How To Set Up A Corn Snake Tank

Are you confused about getting your pet corn snake’s habitat set up just right?

Do you want to make sure you do one of the critical things to help your pet live a healthy life?

The correct habitat setup is essential for reptiles in captivity.

Unfortunately, it’s also one of the things people mess up the most often.

This is why you need to know how to set up a corn snake tank.

But this is why we’re here to help.

We know how important it is to get tanks just right.

Read on for more information on what you’ll need and step by step instructions.

What You’ll Need

In this section, we’ll briefly go over the items you’ll need to set up a corn snake tank.

There are many options available in these categories.

We’ll link to some of our top picks in each section.

Be careful not to sacrifice quality for lower pricing.

Reptiles such as the corn snake need the correct habitat items, and you don’t want to endanger them just to save a few bucks.


Corn snakes need at least a 20 gallon tank, although 40 gallon ones are recommended for the larger ones.

To be safe, you should get a 40 gallon tank if you have the space and funds.

Choose from glass or plastic tanks.

Each works well, but glass tends to be the best.

This Repti Zoo 40 gallon tank works very well.

REPTI ZOO Reptile Glass Terrarium
  • [Patent Design] Size of RK0119 :36" x 18" x 18"(Only include the mesh sides,not include the glass sides). Tough screen top provides ventilation and allows uvb and infrared penetration
  • Raised bottom frame in order to fit a substrate heater; Waterproof bottom makes this tank can be used both as desert terrarium and rainforest tank
  • Front doors can open separately, easy to feed your pet and prevent escape
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Just make sure the gallon size is enough.


For lighting, the corn snake needs a clear day-night cycle.

For this, just use a simple fluorescent bulb.

Corn snakes aren’t like lizards who require UVB.

Corn snakes will be just fine without it.

But, the UVB can help them be just a little healthier, and it won’t hurt anything.

So we recommend just getting a UVB bulb such as this one by Lucky Herp.

LUCKY HERP 10.0 Fluorescent Desert Terrarium Lamp,T8,15 Watt 18 Inches
  • Ideal for all desert dwelling reptiles & amphibians
  • Optimal UVB & UVA output,no harmful UVC output
  • Simulates appetite, activity and reproductive behavior
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

To give a consistent day-night cycle, just turn the light off when you go to bed and back on when you get up.

If you’re afraid you’ll forget, link the light (and heater) up to a timer switch.

Then you just need to set it and go on with your day without worrying about this part of your snake’s tank. 


Corn snakes have more general temperature guidelines than other picky reptiles.

Because these snakes reside in the temperate regions of the United States, they can survive well with a range of temps.

Still, for consistency’s sake, you should aim for a warm side of 85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C) and a cool side of 75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C) during the day.

At night, just turn the heater off and let the tank cool down naturally.

There are two main types of heaters to choose from: a heating lamp and a heating pad.

Heating lamps, like the Zacro heat lamp, just hang from the top of the tank on one side.

They heat the whole tank from this one side.

Heating pads, like the Zacro reptile heating pad, go under the substrate and heat from below.

Zacro Reptile Heat Pad
  • Durable material: made of high quality PVC material, its soft surface can be flexible and folded.The heat mat is easy to clean, convenient to use and low energy.
  • Powerful function: Helps reptile for daily activity, appetite and metabolism.It can keep reptile tank warm without any harm to your pets and also won't disturb animals sleep pattern.
  • High efficiency: High-quality heating wire heating, stable performance and long service life.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

This type heats the whole tank more evenly.

What should you use?

Use both if your tank is large or your house is cold.

Use the heating lamp if the tank is smaller and your home is warm.


So how do you know what the temp is in the tank?

You need a thermometer.

We recommend one which just sticks on to the side, look at it and move on with your day.

The Exo Terra Thermometer does the job for a low price.


Corn snakes need a humid environment.

If the tank gets too dry, they begin to suffer from skin problems.

They need 40% – 50% relative humidity.

This is easy to reach, but you still need to have a way to check it.

This is what hygrometers are for.

Like thermometers, purchase a simple one and just leave it alone.

Or you could get a thermometer and hygrometer combo like the BALDR thermo square.


There are several types of bedding to choose from, including simple newspaper.

But nicer substrate is gentler on your pet’s belly and easier to clean up after droppings.

Choose from most shavings including Living World aspen shavings, but you should avoid these:

Living World Wood Aspen Shavings, 2500-Cubic Inch
  • The shavings are hypoallergenic and are the ideal choice when there is concern that small pets may have respiratory sensitivities
  • Highly-absorbent aspen shavings can absorb up to four times its weight in moisture
  • Ideal bedding material for small pets such as hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, and chinchillas
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
  • Cedar
  • Pine
  • Aquarium gravel

NEVER use mulch, chips, or shavings bought from a hardware store.

These may have chemicals in them; buy from a pet store or online pet store product.


In nature, corn snakes need to hide to protect themselves.

So in captivity, we should provide places for them to hide.

Their instincts will tell them to hide, and not having a place may stress them out.

Use rocks, logs, and other pieces of reptile furniture.

We recommend having at least three pieces of furniture in the tank (more is better).

One of the items needs to be a solid hide box such as this Pangea Hide Box or this Exo Terra Snake Cave

Exo Terra Snake Cave, Small
  • Perfect nesting site for various species of snakes and lizards
  • Provides a secure hiding place
  • Prevents stress
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Water bowl

Finally, you need a shallow water bowl.

The bowl should be filled with clean water and be just big enough to let it soak its body.

The water is suitable for drinking, bathing, and keeping the humidity at the right percentage.

You don’t need a fancy one for this, just find a good-sized container from home.

Step By Step Instructions On How To Set Up A Corn Snake Tank

how to set up a corn snake tank

In this section, we’ll go through the instructions on how to set up a corn snake tank.

While corn snakes are pretty forgiving if the tank isn’t set up exactly right, you still want to follow the directions to give your pet the best chance it has a long and happy life.

#1 Gather Materials

The first thing you need to do is to collect the materials outlined above.

Get most of these from any pet store just fine, but you may be losing money.

There are often sales online if you checked for these products before heading to the store.

Make sure you have the following items before moving on:

  • Tank (at least 20 gallons, 40 is better)
  • Light
  • Heating Lamp/Heating pad
  • Thermometer
  • Hygrometer
  • Substrate
  • Three pieces of furniture (including one hide box)
  • Water bowl

Once you’ve got what you need, move on to the next step.

#2 Pick A Good Spot

Next, you need to scope out where you plan on putting the corn snake’s tank.

It’s not as simple as finding a place just to put it; there are some factors you may want to consider.

Foot traffic

You’ll want to pick a spot where there isn’t a constant flow of foot traffic from people walking by.

Corn snakes are pretty mild, but if you have people walking by and being loud constantly, it may get stressed out.

You don’t need to hide it away where nothing happens.

They could get bored.

Aim for the middle road.


Temperature isn’t a massive concern with corn snakes, but you still don’t want the tank to get overly warm or cool.

Keep it in the magic 75° degrees Fahrenheit – 85° degrees Fahrenheit (24° – 29° C) range.

No heating lamp can battle against a room or spot, which is quite cold such as a garage or basement.

You want the room temperature where you put your tank to be stable.

Also, be careful of the windows.

In winter, they may make your tank too cold, and in summer, the sun could overheat your snake as the heat gets trapped in the tank.


You also need to make sure the tank is in a safe place.

If you’re putting the tank up on something, put it somewhere where the large tank is entirely on the shelf or desk.

Also, watch out for those high traffic areas such as near doors or dressers.

You and others will be moving by their often, and you don’t want to bump the tank off accidentally.

You could also put the tank on the ground, but then you also need to watch for things falling off nearby shelves.

Look for a secure spot away from things which may damage the tank.

Closeness to other pets

Corn snakes are used to other animals, but if you have a cat or the like, you don’t want the animal harassing the snake.

Corn snakes naturally hide anyway, but if it never leaves its hiding spots, your pet isn’t going to get the exercise it needs.


The most common health problem with corn snakes is skin conditions as a result of the humidity too low.

This is easily avoided.

But if you accidentally put your corn snake’s tank near a heater or air conditioner vent, the air can dry out quickly.

Keep all of these factors in mind to find the best spot for the tank.

#3 Install/Set Up Lights And Heat

Now, you’ve put the tank down in the perfect spot.

It’s time to start setting up the tank itself.

If the tank has pre-installed fluorescent lighting, just insert the bulb (hopefully UVB, if you followed our list).

For those who have a heating lamp, clip it on to one side of the tank following the specific lamp’s instructions and plug it into the outlet.

You don’t want to put it in the middle because then you won’t get a warm and cool side.


You may want to use a power strip.

If you are also using a heating pad, lay this down on the floor of the tank and connect it to power.

Make sure the pad is flat, and the controls are easily accessible.

#4 Attach Thermometers And Hygrometers

Now, place your thermometer and hygrometers in the tank.

If you only have one, just put it in the middle of the tank.

For those who have more, place one under the heating lamp, and one on the other side, to get a better picture of the temp throughout the tank.

#5 Add Substrate

After the tech parts have been installed, you now need to add substrate.

It’s essential to do this step before you add furniture, water, or the snake itself.

If you’re using newspaper or reptile carpet, just lay it down over the whole bottom of the enclosure.

For those using a more natural substrate, you should aim for 1″ – 2″ of coverage.

This will give the corn snake plenty to slide through but also burrow itself to cool down or hide.

#6 Add Furniture

Now you need to add the furniture.

If you followed our advice, you have at least three pieces of furniture, including a hide box.

Place the items around the tank, making sure to have some under the heating lamp, and some on the other side, as well.

Remember, variety is better, so more pieces of furniture would be ideal.


If you decide to use live plants in the tank (which is good), make sure you use UVB light.

The hide box should be either on the cool side or the middle of the tank, not on the warm side.

To make the hide box the best, put a quality, loose substrate such as cypress mulch in the hide box.

#7 Insert Water Bowl

Next, you need to add the water bowl.

Remember, the bowl should be low enough the snake can get in and drink as well as soak as it wishes.

You may want to keep the water dish out of the warm area and away from the furniture.

Consider the water bowl as a piece of furniture itself.

#8 Introduce Corn Snake To Its New Home

Finally, it’s time to introduce the corn snake to its new home.

Corn snakes tend to move around a lot, so they won’t panic as much as some other reptiles when in a new environment.

Don’t be surprised if the corn snake hides right away for a while.

This isn’t so much about the tank as it is about the act of moving itself.


Heat the tank before you put your pet in, and it will be more comfortable right away.

Don’t feed it the instant you put it in; give it some time to get used to it.


You have now set up your corn snake tank.

Check out this video if you still have more questions.

Corn Snake Tank Set Up

Corn Snake Tank Set Up

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we’ll look at some common related questions to the corn snake tank setup.

What can I put in my corn snake’s tank?

For substrate, newspaper, aspen, cypress, reptile carpet, and coconut shavings work well.

For furniture, rocks, logs, plants, and hide boxes are ideal.

Do corn snakes need a heat lamp?

Yes and no.

If the corn snake’s tank is between 75° degrees Fahrenheit – 85° degrees Fahrenheit (24° – 29° C) during the day, you technically don’t need it.

Or if you use a heating pad to get the temperature there, you don’t need an additional heating lamp.

Corn snakes don’t need basking spots, and UVB like some other reptiles do.

Do corn snakes like to burrow?

Yes, corn snakes love to burrow.

It’s part of their natural hiding instincts, and it also helps them to cool down when they get too hot.

This is why the ideal substrate is something loose such as aspen shavings.

This is also why you need a hide box filled with a loose substrate, such as cypress mulch.

Can you keep two corn snakes in the same tank?

As with many reptiles, it is technically possible to house two corn snakes in one tank if the space is large enough and the snakes are of similar sizes.

However, this could also result in them attacking each other.

We recommend separate tanks.

If you’re looking to breed, you’ll only need to put the two snakes in when they’re in their mating season.

Do corn snakes need a heat lamp at night?

No, corn snakes don’t need a heat lamp at night.

As cold-blooded creatures, they’re used to slowing down when the temperatures drop at night.

This is good for them to have the rest time with lower temperatures.

As some corn snakes even live in wintry areas, they are okay with cold temperatures. 

If your house doesn’t get below 60° degrees Fahrenheit (16° C) , then you’ll be just fine.


Now you know how to set up a corn snake tank.

Doing this isn’t difficult by any means, but you will need to take care you have all of the elements in place.

This is one of the things to do as an owner to set your pet up for success.

Diet and other care pieces are essential, but once the tank is in place, you don’t have to worry about it.

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