Introduction: Snake Care (non-venomous)

Picture of Snake Care (non-venomous)

Basic Guide to care for non-venomous snakes and other reptiles/amphibians.
I have a 4 year old Corn Snake[] (sub-species Bloodred Cornsnake (Pantherophis Elaphe g. guttata)) , she is 4 feet long and almost full grown. She eats mice i buy from a local pet store. On a day by day basis snakes require little care just making sure they have clean water. on a monthly basis they need one to two days spending 30-60 minutes (Aka Feeding-cleaning)

Step 1: How to Get a Snake

Picture of How to Get a Snake

First you want to start by thinking if you have the time and money for reptiles and amphibians. you need to know they live up to 30 years.
Most of the cost will bit up front most costly things being:
the snake (or other reptile/amphibian)
the cage
On a Bi-monthly basis you will need to buy:
Distilled water
Food (aka Mice)
Bedding (depending on size of bag/size of cage you may only need to buy bedding 1-4 times a year)

There are a few different ways to get a snake: Pet store; Animal shelter; snake breeder.
There are other ways to acquire a snake. I got mine free from a local volunteering group, i have been helping for years and when one of the snakes we use to educate people laid eggs i got one (adding 15 babies snakes to a family of 10 is just insanity so most of the volunteers got one for free)

I strongly recommend getting a Corn snake or Ball python if your beginning. Both are easy to care for, common, docile, and non aggressive (and non-venomous). Ball pythons grow up to 4-6 feet long and get VARY heavy so a Corn would be better for smaller children. Just to clarify these are not the snakes that you hear in the news, starting small and growing to 20 feet, eating dogs cats and people.
Ball pythons will need larger food than snakes ( Rats v.s Mice). They are native to the Pakistani area but it is vary common to see baby snakes in pet stores for $80-150.
Corn snakes grow 3-5 feet long are faster than ball pythons eat slightly smaller food (mice V.s rats) need less space and are native to US. They are not as common in pet stores but should be easy to find from a breeder $50-150.

Step 2: Cage Set Up

Picture of Cage Set Up

Basic Cage:
20-50galon aquariums/terrarium (i have a 50 used to house a tree frog (died at age of 7))
water bowl: docent need to be large
hiding place: small, warm, dark space.
bedding: Fill cage with about one inch of natural bark.
heating element: Do not use Hot rocks. Use a undertank heating pad.

Most snakes must be kept at 75-95f (Corn snakes 75-85 F).Reptiles are cold blooded they need higher temperatures to digest food. .
Dont ever use hot rocks. They are unreliable and can get way to hot; hot enough to cause burns.

Step 3: Cleaning Cage

Picture of Cleaning Cage

Remove water bowl/hiding place.
If you are just cleaning out "solid waist" (reptile urine is also solid appears white) just use a scoop or gloved hands an remove all traces.

If you are changing Bedding move all bedding to one corner and scoop into trash bag. (change bedding entirely twice a year minimum.) Its not a bad idea to use a shop vac to get out every thing but its not needed. Replace bedding by equally spreading 1" deep in cage. Some brands need pre washing in water or rinsing.

Try to clean the cage (scooping out waist once a week) and clean the water bowl at least every 2 weeks.

Step 4: Water Bowl Cleaning

Picture of Water Bowl Cleaning

To clean most water bowls:
Remove from cage and wipe off any debris
Using hot water soak bowl in luke warm water for 1-5 minutes
Drain and scrub dish with rag
Fill sink with hot water again this time add 2-3 table spoons of Listerine.
Listerine is much safe than bleach as long as it is completely rinsed off.
Rinse and dry bowl.
Replace bowl in cage and fill with distilled water

Step 5: Feeding

Picture of Feeding

Here im just posting how/where to get mice im hoping to finish my snake feeding instructable in addition to my up coming instructable there is also i pod guy's instructable on feeding snakes with C02

Your options: Get live mice. Get frozen mice.
frozen mice are safer and more humane (mice are killed by flash freezing they die instantly and "feel no pain")
I also strongly recommend having a second smaller cage for feeding snake i used a left over 15 gallon aquarium no bedding or water or hiding places are needed in feeding cage.

live mice can be obtained from most pet stores, pet smart disapproves the use of there mice for feeding, they claim it is in humane. I call it the circle of life but i still feed frozen mice for 3 main reasons:
1.Large prey can injure or even kill a snake
2.Keeping live mice cost money dont need to watch a living animal suffocate
One down side to frozen mice is they must stay frozen (until you actually feed the snake) this means storing in freezer
Just to clarify you need to reheat the mice to there living body temperature. This is vary important when you are feeding ball pythons and other snakes with heat sensing pits in there snout.

great info

Step 6: Snake Injuries

Picture of Snake Injuries

Some common snake injuries are:
Broken ribs-nothing can be done must heal on there own-unless you want to spend $1,000 on a full body cast. (half of that is a joke but yeah it cost a lot for any vet visit )

Chafing- most commonly from rubbing noes on top of cage- not to much to do to treat most likely the snake is hungry and looking for food. Help healing and fight infection by treating with repti wound healing aid. (im 50% sure there is a term for this but i don not remember it)

lack of hunger-could be caused by sickness, breading season, anorexia from stress. Your options are limited; taking snake to vet cost a lot of money, doing nothing starves snake, force feeding is dangerous. Try Different food source, live food instead of frozen.

My snake had a Chafing problem-treated and cured with the Healing Aid
My snake also went for almost 2 months with out food. We took the snake to the vet and said "your snake is one of the healthiest snakes we have seen in a long time" most likely cause: mating season. After a 2 months my snake started eating again.

off the top of my mind this is all i can remember comment if you have any questions problems or other ailments

Step 7: Snake Sexing- Is It a Boy or a Girl

Picture of Snake Sexing- Is It a Boy or a Girl
There are three ways to tell
1:Probing, sticking small rod into Cloaca (butt hole) towards tail. if it dosent go in its a female if it dose its a male i do not recommend you try this unless your trained- and this is not training
2:look at tail (i cant competently explain this so look at pictures)
3."popping" watch video for demo on male snake. moderately dangerous i dont recommend
watch this (its not me)

Great link

Step 8: Shedding

Picture of Shedding

As snakes grow there old skin becomes tight, when it get to tight they start to rub against any rough edge in enclosure. An adult snake sheds its skin 1-4 times year a baby snake can shed monthly during the first year of life.
Snakes eyes become cloudy when they are about to shed, as the scales over the eyes prepare to fall off. You should not need to assist your snake in shedding, just remove the skin when you see it.

Step 9: SNAKE BITES (non-venomous)

Picture of SNAKE BITES (non-venomous)

There are few situations where corn snakes will bite you (wild snakes will bite).
I have been bitten twice by my snake once when i put my hand in cage after feeding to remove snake and she saw a mouse (aka my hand). The second time i was sitting on sofa and a loud noise startled the snake it felt threatened and bite my arm. Nether time i felt any pain (there teeth are like little needles) its way more of a shock than any thing else.What to do immediately wash with soap and water. Use antiseptic/disinfectant and a bandage if you get an infection see a doctor. Theres not that much more risk of any long term ailments V.s an ordinary scratch. "The worst part about bites from small snakes is usually that brief moment of complete startlement that gets your adrenalin up rather than the bite itself."

Step 10: In Closing

Picture of In Closing

This instructable is a general over view of snakes care if you have questions, comments, answers, suggestions; Please let me know.
I will add more steps and detail based on what people want and need to know so i need your input to finish this instructable!
Great links
Corn snake Care
Ball python
General Care

this is for the contest to please vote it you likecontest page


nytowl520 (author)2017-07-31

Please correct the typos where you used the word 'waist' (where your pants get buttoned) rather than the correct "waste." It would make you seem much more like your advice is trustworthy. ?

IndigoOnion (author)2016-05-31

I used to have two baby cornsnakes, but them some chemicals spilled and they died

DaveB142 (author)2016-04-23

Ball pythons are native to sub Saharan Africa not Pakistan

S3Z (author)2015-07-23

My little corn :)

russell.monroe.bradley1 (author)2015-04-26

I have like 8-10 snakes 3 types one is the ringneck snake and another is rought earth snakes and 2 of one king I don't know what it is I kinda looks like a rattle snake but no rattles if I post a pic of the can someone help me out in scared it could be venomous and I have a 4year old daughter and a son on the way.the snake will strike at me all most evey time I get close when feeding or just caring for cage or something the bigger one I got is always calm same kind of snake I don't get this one

Phoenix Flare (author)2014-07-09

Snakes are venomous, not poisonous.

Phoenix Flare (author)2014-07-09

So cute! I love snakes! Especially Albino Pythons!

MohawkMarine (author)2013-07-31

I have a red tailed boa. First snake as a pet but I have handled many snakes even poisonous ones. I will be making an ible on making her new cage. She is getting big. Lol

freeza36 (author)2012-03-28

I have a Miami Cornsnake

freeza36 (author)2011-12-24

please do not attempt "popping." It can seriously injure or kill the snake. As for probing, leave it to the professionals, as it can damage the snakes hemipenis.

Mutantflame (author)2011-08-23

I have been keeping corn and rat snakes for a few years now, and I was wondering why you were so specific that distilled water must be used. I usually just use tap water and there have never been any problems with mould or anything.


jhonny (author)2009-10-30

can u tell me anything to feed to a gopher snake?

iknomoren00b (author)jhonny2010-09-16

depending on the size of your snake, it could be pinkys, hoppers, mice or rats

kakashi_sensei (author)2009-09-20

Cool. I have two snakes, a ball python and a Pueblan milk snake. By far one of the coolest pets you can have.

ZeRoBurrito (author)2009-07-16

where did you get the big o bag of mice

petsmart, petco, just pets most pet stores sell frozen/live mice

grundisimo (author)2009-07-11

yes actually i can read this

The Fishfrog (author)2009-06-27

i love all reptiles but my love is in the lizard kind. i love your snakes but wat really annoys me is that people say that snakes are poisonous........ it drives me up the wall!!!!!!!!!

Yeah that grinds my gears too. The worst is when people ask if my snake is poisonous.

i know how u feel.....

Demon5magic (author)2009-06-27

Oh my god your snake is beutifull! I Have two corns, one about a year old, another about 4 or 5. Rock on Corn lovers!

RedneckAsian (author)2009-02-18

corn snakes have two penises!?!?!?!?!?!?

not just cornsnakes most reptiles/amphibians do

i m 0 s (author)2008-11-28

hey geeklord did you find it Australia

i m 0 s (author)2008-11-28

any one got a snake here

morphine (author)2008-11-14

Actually, you might want to look into that distilled water bit - everything I've ever read regarding keeping cornsnakes says that bottled, not distilled water is best. Definitely not tap water.

as long as it dose not have chlorine or other additives water is water

geeklord (author)2008-10-05

my friend was diggin through some mulchy dirt mixture today on a river bank and came a cross a little snake. Its maybe 8 or ten inches long, maybe a little thicker than a pencil, and has a red belly. I've found one of these little guys before on the shore of a lake. I think it is a red-bellied snake but im not completely sure. Any idea what it is? And maybe what it eats.....

not really. A baby water snake. what state do you live in?


then im not the person to ask. i know the east coast snakes sorry

Tarantulady (author)2008-09-09

Beautiful babies! n_n Looks like there are some caramel ones in there, too!

Tarantulady (author)2008-09-09

You should probably add that a person should never attempt to pull off a biting snake, as this could cause the snake's teeth to easily break off. Your corn snake may not hurt, but a full grown ball python can really mess you up and give you a heck of a serious infection.

Tarantulady (author)2008-09-09

I would also recommend you list that anorexia can be caused by over or under heating the animal. The temperatures and humidity vary greatly between different species of snake. What keeps one alive could very well kill another. Chafing can also be caused by mites, improper humidity, etc. The nose rubbing thing is normally a sign that something is being done wrong :(

clshaifer (author)2008-08-16

Love your posts, but have trouble with the explanation of why your snake bite you the second time. Snakes are deaf. So the loud noise, unless it had a very large amount of vibration should not have affected the snake. Unless the loud noise made you move suddenly. Keep up the posts. I really enjoy them and like to hear other's views on reptiles.

laminterious (author)2008-04-30

Umm.. that last pic of the babies is a bit disturbing.... there is a snake that is cut/tore in half down at the bottom right.. why?

ohh. not to worry. the bedding in that cage is paper towels its just simple snuggled between two layers of paper towels.

F1X0R (author)2008-04-05

my little corn is hiding away, where its nice and warm for him. the imaginatively named squirm! he's a amenalistic, really lovely looking, snakes rule! I've always either used tap/filter water. The reptile /exotic animal rescue center (where i got my then baby corn from) about a mile away from me have cared for an alligator, called big boy who was in a James Bond film who passed away at 40, and currently a Caiman Croc, "Collin" several Burmese Pythons, royals, king snakes, turtles, terrapins, tortioses, a marmoset monkey, a few iguanas, bearded dragons, and a load more, normally use tap water, and one of the people there is a very experienced reptile vet.

Notbob (author)2008-03-05

My friend has gorgeous corn snake that does not like its thermometer. I was at his house when suddenly we heard this thud/whack noise and saw the thermometer tip (the kind that the tip is attached to the side via a suction cup, except his was hanging) swinging back and forth. His snake looked rather annoyed.

Aar000n3y (author)2008-03-01

Good instructable. I wanted to get a snake a while ago, but I got a gecko instead. Although I've heard that it's okay to give a snake regular tap water. Some people think that the chemicals in tap water is bad for them, but others don't think it's that big of a deal. With my gecko (I don't think there are too many differences between them and snakes with what they drink), I've never used distilled water and never had a problem. I have little experience, but that's just what I've heard.

Dont use tap water. The chlorine and fluoride in water messes with general heath, in the undisturbed wild there bodies would not encounter these sorts of chemicals.

Chlorine is especially drying to the skin even if not "consumed".

Humans didn't drink those chemicals in the wild either.

jeffconnelly (author)Aar000n3y2008-03-02

VERY good point!

brandon borick (author)2008-03-01

iv raised many reptials corn snake radel snake skinks bearded dragon alligator lizard you don't need distilled water you can use filter water

Staples (author)brandon borick2008-03-03

I've used filter and tap water for over four years with my four snakes. I've heard both way, 90% of the time mine only use theirs for soaking.

Staples (author)Staples2008-03-03

Oh and change the water every 7 to 10 days, it will start to get funky when they get bedding and feces in it. A good cheap bedding is a big chuck of aspen shavings from a pet store or old news paper (never use cedar it's oil can kill). Also don't reheat your mice or rats in the microwave, just thaw them in warm water. I've met a few people that have blow them up that way. I usually leave the food in their habitat overnight and if they don't eat it just refreeze it and try again a week later. After about the 3rd to 4th reheat it will start to get funky and you can toss it. Some snakes like the stronger smell of a 2nd heating and will be more likely to eat. If you purchase from a pet store ask if they're feeding or if they've just hatched and aren't eating yet. I know a few people that have purchased ball hatchlings that wouldn't eat and couldn't assist feed and lost their pets. Another good mention is making a heat gradient in their habitat. One end needs to be cool and one end warm. Snakes will self thermo regulate by moving between the two ends, just make sure and find the recommended temperature and humidity for you species and keep their habitat in that range. You can raise their humidity by misting with warm water. You can buy some stick on temperature and humidity gauges at the pet store. Shedding: Start misting the snake more with warm water when their eyes clear up after hazing over, it helps them shed easier and check them after they shed. Sometimes their eye caps don't come off or the shed will break up and pieces will stay on them. Some have had sheds so bad (My Hog island boa) we've had to put him in a ventilated water bowl with only about a 1" of air at the top to get all their shed off : ( My babies: Adult (6'5") Common Columbian boa, Adult Hog Island boa, sub adult ball python, sub adult leucistic rat snake and four tarantulas. My wife and I spend a good chunk of time each week on feeding and habitat care.

Sergeant Crayon (author)2008-03-01

Seems you've done your homework! Good job, however I would like to specify to those who wish to get a reptile of any sorts: The author truthfully said that the require little care, however no reptile is "low maintenance". Make sure you know what you are doing BEFORE buying the animal, do your homework first! That aside, beautiful snake! Although, if the snake is four feet, the enclosure seems a little boring for that size. (No offense, just my opinion.) Also: I may suggest deepening the substrate a little, it's hard to tell from the photo, but it seems a little shallow. Sorry for being so picky, it is a excellent instructable!

yeah, its hard to find cheep decorative things that dont mold, rot, clean easily, or are come full of ticks and mites.

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