Corn Snake Humidity, Temperature & Lighting (Complete Guide)

As with every pet reptile, corn snakes must be housed within a reasonably particular range of humidity levels and temperatures. 

After all, replicating the environmental conditions of the natural habitat of a corn snake as closely as possible is key to having a happy, healthy pet for years to come. 

Thankfully, the process of setting up and maintaining the correct temperature and humidity is both simple and inexpensive.

The ideal humidity range for a corn snake is between 40% and 60%. Your corn snake’s enclosure should also have a gentle temperature gradient, with a basking area between 85-90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C), a cool side of 75-80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C), and an average ambient temp of 80-85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C).

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the ideal conditions for corn snakes and how to keep their enclosure temperature, humidity, and lighting settings just right.

corn snake humidity
Keep your corn snakes healthy with the right humidity settings.

Corn Snake Humidity

What is the Ideal Humidity For Corn Snakes? 

The humidity in your corn snake’s enclosure should be somewhere within 40% to 60% or as close to 50% as possible. This will ensure your snake sheds appropriately and doesn’t develop respiratory issues. Plus, it closely replicates the conditions of their natural habitat, where warmth and slight humidity are typical. Just keep in mind that humidity for corn snakes may vary from one snake to the other. Each snake has its own humidity preferences, so it’s important to keep an eye on your pet’s behavior and make adjustments as needed.

You’ll ideally monitor your snake’s enclosure’s humidity levels with a hygrometer.

In general, most corn snakes will do best when housed in an enclosure with a moderate humidity level or somewhere between 40% and 60%. 

Proper humidity is essential for a few key reasons, primarily:

  • Providing enough moisture for a safe and easy shed every time
  • Preventing respiratory infections and other related respiratory health issues
  • Replicating your corn snake’s natural habitat’s conditions (warm and slightly humid) as closely as possible to make them feel comfortable and safe in your care

There are several ways to boost or lower the humidity in your corn snake’s enclosure. 

The size of your corn snake’s water bowl, for instance, will affect the level of humidity in the tank. 

Additionally, the substrate used and how well it retains moisture, misters, and foggers, and the amount of ventilation in the enclosure will also play a role in the humidity level at any given time.

Don’t be discouraged if it takes a bit of experimenting at first to get your corn snake’s enclosure’s humidity level within the acceptable range! 

If possible, set up your corn snake’s habitat a few days before bringing your pet home for the first time, so you’re able to do a “trial run” of their enclosure settings. 

Having a hygrometer such as this dual thermometer and hygrometer from REPTI ZOO is essential.

Do Corn Snakes Need Misting?

In general, corn snake enclosures do not need to be misted regularly, though misting will boost humidity levels in a pinch. Ensuring your snake has a large bowl of water to soak in and occasionally misting their body directly with warm water while shedding will also help prevent stuck shed.

Usually, you won’t need to regularly mist your corn snake’s enclosure, as simply providing a large enough water bowl and the proper substrate (aspen or coconut fiber both work great!) is more than enough to keep humidity within the proper range.

However, keeping a misting bottle on hand is a good idea! 

Misting is a great way to raise humidity very quickly temporarily while you adjust the other enclosure settings to get the humidity to a more consistently appropriate level.

There are also automatic misters with timers available from many pet supply retailers, though these are more intended for reptiles that require very high humidity in the 70-80%+ range. 

If you do opt for an automatic mister, be sure to keep the misting intervals low and check the humidity often to ensure it doesn’t get too high too quickly.

Misting by hand is a lot more easily adjustable for corn snakes and will prevent the humidity from becoming too high and causing respiratory issues.

How to Keep the Humidity Up in Your Tank

The best ways to keep humidity within the appropriate range is to use a moisture-retaining substrate, adjust the size and placement of your corn snake’s water bowl, and mist the enclosure with water, either by hand or by using an automatic mister or fogger.

Thankfully, the humidity range for corn snakes tends to maintain itself if you use a suitable substrate and a large enough water bowl. 

As we touched on briefly earlier, the best substrates for corn snakes are coconut fiber and shredded aspen. 

A mixture of the two is often a good choice, as coconut fiber retains moisture very well while aspen is slightly drier overall.

When it comes to your snake’s water bowl, it should be large enough for your snake to soak their entire body in comfortably at its leisure. 

Place the water bowl somewhere between the basking area and the cool side of the enclosure so it doesn’t evaporate immediately under the bulb but rather gradually add small amounts of humidity to the air over time.

Additionally, as mentioned above, misting is the fastest and perhaps easiest way to boost humidity levels in a pinch. 

This is easily accomplished with a simple spray bottle and misting by hand as needed or by using an automatic/timed mister or fogger. 

While a mister sprays, well, mist into the air, a fogger (like this one on Amazon) periodically releases puffs of fog into the enclosure. 

Both are commonly used to boost the humidity in reptile and amphibian enclosures. 

Keep in mind some reptile owners have had issues with foggers boosting humidity levels too high for corn snakes in particular. 

If you opt for a mister or fogger, be sure to monitor the enclosure’s humidity carefully while you adjust it to ensure it doesn’t rise beyond 65% or so.

What Are Humid Hides?

A humid hide is precisely what it sounds like: a cozy, humid hiding spot for your snake to sit in occasionally, in particular, while they’re shedding to ease along the process. Place your snake’s humid hide towards (but not directly under) the basking bulb on the warm side of the tank for best results.

Many reptiles, including corn snakes, benefit greatly from having a humid hide to relax in, especially while they’re preparing to shed or in the middle of shedding. 

A small, plastic cave or even an opaque Tupperware-style container with a door cut into it will work nicely, provided it is large enough for your snake to curl up in and move around in comfortably but also small enough to feel cozy and safe. 

If you create your humid hide, just be sure to file down any sharp or rough edges, especially around the hide entrance. 

The walls of the hide should also be opaque for privacy. 

After all, nobody wants to feel exposed while they’re getting changed, including your snake!

Your snake’s humid hide should also have a small layer of moisture-retaining substrates, such as coconut fiber and/or sphagnum moss, to boost and maintain the humidity in the hide. 

Misting this from time to time and ensuring it’s slightly moist to the touch will ensure the humidity stays high inside the hide while keeping the overall enclosure’s humidity within an appropriate range.

Temperatures For Corn Snakes

corn snake temperature setting
Proper temperature settings for corn snakes are essential.

What is the Ideal Temperature For Corn Snakes?

Your corn snake’s enclosure needs a subtle temperature gradient to allow your pet to thermoregulate properly. The basking area should be within 85-90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C), the opposite cool side should be between 75-80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C), and the middle of the enclosure should be within around 80-85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C).

As with most reptiles commonly kept as pets, corn snakes require a range of temperatures to thrive. 

This range is known as a temperature gradient, and it’s essential to allow your snake to move from one end of the enclosure to the other to regulate its body temperature as needed.

There is a bit of debate amongst reptile owners regarding the ideal temperatures for corn snakes. 

Still, the consensus seems to be that somewhere between 75° and 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C) is best, depending on the area of the tank. 

It is safe for temperatures to drop to around 65° to 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C) at night, but only at night.

Your snake’s basking area will be the hottest part of the enclosure, and it doesn’t particularly matter what side it’s on as long as it’s there. 

At most, this should be around 85-90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C).  

Temperature is one of the elements of snake care helping corn snakes live a long life (click to learn about the others).

Corn Snake Temperature at Night

Corn snakes are reptiles and rely on external sources to regulate their body temperature. That’s why maintaining a proper nighttime temperature is crucial for their well-being. 

To make sure your corn snake is happy and healthy, it’s essential to maintain a slightly cooler environment at night than during the day. This helps simulate the natural body temperature fluctuations in their habitat.

The recommended corn snake temperature range at night is usually between 70°F and 75°F (21°C to 24°C). This cooler environment promotes a natural physiological state for the snake, allowing it to rest and conserve energy.

To achieve the appropriate nighttime temperature, you can use a heat source such as an under-tank heating pad or ceramic heat emitter. Just remember to avoid using bright lights at night, as corn snakes are nocturnal and sensitive to light. Make sure to monitor the temperature within the enclosure with a reliable thermometer to ensure consistency and prevent temperature extremes.

How to Heat Corn Snake Enclosures

The two main methods of heating a corn snake enclosure are basking bulbs and heat mats. A heat mat; however, is a bit unreliable and have been known to cause burns if not carefully monitored. A basking bulb is generally the best option since your snake also needs a 12/12 photocycle each day.

The easiest way to heat your corn snake’s enclosure is to simply place a basking bulb or two at one end (the hot end) of the tank. 

The exact wattage and placement will depend a bit on your home’s temperature, but usually, a 75 to 120-watt bulb, like this 100-watt bulb from Zoo Med, is adequate to keep temperatures within the appropriate range. 

Avoid red, blue, or other colored bulbs, as these do not mimic natural sunlight well and are pretty harsh on your snake’s eyes. 

Ceramic heat emitters are great for a nighttime heat source if your home drops below 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C) or so at night, as you should be turning off the basking bulbs at night for around 12 hours per day to provide a 12/12 photocycle. 

A ceramic heat emitter is exactly what it sounds like–a heating element that doesn’t give off light. 

While corn snakes are hardy when it comes to their tolerance of temperatures, a bit of nighttime heating will go a long way in making them more comfortable.

Another common method is to use an under-tank heat pad or heat mat designed for reptiles like pet snakes

According to most reptile experts, these aren’t ideal as the mats won’t heat the entirety of your snake’s enclosure very efficiently, and they often cause burns, especially if they don’t come with an attached thermostat.

In a pinch, if you have nothing else, a heat mat is fine for a bit of supplemental heat if you monitor its temperature very carefully, but it’s best to switch to a plain, white basking bulb as soon as possible.

Heat rocks are not advised, either, as they are even more notorious culprits of burns. 

Additionally, they only heat the rock’s surface and don’t contribute any additional ambient heat to the enclosure.

Can You Keep Corn Snakes Warm Without a Heat Lamp?

It is possible to temporarily keep a corn snake warm with an under-tank heater or heat mat, but this isn’t advisable for long-term heating. Snakes need a 12/12 photocycle, so a plain, white basking bulb (and potentially a ceramic heat emitter for nighttime) is ideal.

As we touched on above, there are a few other methods of heating a corn snake’s enclosure: ceramic heat emitters, heat mats/under tank heaters, and heat rocks.

Ceramic heat emitters are excellent for nighttime heating, though they aren’t necessary if your home is at least 65-70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C) at night. 

Otherwise, it’s safe to simply turn off the basking bulb(s) for 12 hours or so at night and then turn them back on in the morning.

While a heat mat or heat pad remain a standard heating method, they aren’t ideal, and heat rocks are even worse, as they have been known to cause burns. 

They also won’t do much to heat the rest of the corn snake tank, either.

Read more about corn snakes and heat lamps in our dedicated article.

How Cold is Too Cold For Corn Snakes?

Your corn snake’s overall enclosure temperature should never drop below 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C) at night. During the day, the coolest part of your snake’s enclosure should be at least 75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C).

It’s crucial to keep your corn snake’s enclosure warm enough, so your snake can digest food, shed, and generally feel comfortable and safe in their environment. 

Just be sure the temperatures don’t drop below the amounts we talked about.

Corn Snake Lighting

corn snake lighting setting
Corn snakes need 12 hour off light and 12 hours of darkness.

What Kind of Lighting Do Corn Snakes Need?

Corn snakes need a basking bulb to sun themselves under from time to time. They also benefit from a small amount of UVB lighting or a bulb with a 3% to 5% output. UVB assists with digestion and immune health and allows your snake to properly absorb calcium from its diet.

Your corn snake’s enclosure should ideally have two types of lighting: a plain, white-domed heat lamp for basking and a low-output UVB bulb. 

While there is a bit of debate amongst corn snake keepers over whether or not these snakes require UVB to survive, we know various aspects of their health greatly benefit from it, so it’s always a good thing to have. 

A bulb with a 3% to 5% output is plenty for healthy corn snakes to promote proper digestive and immune health, and it’ll also allow their body to absorb and utilize calcium properly.

How Long Should Lights Be On?

Even though they are more active at night, your corn snake needs to experience a 12/12 photocycle, or around 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness each day. This replicates the sunlight conditions in their natural habitat.

Like we touched on earlier, you’ll likely be able to simply turn off your pet corn snake’s main basking bulb or two at night with no issues and no need for additional heating. 

However, if the temperature in your home dips below the nighttime low, a ceramic heat emitter like this one on Amazon will keep things warm without interfering with lighting conditions.

Do Corn Snakes Need a Night Light?

Corn snakes do not need any additional lighting at night. Colored blue and red bulbs should especially be avoided, as they will interfere with your snake’s circadian rhythm and sleep patterns and irritate their eyes.

It’s best to just turn your snake’s lights off (including UVB) at night for around 12 hours per day. 

Nighttime lighting is not necessary and will, at best, annoy your snake and, at worst, seriously interfere with their sleep schedule and do damage to their eyesight.

If your home’s temperature drops below the low-temperature mark, be sure to use a ceramic heat emitter (which doesn’t give off light) to provide your snake with enough warmth to get by until the morning when you turn the basking bulb back on.

Do Corn Snakes Need UVB?

Most corn snakes do not necessarily need UVB to survive, though they greatly benefit from it, so it’s highly recommended. A low-output 3% to 5% UVB bulb is usually sufficient to provide your snake with enough UVB to digest food, help them process calcium, and maintain its immune health.

While there has been a lot of debate amongst snake owners and experts over whether or not corn snakes need UVB in captivity, nowadays, the consensus is it’s highly recommended if not considered mandatory by most reptile experts.

When it comes to UVB lighting, you’ll generally follow the same schedule as your basking bulb’s schedule. 

Simply turn it on during the day for around 12 hours, and leave it off at night for another 12 hours or so. 

Using a timer will help greatly if you find yourself forgetting to switch them over at night!

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