Why Won’t My Corn Snake Eat? (Or Refusing Food)

Why won’t my corn snake eat? It’s a common concern among snake lovers.

Corn snakes are usually great eaters, but sometimes they can be picky and refuse their meals, leaving you worried and unsure of what to do. But don’t fret!

In this guide, we’ll help you understand why your corn snake might not be eating and offer some useful tips to help you solve this problem. So, let’s dive into the fascinating world of corn snake feeding habits and discover why they sometimes turn down a delicious meal.

Corn snakes don’t eat very often, and they will go through periods of not eating. The most common reasons for a corn snake not to eat are:

  • It is beginning to shed
  • You fed it recently
  • The food is too cold
  • The snake is too cold
  • The food is odorless
  • The snake is feeling anxious
  • The food is too big compared to the snake
  • Your snake is ill

Look ahead for more details on why your corn snake isn’t eating and how to get it to eat.

why wont my corn snake eat

Why Is My Corn Snake Not Eating?

In this section, we’ll look at the eight main reasons your corn snake isn’t eating.

Most of the reasons are nothing to panic over and either require minor changes or patience to fix.

However, if you’re worried, there’s nothing wrong with taking your pet to the vet for a quick checkup.

#1 Beginning To Shed

Corn snakes will shed every few weeks when younger to every month when older.

The shedding process takes energy.

When a corn snake starts to shed (look for the eyes to change color), the corn snake won’t eat very much.

This is the most common reason a corn snake won’t eat if you’re caring for the snake correctly.

corn snake shedding

#2 Fed Too Recently

New owners don’t always believe the corn snake doesn’t need to be fed often.

They can go for a while without eating.

Adults only need to be fed every 7-10 days.

Babies are fed every 5-7 days.

Never feed a corn snake within 24 hours of its last feeding.

#3 Food Is Too Cold

Corn snakes only want to eat live, real food.

Pre-killed and frozen mice will work just fine, but if the prey is still cold, the snake instincts won’t let the snake eat the prey. 

#4 Snake Is Too Cold

Most reptiles use heat as part of their digestive process.

Corn snakes are no different.

If the corn snake is too cold, it won’t eat.

Make sure the tank is close to 85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C).

#5 Food Has No Odor

Snakes won’t recognize thawed mice as food unless they can smell its odor.

If you rush to thaw your mouse in hot water, the prey won’t have its scent.

Without the odor, the corn snake won’t eat.

#6 High Anxiety

If your snake is stressed out, it won’t eat either.

Corn snakes have a usually mild personality, so this won’t often be a problem.

However, if you’ve recently switched tanks, don’t be surprised if the corn snake doesn’t want to eat right away.

#7 Food Too Big

Corn snakes can only be fed food smaller than 1.5 times the size of their body at mid-length.

If you’ve given them a mouse too large, they may not eat because they naturally know they may injure themselves.

#8 Illness

There’s always a chance the snake is ill as well.

If you notice the snake is showing other signs of illness, take it to the vet.

Here are common signs of illness in corn snakes:

  • Stargazing (frozen)
  • Mouth breathing
  • Discharge
  • Lesions or lumps
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
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How Long Can A Corn Snake Go Without Eating?

Corn snakes may go for up to 2-3 months without eating.

This is because they already don’t often eat (every 7-10 days as adults), and if the snake goes into brumation, they may not eat for an extended period.

Brumation is similar to hibernation.

In brumation, colder temperatures force the snake into a low energy/low active state where they spend most of their time resting and seeking shelter.

With brumation, the corn snake’s body is naturally designed to live without eating for long periods of a couple of months.

Even outside of brumation, adult corn snakes may go for up to 2 weeks without eating.

Although they usually only eat every 7-10 days, they can stretch it longer if they’ve started shedding.

Baby corn snakes are an exception to these guidelines.

The young snakes should still eat once a week.

Learn more about how long a corn snake can go without eating.

How Often Should I Feed My Corn Snake?

Feeding a corn snake is simple!

Their easy diet is one of the main reasons they are considered one of the best reptiles for beginners.

Corn snakes need to eat one appropriately-sized mouse every 5-7 days as babies and every 7-10 days as adults.

Once they’ve grown, there usually isn’t much of a problem with getting them to eat either.

The size of the mouse is key to the corn snake diet.

corn snake eating mouse

Prey should be no more than 1.5 times the size of the snake’s body at mid-length.

Feeding them snakes food larger than this could result in choking and regurgitation, damaging the corn snake.

Read more about how often a corn snake eats.

What Do I Do If My Corn Snake Won’t Eat?

Having a pet refusing to eat is worrisome.

“Why is my snake not eating?” You wonder.

You want the best for your pet, and you don’t want it to starve!

But there’s no reason to panic.

Whenever my corn snake doesn’t eat, I go through this checklist of things to look for.

  • Is my snake shedding?
  • Has it been a week since the last feeding?
  • Is the food still frozen or cold?
  • What’s the temperature of the habitat?
  • Did I thaw the frozen mouse with hot water? (Don’t do it!)
  • Are there reasons the corn snake is distracted or stressed?

If I can answer these questions positively, I use some of the following tricks to help convince the corn snakes to eat.

If the tricks don’t work or you see other signs of illness, then you may want to take your pet to the vet.

A vet can see and examine your snake better than an article can.

Disclosure: We aren’t vets here, just experienced and enthusiastic pet owners, although all our information is checked and backed with research.

This being said, you should always check for the advice of a vet.

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Tricks For Getting Corn Snakes To Eat

Here are some of my favorite tricks for getting a corn snake to eat.

These are used at any time, not just when they’re struggling to eat.

Thaw Slowly

One of the most common mistakes new corn snake owners make with frozen mice is rushing to thaw them out.

The best way to thaw your frozen food is naturally in the air.

Don’t use hot water!

When you use water to thaw the mouse, the scent is removed from the mouse.

Without the smell, your corn snake (especially baby corn snakes) may have difficulty recognizing the prey as food.

Save yourself some trouble and plan.

Give your mouse enough time to thaw out without help.

Or better yet, use this trick in conjunction with the container trick later on in the list.

Cut The Mouse

The main reason corn snakes don’t want to eat is because they’re having a hard time recognizing the prey as food.

So, we need to do what we can to activate their hunting instincts.

Cutting the mouse allows for some blood and more of the mouse’s scent to reach the air.

This may be enough to get the corn snake interested.

Also, cutting the mouse is much less messy or intimidating than the other tricks, so I always do this first.

Brain The Mouse

If a simple cut doesn’t work, braining the mouse almost always does.

Cut the head of the mouse deep enough to go into the brain.

Then, squeeze the mouse until some of this matter reaches the air.

This is an almost guaranteed way to get the snake’s attention.

My wife can’t stand it when I have to do this, so I don’t blame you if this seems gross.

It does work, though, especially with baby corn snakes.

Tease The Snake

Another great way to trick a corn snake into eating is to tease it.

Pick up the mouse by its end and handle the corn snake safely with the other.

Tap the corn snake’s nose with the mouse until it gets interested and bites onto the mouse.

Then, gently put the corn snake down.

This way is also beneficial, but it’s a little nerve-wracking.

You are in absolutely no danger from a corn snake, but it does hurt.

Keep your fingers back when doing this.

In general, this is a trick you may only want to do with baby corn snakes.

They are much less likely to bite you when feeding accidentally.

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Use A Container

The container trick is an easy one to use with frozen prey.

It works with reasonable effectiveness, especially with adult corn snakes.

Use a container with a sealed top, but poke a few small holes in it.

Then, place the frozen or mostly thawed mouse inside.

Leave the container in the corn snake’s enclosure for a while.

As the mouse warms up, it will begin to smell.

The container will amplify the smell, and the small holes will let concentrated odors out.

This attracts the corn snakes and activates their hunting instincts.

When the corn snake shows interest in the container, remove the lid carefully, and let the corn snake at the mouse.

Find Live Prey

The best way to get a corn snake’s attention is to put live prey in the tank.

Live prey will light up the corn snake easily.

They love to hunt, and if the corn snake is at all hungry, they’ll go right for the little guys.

Note: This is hard to do with a baby and young corn snakes as live mice of the small enough size aren’t readily available.


We hope you enjoyed learning why your corn snake won’t eat.

It’s nothing to panic over; most of the reasons it won’t eat are normal.

However, as a good owner, it’s up to you to make sure you’re doing everything to help your corn snake eat.

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