Corn snakes can make great pets. If you are new to keeping pet snakes, they may be the best possible choice for your first pet snake.
Corn snakes are calm around people. They aren’t inclined to bite, hiss, constrict, or poop under mild stress.
Corn snakes are pretty snakes. There are dozens of morphs in a variety of colors and skin patterns.
These snakes are small and easy to handle. They are no threat to children, seniors, or pets.
Because corn snakes are smaller than most other pet snakes, they are happy in smaller enclosures and eat less food.
They aren’t as fussy about what they eat as some other snakes, as long as their prey animals are the right size.
Corn snakes don’t pose a danger to people. They are easy to find in pet shops, from dealers, and at reptile expos.
They breed easily in captivity. They don’t get sick easily, and they have a lifespan of about six to eight years.
Does this sound like a snake you would want to keep?
In this article, we will review the reasons corn snakes make great pets in more detail, and then give you a few considerations for making sure a corn snake is right for you.
What Makes Corn Snakes Good Pets?
Let me go through some of the reasons that make corn snakes a good choice for any pet snake owner
Corn Snakes are Great Beginner Pets
Taking care of a corn snake isn’t complicated. These low-maintenance pets need to be fed about once every 5 to 7 days.
That may involve picking up your snake and placing it in another tank just for feeding.
This is so they won’t get in the habit of nipping at your fingers, and to prevent them from fighting with any tankmate.
You will need to hook up your snake’s heating unit to a thermostat, and there are some once-a-week and once-a-month chores related to keeping your snake’s enclosure clean.
But you never have to take your corn snake outside for fresh air and sunshine. (In fact, we recommend that you don’t.)
You never have to take your snake for a walk. Your snake will never suffer separation anxiety when you go off to work or school or you need to go away for a few days.
Corn Snakes Are Ok With Being Handled
Nobody wants a pet snake that tries to hide, releases smelly musk, or defecates, hisses, strikes, or nips at you when you try to pick it up.
With a corn snake, you won’t have to deal with any of these problem behaviors (except in some unusual situations, such as when you get between a very hungry snake and its meal).
Corn snakes may not really be cuddly, but they generally don’t mind being held.
This means you can pick them up and play with them.
You won’t have a problem separating them at feeding time, letting each snake have its turn in a private feeding cage.
You won’t have trouble getting them into a carrier on those rare occasions you need to take them to the vet.
Even better, corn snakes are safe around kids.
You will need to train children to avoid sudden movements around their pet corn snake and to approach them from the side, not from above.
But once they learn how to pick up their pet corn snake, they will be free to play with the snake, too.
Corn Snakes Don’t Smell Bad
Some snakes use stinky musk as a defense mechanism.
Garter snakes, for instance, will slime you with a smelly goo if they are anxious when you pick them up.
Some snakes have especially foul-smelling feces. Garter snakes don’t.
And many pets, like dogs and cats, can give your whole house a distinctive pets-live-here odor.
As long as you keep your snake’s enclosure clean, your corn snake won’t smell bad.
Corn Snakes Don’t Need a Big Enclosure
Corn snakes are small snakes, so they are happy living in a small terrarium.
You won’t have to spend as much money on their enclosure, substrate, hides, toys, and decorations when you are getting started.
They won’t take as much room in your house as some other snakes.
Corn Snakes are Active During the Day
Many other popular pet snakes, like ball pythons, like to hide all day and come out at night.
Children quickly lose interest in them because they are mostly active after their bedtime.
Corn snakes, on the other hand, are active during the day and rest at night.
You will have more opportunities to watch a beautiful morph when natural lighting brings out its colors.
You will have more daytime opportunities to watch it in its cage. And you don’t have to worry about disturbing your snake’s resting cycle if you pick it up during the day.
Corn Snakes Don’t Have any Special Food Requirements
Corn snakes can be happy and healthy even if the only thing you ever feed them is mice.
Young corn snakes eat the smaller pinky, fuzzy, and hopper mice, and adult corn snakes eat sub-adult and adult mice.
You never have to catch mice to feed your corn snake. You don’t have to feed your corn snake live mice.
You can train your corn snake to eat gently thawed pre-killed, frozen mice for its entire diet. It gets all the nutrients it needs by eating the whole mouse.
Corn snakes come in beautiful morphs
There are some dull-looking corn snakes, but even in the wild, there are also corn snakes in beautiful colors.
The Oketee corn snake is covered with red blotches that have a black border on a field of golden scales.
The Miami corn snake, from southeastern Florida, has red marks with black outlines on a background of silvery gray.
Breeding has created over 800 morphs of corn snakes. Amelanistic corn snakes are red and white as hatchlings, but the white fills in with bright red as the snake matures.
The albino Oketee has red blotches surrounded by white, connected with a lattice-like pattern of gold.
There are corn snakes with candy cane coloration, corn snakes with the amel gene that has every imaginable combination of red, yellow, and white.
Anery corn snakes have brown patterns on a background of bright yellow. There is even a “Christmas corn” with striking red scales and a “lava corn” that is bright gold.
There are corn snakes in brown and lavender and a corn snake that looks like it has freckles.
There are corn snakes with banded patterns, zipper patterns, and zig-zag patterns.
You will never get bored collecting corn snakes. If you breed corn snakes, you could even create a new morph of your own!
Now let’s consider a few characteristics of corn snakes that may make you think twice about getting one.
Corn Snakes Are Escape Artists
Corn snakes have a real talent for finding tiny spaces and squeezing through them.
Your best bet is a cage with a sliding screen on top that you keep carefully closed to keep them from getting out.
No matter what kind of enclosure you use for your corn snake, you will need to check for openings, cracks, and gaps on a regular basis.
You also need to check all the openings for ventilation and light.
Corn Snakes Aren’t Legal Everywhere
Even though corn snakes are non-venomous and they aren’t constrictors, they are illegal in a number of places, such as Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand.
The reason it is against the law to own one in these places is that they could disturb the balance of the environment if they were to escape.
There are also places where there are corn snakes in the wild, and the states want to make sure that they aren’t collected for sale as pets.
There are also corn snakes in the wild in Virginia, but the State of Virginia allows pet owners to keep up to five of them.
Here are some other state laws regarding corn snakes that were current as of April 2022:
- The Alaska Fish and Game Department only permits ownership of snakes on its “clean list.” Only captive-bred snakes can be kept as pets. You cannot keep a snake that was caught in the wild.
- California does not permit private individuals to keep wild-caught snakes, although they can be held by animal rescue organizations.
- Georgia prohibits both venomous and non-venomous snakes.
- Indiana will require you to get a permit for your snake. The pet store or reptile dealer can help you with this.
- In Maryland, you may need a permit for a native corn snake/
- It is illegal to bring a corn snake into Montana without a permit. However, once it is inside, no permit is required to keep it.
- In New York, it is illegal to possess any wild animal without a permit,
- Oklahoma requires a permit to keep a corn snake, and you may also need a Wildlife Breeder’s permit.
Your local pet shop and any reptile breeder can give you the latest information about state and local regulations that apply to owning snakes.
Usually, owning corn snakes is either completely prohibited or just requires an inexpensive permit, but it is always a good idea to check.
Don’t even think about owning a corn snake where they are illegal. In the highly unlikely event, you were sued for damages caused by an illegal pet, your homeowner’s insurance would not cover you.
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