During winter, when the temperatures drop below usual, animals hit “pause” on life. Warm-blooded species tuck themselves into cozy hiding spots and snooze until the weather warms up. We, humans, call this hibernation.
But, for cold-blooded animals, things are a bit different. They don’t enter a phase of deep slumber. They stay awake but remain inactive to conserve their energy. It is called brumation.
So, do corn snakes hibernate and brumate?
Corn snakes are ectotherms. It means they can’t generate their body heat. When the outside temperature drops, they enter a state of dormancy called brumation. They hide in burrows and limit their movement until it’s warm again. A corn snake doesn’t need as much food during brumation.
Ready to know more about the corn snake brumation cycle? We are here to tell you everything you must know. All so you can take better care of your pet.
So, let’s get to it right away.
Table of Contents
Do Corn Snakes Hibernate and Brumate – What’s the Difference?
Hibernation and brumation are terms that are often used interchangeably. But there’s a slight difference between them.
Hibernation is for warm-blooded animals like bears, bats, hedgehogs, and the like. During the cycle, these animals embrace a slumbering symphony. They stop feeding, their heartbeats drop, and their body temperatures fall. They stay in the state until the kiss of spring unfurls their sleepy eyes from their deep slumber.
Brumation is the reptile version of hibernation. Turtles, snakes, lizards, and other cold-blooded creatures do a different low-energy dance. They don’t go into a deep slumber like their warm-blooded pals. But they become less active and eat much less.
So, are reptiles awake when brumating?
Yes, they are awake. They can move if they want or if their bodies sense a temperature rise.
Do corn snakes brumate?
Yes, they do! Come wintertime, your slithery sidekick may enter a state of semi-hibernation. It’s not as dramatic as a bear going into a complete “do-not-disturb” phase, but it still involves some physiological changes.
Do All Corn Snakes Brumate?
Brumation is typical behavior in wild corn snakes. They brumate to save themselves from freezing while looking for food which is already scarce in the winter.
So, what wild corn snakes do is cozy up in their secret hideaways – no hunting, no eating. It’s like their way of saying, “Nah, winter, I’ll catch ya on the flip side!”
But brumation isn’t universal among corn snakes. Some brumate yearly, while others do it occasionally. Still, some might not brumate at all. It’s a personal choice and depends on the snake’s environment.
Do Pet Corn Snakes Brumate?
What about my pet corn snake? Will he brumate?
Well, not naturally.
It’s simple. First, your house will barely get cooler than 70 degrees Fahrenheit – that’s not cool enough for snakes to make them want to brumate. Even if it does get colder than that, you’ll use lamps and heaters to keep your snake cozy. So, he’ll always be warm.
Also, pet corn snakes don’t have a shortage of food. Their human keepers will always make sure they have enough mice-y meals to last them throughout the winter. It’s ideal for them – why would they want to become dormant then?
Can I induce brumation?
Yes, if you want to, you can induce brumation. Most snake breeders do it. You’ll find more on it below.
When Do Corn Snakes Hibernate?
What time of the year do corn snakes naturally hibernate?
Corn snakes start feeling the brumation vibes when fall rolls around, bringing cooler and shorter days. So, expect your corn snake to become slower between November and February.
However, if your captive corn snake is enjoying the perks of a cozy enclosure, he might just skip the whole brumation affair.
When do they get active again?
The slumbering serpents will get back to their slithering selves in the spring. So, when April or May finally arrive, corn snakes will pop their heads out of their hideouts, stretch their scales, and embrace the warmer days. It’s their cue to say, “Hey, world, we’re back!”
How Long Do Corn Snakes Hibernate?
Corn snakes don’t hibernate. They brumate. But it’s okay. Many people use the terms interchangeably.
Now, coming back to the main concern: how long do corn snakes brumate?
Brumation cycles last for a few weeks. For wild corn snakes, it can last throughout the winter or up to four months. In captivity, the process is much shorter. Expect your pet corn snake to stay dormant for six to eight weeks.
Can I brumate my corn snake?
You can. Most corn snake breeders do. But keep in mind that your pet will need special care during the process.
Inducing Brumation in Pet Corn Snakes
As we mentioned earlier, not all corn snakes brumate. If you keep your striped serpent warm, he’ll stay active even during the colder months. However, snake breeders often opt to induce brumation in their captive corn snakes. It allows the snake’s body and metabolism to reset, leading to healthier reptiles.
Is that all there’s in it for breeders?
Not quite. Check out the major reason below.
Why Do Breeders Brumate Corn Snakes?
Brumation coaxes corn snakes to breed. During the cycle, a snake’s body temperature lowers, boosting fertility. Male corn snakes produce healthier sperm that matures better. Female corn snakes, on the other hand, develop better egg follicles.
The cycle also lowers a snake’s metabolism, leading to improved digestion. It is a must for any breeder who wants to deliver healthy hatchlings to their buyers.
How to Brumate Corn Snakes?
What if I want to brumate my corn snake? Can I? How?
If you want to brumate your pet snake, you can. Here’s what you must do if you want your corn snakes to brumate successfully:
Lower the Temperature Gradually
Temperature and lighting conditions trigger brumation. If you want to brumate your corn snake successfully, lower the temperature in your snake’s enclosure. Ideally, the temperature must be between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Do it gradually over a period of two to three weeks.
Reduce Feeding Sessions
Your corn snake will need as much energy as he can store to get past the dormant days. So, continue feeding your snake leading up to the brumation period. But once he enters the phase, reduce the number of feeding sessions to once in a few weeks.
Also, offer small meals like a few pinky mice. Adult corn snakes can survive up to two to three months without food, so don’t worry if your snake doesn’t eat anything during the brumation period. However, make sure you keep plenty of fresh water in a water bowl for your snake to drink.
Provide Enough Hiding Spots
Corn snakes love to hide in snug places and feel secure. Hence, provide plenty of hiding spots or shelters in their enclosure, such as tree logs, rocks, bark, and leaves. This will help them feel secure and comfortable during the brumation period.
Monitor Your Corn Snake’s Health
Brumating snakes are less active. It is normal behavior. But if you find anything unusual, like changes in their weight or discoloration of the skin, you should contact a vet right away.
Breeding Corn Snakes Without Hibernation
How to breed corn snakes without brumation?
You can breed corn snakes without brumating them. Simply maintain the temperature and humidity in their enclosures throughout the year. It’ll simulate the environment of a natural hibernation period. But this comes with certain risks.
What??? What risks?
Well, there’s always the risk of no breeding. Your corn snake might not feel “motivated” or show no interest in breeding without a period of brumation.
There’s also a chance of unfertilized eggs or weak hatchlings. Without brumation, your corn snake may not have the same energy and vigor to produce healthy eggs or hatchlings.
Plus, when females don’t brumate, they have a higher risk of developing egg-binding. It is when the female has difficulty laying her eggs. It can potentially lead to death in severe cases.
Signs of a Brumating Corn Snake
Do you suspect your corn snake might be taking a time-out? Not sure?
Here’s the inside scoop on the signs that your slithery buddy might be brumating.
First off, keep an eye out for a sudden drop in activity levels. If your snake is usually an energetic explorer but has suddenly turned into a couch potato, that could be a clue.
Another telltale sign is a change in appetite. If your snake has been giving you the cold shoulder at mealtime, it could indicate that he’s taking a little break from the buffet. Brumation reduces appetites.
Your snake will also start looking for a dark, secluded resting place. If he suddenly prefers back corners and under furniture, your snake might be ready to settle in for the season.
Irritation to touch and light can also be signs of brumation. If your snake is usually an affectionate little bundle, but he’s now flinching when you try to pick him up, let him be.
Diving into the Depths of Dormancy: Decoding Corn Snake Hibernation and Brumation
When winter rolls in, many animals curl up and hibernate. However, cold-blooded creatures, like corn snakes, don’t hibernate. They brumate.
Brumation and hibernation are very similar. They involve slowing down metabolism, dropping body temperature, and lower activity levels. But during brumation, your corn snake stays awake. He isn’t completely unaware of his surroundings. He may still eat or drink if you offer food. That’s the key difference between the two.
Brumation usually occurs in the late fall and winter months when the temperature drops below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to brumate your corn snake, lower his enclosure temperature to mimic his natural environment. You can also reduce the hours he’s exposed to light daily and feed him less.
Did you find the information in this article helpful?
At Oddly Cute Pets, we understand how important your pet is to you. That’s why we provide detailed information about their habits and needs. If you’re looking for more information on reptiles and other small animals, we can help! Visit our website for more advice on caring for your pet and keeping him healthy and safe.
Thanks for reading!