larger body of water on occasion.

Keep in mind not all corn snakes enjoy swimming–some take to it very easily, while others only show interest in water when they’re actively shedding their skin.

Do Corn Snakes Need Baths?

Corn snakes don’t really need baths to stay clean, since they shed their skin from time to time anyway. 

However, most corn snakes naturally enjoy swimming and are able to absorb some water through their skin! 

This means it’s a good idea to offer them a larger body of clean, shallow, fresh water to swim and soak in outside of their tank occasionally, especially if your snake shows a lot of interest in their drinking water bowl in their enclosure.

Start out with presenting your snake with a larger body of a few inches of clean, lukewarm water, perhaps in your sink, bathtub, or even just a large plastic container. 

The water temperature should be warm and comfortable but not hot! If possible, present it to them when you know they are due for a shed so they will be more receptive. 

Make sure they have an easy way out of the water when they get tired so they don’t potentially drown or injure themselves.

Pay attention to your snake’s body language–did they immediately slither in and start swimming about, or are they more hesitant? 

This will give you an idea of whether or not your snake would enjoy soaking in a large body of water from time to time. 

If they seem to take to it right away, as most pet snakes will, consider doing it again every week or two for some extra enrichment, hydration, and assistance with the shedding process.

And don’t be surprised if your snake defecates in the water! 

This is a normal behavior for most animals, reptiles in particular, as the warm water often stimulates their bowel movements. 

Just be sure to remove your snake from their “bath,” clean and drain the water, and then put them back in clean water if they aren’t quite finished splashing about.

Do Corn Snakes Need Water For Shedding?

While most corn snakes will shed properly as long as their temperature and humidity settings are correct, they also tend to enjoy having at least a small container of water to soak in when they’re preparing to start shedding.

On average, adult corn snakes shed every month or two, while juvenile and baby corn snakes shed much more often due to their rapidly growing bodies. 

While having a humid hide is usually enough to help them shed properly, an occasional warm bath is also helpful.

As we touched on earlier, if it doesn’t interfere with your snake’s enclosure’s humidity settings too significantly, feel free to place a container of water large enough for your pet to soak in towards the cooler end of their tank so it doesn’t immediately evaporate under their basking bulb. 

Keep this bathing bowl as clean as possible, checking it closely for any messes daily, especially if your corn snake soaks in it often.

Alternatively, you always have the option of just taking your snake out of their enclosure for a soak in your sink, bathtub, or a large, shallow bowl like we detailed in the previous section of this article. 

This way, you won’t have to monitor the humidity settings quite as closely (however, your snake still needs a small dish in their tank to drink from!).

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