Did you just get a new corn snake?
Is feeding this not-so-little guy confusing or scary?
Don’t feel bad!
Feeding snakes can seem intimidating.
But we’re here to help you figure out how to feed a corn snake.
Corn snakes eat only meat, usually small rodents, and birds. As pets, the most common food they should eat in captivity are mice, which are no more than 1.5 times the size of the snake’s body at mid-length, and they should be fed every 7 – 10 days.
Read on for more details about feeding corn snakes.
Corn Snake Diet
Corn snakes are strict carnivores, meaning they only eat meats and proteins.
The corn snake in the wild has a diet consisting of almost exclusively small rodents and birds.
In captivity, we want the same thing.
For corn snakes, this means small rodents like mice.
But you don’t have to go hunting for it yourself.
There are many pet stores and online suppliers available to take care of this for you.
With baby corn snakes, you want to look for pinkie mice.
These aren’t a special breed of mouse at all, but pinkie mice are baby, hairless mice.
Their small size and lack of mobility make them perfect for the baby corn snake.
Corn snakes should only eat food smaller than its girth or width at mid-length.
For babies, this is tough, but pinkie mice will fit the bill nicely.
Live pinkie mice aren’t very mobile.
This makes them easier to hunt for the young snakes, and it avoids injury.
For all corn snakes, you never want to leave live prey in the tank because they may bite back as they’re hunted.
With pinkies, you won’t have this problem.
Mice are usually fed to a corn snake in live form or frozen and the fully thawed form.
While baby corn snakes can eat frozen and thawed pinkies, they’re less likely to.
The baby corn snake is very instinct-driven, and its instinct isn’t to eat food already dead.
It wants to eat something live.
So, the baby corn snake diet consists of pinkie mice (live preferably) fed once every 5 – 7 days.
Read more about how often to feed corn snakes.
Feeding A Corn Snake
This section tells you step-by-step how to feed a corn snake.
It also applies to feeding baby corn snakes.
Baby corn snakes are fed after their first prenatal shed.
Many will eat right away, but sometimes they wait for a little while.
Follow these steps to feed a corn snake.
#1 Choose The Right Prey
As we mentioned in the section above, the best choice for corn snakes is mice.
Make sure they’re smaller than the corn snake’s width at mid-length.
For baby corn snakes, use pinkie mice.
If you’re worried about even a newborn pinky mouse size, use a baby spiny mouse or a baby pygmy mouse.
Live is better than frozen and thawed, but make do with this if it’s all you have.
#2 Place The Mouse In Front Of The Corn Snake
Take the mouse and put it right in front of the corn snake.
Watch to see if the corn snake notices the mouse.
If you see the snake notice and watch the mouse, keep your hands back.
Corn snakes have a hard time telling the difference between prey and fingers.
Most adult corn snakes will strike the mouse right away and begin to swallow it.
For those whose snakes do this easily, skip to step #5.
You don’t ordinarily need to feed the corn snake by hand as you do with other reptiles.
These keen carnivores prefer to hunt themselves whenever they can.
If your corn snake seems uninterested, you need to move to step #3.
#3 “Brain” The Corn Snake
When your corn snake isn’t interested in your mouse, what’s happening is the snake’s natural hunting instincts haven’t been triggered yet.
So we need to help those instincts along.
While it may seem gross, one almost-foolproof way to get a snake’s attention is to brain the mouse.
In other words, use a knife to cut into the skull of the mouse and squeeze.
This is done so some brain matter comes out of the cut or nose.
Another way is to cut the mouse in half, so the corn snake won’t have to eat the whole thing in one bite.
The smell and sight of the insides work wonders for triggering the hunting and eating instincts.
#4 Tease The Corn Snake
If braining is too gross or it’s still not pleasing, perhaps tease the corn snake.
When you tease the snake, you take half of the mouse and tap it to the nose of the corn snake.
You may want to do this while holding the snake, so you have more control over its movement.
Once the snake strikes put it down in the tank and let it enjoy its meal.
#5 Remove The Prey Remains
Once your snake has ingested its meal, go in a clean up any remains.
There aren’t usually too many with snakes, but it’s still a good idea to check.
#6 Repeat Every 5 – 7 Days
Now you repeat the process every 5 – 7 days.
Adjust the size of the mouse to match the width of the corn snake.
When it can eat adult mice, you may want to switch to feeding every 7 – 10 days.
Don’t ever feed a corn snake within 24 hours of feeding.
It won’t have had time to digest its last meal.
We hope you enjoyed learning how to feed a corn snake.
It can be tricky, but if you choose the right size of mouse and take care not to feed it too often, it’ll all be just fine.
Look for mice smaller than their width at mid-length.
Babies can eat every 5 – 7 days, while adults should wait every 7 – 10 days.
Follow these guidelines, and your cute reptile will be just fine.