What Do You Need For A Corn Snake?

Are you interested in getting a corn snake but not sure what you’ll need?

Do you want to make sure you have all you need to care for this new pet?

Corn snakes are one of the most popular snakes to keep as pets because of their calm nature and hearty health.

But you still need to provide for this pet for it to live to its full potential.

You may wonder:

What do you need for a corn snake?

To keep a corn snake as a pet, you need to have a correct habitat setup with a tank, proper lighting, and heating, substrate, hide spots, and a water bowl. You also need the appropriate-sized food for the snake. Usually, pre-killed or live mice of various sizes depending on the size of the snake.

Read on for more details on what you need to care for a corn snake.

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What Do I Need For A Corn Snake?

There are two main areas you need to be aware of in caring for a corn snake: habitat and diet.

In this section, we’ll offer some advice on the things you need for each area.


In the habitat, it is best to match the natural environment as much as possible.

With this in mind, we should set up the tanks with the following considerations. 

A corn snake’s habitat needs to include these six things:

  • Tank/Cage
  • Substrate/Bedding
  • Heating
  • Lighting
  • Hides/Furniture
  • Water bowl

Check out our detailed guide on how to set up a corn snake tank.


Tanks can either be glass or plastic.

Glass is better for seeing through, though plastic is more durable.

Ultimately, it’s up to you.

Just make sure you have enough space; they’ll need at least 20 gallons, though 40 would be better.

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Substrate is one of the critical items in a corn snake tank.

They need a good one to slither around on and possibly burrow in.

On top of this, having a good substrate can make it easier for you to clean up their waste.

There are different types of bedding to use which range from some following:

  • Newspaper
  • Cypress mulch
  • Aspen shavings
  • Reptile Carpet

However, not all wood and substrates work.

Avoid these:

  • Cedar shavings
  • Pine shavings
  • Aquarium gravel
  • Any product from a hardware store


Corn snakes need an outside source of heat.

In the wild, they absorb heat from the sun,

You don’t have this in captivity, so you need to use a heat lamp, heating pad, or both.

Fortunately, corn snakes come from a mild climate and only need to reach 75° – 85° degrees Fahrenheit (24° – 29° C) during the day.

At night, turn the heater off.

This lets the temperature drop and reinforces the corn snake’s natural day-night cycle.


Many lizards need UVB to survive, but corn snakes aren’t lizards.

They can do just fine without.

But exposure to UVB certainly won’t hurt.

Getting the extra Vitamin D helps them absorb calcium better.

So, if it doesn’t hurt and helps, why not just use a UVB bulb for lighting?

There’s no reason not to, so go ahead and pick one up.

You’ll want to leave whatever light you’re using on during the day, just like the heater.

At night, you’ll want to turn it off.


Put the heater and lights on a timer, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn it on.


In nature, corn snakes hide a lot.

It’s their natural form of protection, and these instincts stay strong in captivity.

In the tank, you want to give them some furniture to hide in.

Things like rocks, logs, plants, and other types of reptile furniture will do just fine.

You also need to get a hide box.

Fill it up with a good burrowing substrate like cypress mulch for the corn snake to hide in.

Make your hide box, or buy one like this one from Pangea.

Pangea Reptile Hide Box (F- X-Large)
  • Perfect for terrestrial reptiles: This hide box is the perfect addition to your terrestrial reptile’s enclosure! It is ideal for snakes and terrestrial geckos! Door placement is offset to really give your pet a sense of security which aids in reducing stress in captive reptiles.
  • Cost-effective: These hides are the perfect addition to your enclosure at an affordable cost unlike competitors’ hides which are much more expensive.
  • Durable: These reptile hide boxes are made of heavy 1/8" thick plastic and can withstand just about anything! Whether your pet is going inside of it or climbing on top of it, it will withstand the weight of your reptile.
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Water Bowl

You also need to have a water bowl.

The snake gets water through soaking and drinking from this water.

This water bowl will also help keep the humidity at the required 4% – 50% relative humidity.

If you don’t, the snake could have shedding and skin problems later on.

The bowl should have low enough sides for the corn snake to get into and over.

The water level should only be just deep enough for the snake to get its whole body into.


Corn snakes are strict carnivores and feed mainly on rodents and small birds.

In captivity, they eat mice almost exclusively.

Check out what a corn snake can eat.

Feeding them isn’t tricky as long as you get the right size of mice.

Read more on how to feed a corn snake.

Corn snakes only need to eat every 7-10 days as adults and 5-7 days as babies.

They’ll usually only eat one mouse for each meal.

The general rule of thumb for prey size is this: the prey should be no more than 1.5 times the size of the snake’s girth at mid-length.

If you’re unsure what this means, snakes are fed in this order as they get older.

You should move up when the snake is the same size as the next step:

  • 1 pinkie mouse
  • 2 pinkie mice
  • 1 fuzzy mouse
  • 1 small hopper mouse
  • 1 medium but weaned mouse
  • 1 adult mouse
  • 1 jumbo adult mouse/weaned rat*

*Not all corn snakes reach the size where they can eat this.

It’s hard to give hard and fast length or age guidelines for diet.

It largely depends on their girth.


Never feed a snake within 24 hours of its last meal.


We hope you enjoyed learning about what you need to care for a corn snake.

Having these things on hand will be a big help in making sure everything is set up for your corn snake.

By getting these items in order, you’re showing you’re a dedicated owner for these oddly cute pets.

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