Corn snakes are one of the most popular types of snakes kept as pets.
They are curious and docile by nature and make excellent beginner snakes.
Some of us may be interested in breeding our corn snakes, but the question arises- how do you breed corn snakes and make babies?
Compared to other snake species, corn snakes are relatively easy to breed, but there are quite a few factors to keep in mind.
We’ll go over everything you need to know and walk you through all the steps of breeding corn snakes.
Table of Contents
Preparing you and your snakes for the upcoming babies is very important.
Corn snakes lay up to 30 eggs, which means 30 baby snakes need habitats, food, and attention.
Here are the materials you’ll need to breed your corn snakes and take care of the offspring.
- Plenty of plastic boxes with secure lids for hatchlings
- Spray bottle for misting
- Journal to track data
- Extra food for babies and parents
- Small water bowl
- Substrate capable of holding moisture
- ½ gallon plastic tub to use as a nesting box
- Incubator (Find On Amazon)
- Incubating medium (Find On Amazon)
- Hygrometer to measure humidity (Find On Amazon)
Decide Whether To Breed Corn Snakes
The idea of breeding our corn snakes and having lots of hatchlings seems great, but there are a few things to consider.
Breeding is not a risk-free endeavor and does bear the possibility of injury, sickness, and death.
Make sure you think the risks through before you start the process of breeding.
What To Do With All The Hatchlings
When corn snakes breed, they do not produce just one or two hatchlings.
Most of the time, the female corn snake will lay up to 30 eggs at a time.
This means you will have 30 hatchlings and snakes to sell or give away.
You must make sure you have the demand, so all the snakes have a home after they are born.
If you are unsure of what to do with all the corn snake hatchlings, we don’t recommend attempting to breed your snakes.
Risk Of Injury Or Death During Breeding
Breeding takes a toll on female snakes physically, and there is a chance she won’t make it through the process.
Sickly or underweight females should not be considered for breeding.
If the adult snake isn’t in optimal health, it is less likely to have the strength to breed successfully. Introducing two corn snakes is also risky.
Sometimes it results in cannibalism, although it is uncommon.
Another risk includes the possibility of spreading disease, parasites, or bacteria.
Some snakes are hosts to things without showing any signs. If bacteria or parasites are introduced to another snake, they may have the immune system to fight it off and will suffer for it.
Breeding Is A Commitment
Successful and experienced corn snake breeders know breeding takes time and isn’t done in a single day.
Wild corn snakes spend their entire lives preparing to mate and breed.
If you plan to breed corn snakes, you must prepare them and set them up for success.
This starts in the fall, before the winter months, and extends for an entire year.
You need to work with the biological clock of your corn snakes to make sure they can successfully fertilize and lay corn snake eggs.
Choosing The Right Snakes
The first step in breeding corn snakes is inspecting your snakes and choosing the best ones.
Healthy snakes have a much higher chance of successfully breeding without negative impacts on their health.
You’ll want to weigh and inspect each snake.
Some things you’ll want to look out for include:
- Bright eyes with no discharge
- Healthy weight for size and age
- Male corn snakes at least 2 years old
- Female corn snakes at least 3 years old
- Healthy skin free of dry patches or lesions
- Pink mouths free of any sores or discharge
Many experienced corn snake breeders will keep track of the various behaviors and the size and weight of the snake throughout the year.
This helps them decide as to which snakes are healthy enough to breed.
It is good to keep track of all facts and figures throughout the breeding process to learn and gain experience.
Prepare Corn Snakes For Brumation/Hibernation
If you are new to breeding snakes, this may be the first time you’ve heard the term brumation.
Brumation is very similar to hibernation. It is an essential part of mating and breeding for cold-blooded reptiles.
During this time, your corn snakes will slow down their metabolisms.
They will not eat during this time, but their bodies will be preparing for breeding.
During this time, females develop egg follicles, and males undergo spermatogenesis.
It’s important to mimic the conditions corn snakes experience in the wild to encourage these processes to get them ready for the breeding season.
To do this, you will need to bulk up your corn snakes during the first two weeks of November.
Providing extra food during this time ensures your snakes are well-equipped to make it through a few months of brumation.
During the second half of November, you’ll stop feeding your adult corn snakes and allow them to empty their digestive tracts before entering brumation.
This is very important because any undigested food left may cause infection.
By mid-December, you will be transitioning the corn snakes into the dark and keeping temperatures between 55-60° degrees Fahrenheit (16° C) to encourage brumation.
The most important factors for brumation are cold temperatures and lack of food.
This encourages the snakes to enter the processes necessary to prepare biologically for breeding.
We recommend checking in on your snakes every week or so during brumation to make sure there are no signs of health issues or excessive weight loss.
This way, you’ll be able to catch any concerns early and receive professional veterinary help.
Transition Snakes Out Of Brumation
In March, you’ll begin to transition your corn snakes out of brumation.
Do this by raising the temperature and slowly introducing food.
Some corn snake breeders like to gradually increase temperatures over time.
Others crank up the heat and turn on the lights to encourage snakes to transition.
It depends on your preference, but some feel slowly turning up the heat allows time for harmful bacteria to grow in the snake’s habitats.
We recommend inspecting each snake for any signs of skin issues, eye discharge, or excessive weight loss to make sure there aren’t any health issues.
When your corn snakes first get out of brumation, you’ll want to feed them pinky mice or baby mice and slowly work them up to full adult mice.
This allows the digestive system to transition and allows the snakes to build their appetite back up.
It’s especially important to feed females extra during this time to build up their weight as females lose weight when they are bred.
Some gravid females will stop eating about a week before they lay their eggs; during this time, they will lose some weight, so it’s best to prepare for this by feeding them extra beforehand.
Watch For First Shed After Brumation
Once your snakes are fully out of brumation and are putting their weight back on, it is almost time to start the mating process.
The tell-tale sign of a corn snake being ready to breed is their first skin shed after brumation.
This typically occurs about 2 weeks after they are transitioned out of brumation for males.
For females, this process takes a bit longer and usually occurs about 2-3 weeks after the males have shed their skins.
Make sure the corn snakes you plan to breed are shedding well. Incomplete shedding is a possible sign of underlying health issues and should not be ignored.
Once the females shed their skin, the males begin to smell and detect the pheromones of the fertile females.
You’ll likely notice male corn snakes getting restless around this time and pacing their habitat.
This is a great sign indicating that the male is ready to court and copulate with the female, and nature is doing its thing effectively.
For corn snake shedding questions, check out our article at the link.
Introduce Male To Female
Once both the male and female you intend to breed have successfully shed their skin, it is time to introduce them to each other.
We highly recommend introducing the male corn snake into the female’s enclosure.
Most snake breeders prefer to introduce snakes to avoid any issues with territorial behavior from the males.
Make sure to keep an eye on the snakes and make sure they aren’t going to injure each other.
This is uncommon, but it’s best to step in quickly should the introduction go poorly.
At this point, your snakes are becoming acquainted with each other, and you’ll start to see signs of courting.
Courting usually consists of the female snake sliding past the male, and the male, in turn, chases the female around the enclosure.
Younger corn snakes tend to be more rambunctious during this stage and may knock over water bowls or furnishings in the enclosure.
Copulation occurs when the two snakes join together towards their tail ends.
They usually stay entwined like this for about 30 minutes or so.
Once the copulation is finished, remove the male snake from the female’s enclosure.
Repeat this step every 2-4 days for two weeks to ensure fertilization.
Observe For Signs Of Swelling In The Female Corn Snake
At this point, you’ll need to be keeping an eye out for signs of successful fertilization.
There are a few indicators of this, but the most apparent is the swelling of the female corn snake’s belly. Usually, corn snakes have a flat and sleek body.
Fertilized females will start to round out.
You’ll also notice a peak form along the bottom half of the body.
This is the movement of muscle up the body to make room for the eggs.
The rounded body is fairly easy to identify once it forms. It is the tell-tale sign of your female corn snake forming eggs.
Once you notice the swelling, put a nesting box into the female snake’s enclosure if you haven’t already.
Using a 1/2 gallon tub is a great make-shift nesting box.
Make sure to cut an access hole for the female to go in and out of.
Keeping a bowl of water nearby is also beneficial.
Make sure to fill the nesting box with a quality substrate to hold moisture and ideal humidity levels.
This also provides material for the snake to burrow and a soft place for egg-laying.
Make sure to feed your female frequently during the time before she lays.
Some gravid females will stop eating 5-7 days before laying eggs.
You’ll want to give her as much fuel and nutrients as possible to keep her from losing too much weight during the egg-laying process.
Move Clutch Of Eggs To Incubator
Once your female snake has successfully laid the clutch of eggs, it’s time to move them to an incubator.
Some people find using an incubator to be unnecessary, but we recommend using one, especially if you are a beginner.
Make sure to fill the incubator with a quality incubator medium like vermiculite to keep moisture levels adequate.
The eggshells effectively breathe, so keeping the space at a good humidity level is important.
It is also important to keep the eggs warm, ideally between 75-82° degrees Fahrenheit (28° C).
Moisture is key for the eggs.
Wet the vermiculite and squeeze out the excess water.
Use your hygrometer to maintain humidity levels of around 70% to keep ideal conditions for hatching.
You may notice some “slugs” or bad eggs at this time.
These are infertile eggs.
Their odor and coloring easily identify them.
Usually, slugs appear slightly more yellow than the rest of the clutch.
Removing slugs from the clutch is fairly simple most of the time.
Sometimes they will get stuck to the good eggs in the clutch.
If this is the case, gently use a bit of dental floss to separate and remove the bad egg.
Feed Female Corn Snake To Restore Body Weight
After the snake eggs have hatched and you have a plethora of baby corn snakes squirming about, it’s time to take care of your female and reward her for all her hard work.
Chances are your gravid female has lost a significant amount of weight and will need to replenish herself.
If she stopped eating at any point, make sure to ease back in with pinkies and work your way up to adult mice.
Feed 2-3 times a week during this time to get her weight back up.
You’ll be going through a lot of feed at this time as you care for the hatchlings and breeding pair.
For more feeding tips, check out our corn snake eating guide.
The first clutch usually hatches in April.
Some experienced breeders carry out multiple breeding sessions with the same partners per year.
We do not recommend this if you are a beginner.
Even experienced breeders need to carefully observe and monitor the females for any signs of excessive weight loss or other health issues.
Breeding takes a toll on females, and it is not worth the risk of injury or death by forcing another brood on her.
Video Instructions And Timestamps
- Prepare Corn Snakes For Brumation/Hibernation 1:22
- Transition Snakes Out Of Brumation 2:15
- Watch For First Shed After Brumation 3:05
- Introduce Male To Female 3:34
- Observe For Signs Of Swelling In The Female Corn Snake 3:44
- Move Clutch Of Eggs To Incubator 4:14
Mistakes To Avoid When You Breed Corn Snakes
If this is your first time breeding corn snakes, you may be worried about making some mistakes here and there.
We will let you know some of the most common mistakes made during the breeding process to save you frustration.
Some corn snake owners want to just right into breeding.
This may work but completely bypasses the important process of egg follicle production and spermatogenesis occurring during the brumation period.
Make sure your snakes are biologically ready to reproduce before introducing them.
Not Removing “Slugs” Or Dead Eggs
Dead eggs are not good to keep around healthy fertilized eggs.
Snake eggs effectively breathe, and having the potential bacteria of a dead egg in the clutch is a recipe for trouble.
Make sure to remove all dead and unfertilized eggs from the incubator.
Breeding Unhealthy Corn Snakes
Only ever breed healthy corn snakes.
Do not breed the snakes if there are any signs of illness, infection, parasites, or disease.
This leads to injury, the spread of infection, or even death in some cases.
If you are unsure whether your corn snakes are healthy enough to breed, consult a veterinary professional before moving forward.
Breeding The Same Snakes Multiple Times A Year
The breeding process takes a toll on the corn snakes, especially the females.
We do not recommend breeding the same snakes multiple times in a single season.
If you are an experienced breeder, identify when a female is worn out from the first round of laying eggs.
Only use young and healthy females for multiple breedings in the same year.
If it is the female’s first year of breeding, limit it to one brood, so her body adjusts.
Crossbreeding Different Snake Species
Some people have multiple snakes of different species and get the idea in their heads to crossbreed and create a beautiful snake.
We do not recommend this.
Crossbreeding should only be carried out by experts.
Certain species of snakes crossbreed with no problems, but others result in injury, death, and deformities.
Leave the experimental breeding to the professionals and stick with the same species of corn snakes.