Instructables

In this instructable, I'm going to give you an overview in what is involved in keeping your first pet snake, with particular reference to corn snakes. I am most knowledgeable about corn snakes, how ever because they quite like King snakes, and their living requirements are not dissimilar either.

I'm going to cover considerations before buying a snake, what to look for when buying your snake, housing and husbandry, feeding, and suitability as pets, and anything else that I think of as I go along. I think I shall write a bit about their origins as well.

 
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Step 1: Considerations

before you rush out and buy a snake you have to consider a few things,

can you actually get one that has been bred in captivity in the first place? I dunno, you'll have to do the leg work

do you have the space? they don't take up much room, but it is a consideration.

breeder or store? - both will be able to offer support so it is a personal choice

Do you have the money? trips to the vet will be expensive (esp with reptiles), food is really cheap as is upkeep, so it does offset the vet care aspect, its more expensive to set up than anything generally though.

will you be ok with feeding such an animal? If you are really squeamish a snake isn't going to be for you, while they are small and they eat small food you may well be able to cope, but corn's can eat quite big fully formed mice so you have to be comfortable with feeding them dead/thawed mice

where will you get food for the snake? generally if it is a store brought snake they will have food you can give it and generally it's really cheap I get 10 fuzzy mice for about £4 ($7.95/$8) and that lasts squirm about 5 weeks currently. If you get the snake from a breeder they should be able to point you in the right direction.

can you get to a reptilian vet? Your regular vet is no good, most regular vets do not have much experience with reptiles, whilst most will just admit it, some won't want to admit they are out of their depth with such an animal and "have a go." It is therefore important you know you can get to a Reptilian Specialist, although they are generally more expensive!

do you have the time? to be honest snakes won't take up much time, but it is important you can feed it regularly change water on a daily or every other day basis.

they live for a long time 15 years on average and 20 isn't uncommon for a well looked after snake. are you going to be willing to look after it for that long?

I'm not trying to put you off with this list but they are all things that you must consider and be prepared to have to deal with if/when you need to, and finding out when you need to is not the way to go!

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me and boyfriend has a corn snake and we love it ! he's like our baby and he's the cutes thing all.
F1X0R (author)  frances.washington.912 days ago
They are surprisingly cute really. A lot of people don't see it but you have to watch them for a bit I think
this is our corn snake
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F1X0R (author)  frances.washington.912 days ago

Gosh. It's been a good few years since I posted this and I can't believe that Squirm was once that size. He's now a shade under 5feet! You'll be amazed how fast corns grow.

him eating

this is my 1st corn snake so i am precarious of handling her and she has a tendency to curl up, i feed her once per week on a pinkie, two days after i have tried numerous times taking it real slow to pick her up but she backs off and bolts, even when i find her she simply curls up and buries her head between her coils, how cant i handle her if she's not willing to be handled, i put her on the bed 2 week ago and the first thing she did was disappear into a pillow, so i simply put her back in the viv i use a wheelchair so i have to wash more regularly and still she wont come any where near me, i have tried many things but still nothing, whats my best plan of attracting her to come and spend 3-5 minutes per day until she gets used to me

F1X0R (author)  max.moore.98434918 days ago

Hello there,

Firstly try not to worry too much. All animals have a slightly different personality. A lot of what you've described is fairly normal. Curling up is normal. Very young snakes do tend to be more nervous. Snakes are preyed on by birds so when it comes to picking them up just do it quickly and firmly so that they don't feel they're under attack. That may help with some of the problem.

Personally I haven't tried this but you might want to give it a go. I've heard it can help a lot with nervous snakes. Try putting a used t-shirt (one that you don't care about) in her viv with her. Let her get used to your scent. Snakes after all are really very, very good at smelling things! Once she learns yours is not a smell to be scared of then you might have a bit of an easier time.

Again if a snake is out in the open, ie on your bed, the first thing they will do every time is look for somewhere to hide. When she's in her viv, is she out in the open or under a hide or buried herself in substrate? Bet she's hidden herself, its perfectly normal.

The way you smell (with regard to washing) isn't really an issue. Snakes don't care about your personal hygiene, if anything if you shower/bathe a lot then it might actually put them off as shampoos, deodorants, body washes all have a pretty non-natural smell.

Try the T shirt trick for a couple of days first. See how it goes. When you try to pick her up just assess the best way to do it then go for it. Don't be rough but you really don't want to be taking more than one attempt or you may scare them and then that will make any handling harder.

Once you've picked them up try just holding her in her viv, its an environment that she's familiar with. If you take them out and your picking them up, might be a bit much all at once. Just try it for about 5 minutes at a go, 2 or three times a day at first. Shouldn't be too much stress. Any visible signs of stress just put her down.

Snakes aren't the most animated creatures at the best of times. in fact they rely on their state of suspended animation in order to catch their prey in a lot of instances. They wait for prey to come to them, not the other way round. That's why corn snakes used to be found hiding in native American corn cribs all the time. They have no interest in corn but rats and mice do!

In short expect them to want to hide, Try getting her more exposed to you and then go for longer handling sessions after a while. In time it'll come I don't doubt it.

bcopley19 months ago
I've not long had my carolina cornsnake but he hasn't been eating but when I got him they said he was a really good eater but for some reason he hasn't eaten for me could someone tell me why this could be ?
F1X0R (author)  bcopley118 days ago

Sorry I know this a is a long time but given around the time you posted this comment given the time of year, not uncommon at all that they go off their food. Its mating season. Eating makes them lethargic and they don't want to be lethargic during this time. You'll probably notice a pick up in their physical activity too. They tend to mellow with age where this issue goes though so try not to worry about it. Corns in general are good feeders. Some species will quite often decide not to eat for a long time for no real reason at all.

If a corn snake bites you should u be worried
Krasen10 months ago

Why are you giving him 2 mice ?

Riverfire1 year ago
Anything about wild snakes such as Queen snakes or Garter snakes?
I caught a adult queen snake and am keeping it in a medium terrarium with a little pond and grass/reed around it. It is about 2ft long and is eating well. Her name is Lily
monkey6666 years ago
since this would be my first reptile and i dont think im ready for somthing longer then a meter. what kind of snake do you think would work for me?
well if yr lik me then u should go for a rat snake
F1X0R (author)  monkey6666 years ago
Corn snakes only grow to about a meter and a half maybe 1.6 in extra-ordinary cases. The main concern is not size, as long as you have the room for the housing. What is really important is the attitude and temperament of the snake. Corn snakes are very forgiving of the mistakes likely to be made by a novice keeper. Also don't forget that if you keep the snake from when it is young that you are going to be dealing with something under a meter for about a year (squirm is just over a year, and just under a meter now) which is about right. Males grow shorter than females.
Hoooyyat F1X0R3 years ago
Ive never heard of the male female thing, wait is it males grow to be smaller, or males grow slower. A meter and a half?!!??! Even though they grow as long as they live, most corns dont get much more than 2.5-3 feet. My cousins corn corny is about 15 and only 3 feet. (My corn is nothing to go by because Selesst is only a month old.)
F1X0R (author)  Hoooyyat3 years ago
Squirm is now about 4 and a half feet, maybe a bit more so yes about 1.5m.
Hoooyyat F1X0R3 years ago
That's big for a corn. How old is he?
F1X0R (author)  Hoooyyat3 years ago
Now I need to think. About 4 years old.
Kenyan sand boa males get to about 2ft female 3ft 3ft=1yard1yard=to about 1.4 meters(I think) but they don't require hides as they burrow, docile and very easy first pets
Try the African House Snake. Don't get more than 3 feet (typically), VERY handleable and tame, and great eaters. Pretty much as easy to keep as a Corn, just not as colorful.
freeza362 years ago
they are not related to rattlesnakes any more than a garter snake is. corn snakes are collubrids, while rattlesnakes belong to viperidae
An Villain5 years ago
R.I.P. Steve.
yep. he was a cool guy
Yes.
ccoppola66 years ago
How long should you wait before handling a cornsnake after feeding time? Great tutorial by the way, I've always wanted a snake.
i wait about 2-3 days
with my corn, jerry, i leave him about 2 days, nor more and no less than 1 and a half days.
F1X0R (author)  ccoppola66 years ago
I would say a lot depends on the size of the meal. How ever most of the time, I don't handle squirm until he comes out of hiding in the evenings of his own accord. How ever an absolute minimum would be 24 hours to ensure that they don't throw the meal back up. But until they come out by themselves, its like asking you to go running after a huge meal, just just won't want to do that.
freeza362 years ago
umm you don't need a shovel. My teacher has 3 Burmese pythons. I have much experience
Nicely done! Corn snakes rule-- I hope my mom will let me get one.

Hope = when pigs fly/ hell freezes over.
My mom was originally against it but once i reminded her that she grew up with snakes and lizards, and that she had a corn once, she agreed.
my dad was against mine. Then he realized (after about 6 years) that i needed one
harhar same problem
F1X0R (author)  GorillazMiko6 years ago
hahaha, the way i got my mum to agree was to start of with saying "mum can I get a tarantula" and worked back from there! in the end mum ended up wanting to get some barking tree frogs but never did, though can you imagine it, bloody frogs keep barking in the night! squirm has grown on my whole family over the course of the last 9 months or so (3 months old when i got him!) except maybe dad, who is convinced that squirm doesn't like him, because he has handled him only twice and both times squirm went to the toilet on him!
F1X0R (author) 6 years ago
kellogs corn snake, quite good, i know someone who's got a corn called Adolf Hissler, quite distasteful anyway . and yeah I have to agree birds are one of the largest predators of corn snakes, hence why they don't like being out in the day. I find it isn't necessary to use a large housing to being with (really difficult to find when they are little) but once they get bigger its more ideal to just provide lots of hiding places. i know they aren't exactly agoraphobic but it was the best way i could think to describe it. although it is arguable because there are no birds in my room, and so its not rational to be afraid of anything in my room for a snake (same reason people are afraid of spiders, despite them being no danger at all is instinct , primitive part of the brain controls fears, the amagdyla) at the moment squirm is in a fairly small enclosure, when i notice he starts getting active in the evening (he won't straight after feeds or anything) then he comes out for a couple of hours to slither around my room as he pleases, obviously I'm watching him the whole time.
Hoooyyat F1X0R3 years ago
So you let a yearling corn out for hours to slither about your room as he pleases? Seems like something bad could happen or he could get away!
0.775volts6 years ago
Pretty well done. You take good care of your corn, many props for that! Before touring, I had a corn for about six months, she was great. I always fed her in the box, never realized you needed a second area to feed her. I did a few different things when it came to feeding (she was always a very good feeder). I nuke a cup of water for about two minutes, then put the fuzzies in a plasic bag and submerge them for tow or three minutes. the water warms them nicely, but the plastic helps keep the scent in. if you try this method, be sure to rest the mice in your hand after warming them up, if they're too hot you can injure your snake. if they have cold or even frozen spots in the middle, the snake may puke them back up again. this is bad for the snake, and i would assume would be very gross to clean up. another point I learned that may help is this: don't handle your snake the day you feed her if you can help it, and give her a day or two after feeding. this helps to seperate yourself from the prey objects. I fed vlad with chopsticks, I found that to work quite well, but like I said, she was always quick on the draw, I never had to play much to get her to grab the mouse. in the states, the vet you want to look for is called a "Specialist". look for one of them and ask if they work with snakes. you can also call the nearest zoo and ask them if they have a list or something. the zoo is usually very helpful. if you can't find mice nearby (and be picky, don't EVER use dead lab mice). you can order them from Rodentpro.com . this isn't a plug or anything, but I got mine from them, and their quality is pretty good. 200 fuzzies plus shipping came in at around $60 usd, but that's because they ship them frozen on dry ice. the shipping charge is about $30, so if you order, stock up. it's also fun to tell you friends to get something out of the freezer when you know they're gonna run into a big bag of frozen mice. about your terrariums, you should have a cool side and a warm side, so the snake can move around to regulate temperature. yours is a pretty good layout. I had a devil of a time working this kind of thing out, but when I got it right, vlad just seemed happier somehow. You can keep putting her in larger terrariums if you want, your snake won't mind the additional room as he or she gets older, and it will help your snake to grow as well. corns can get up to two meters or so, but if you keep her in a small terrarium, she'll stay small. when I got vlad she was about 1.2 meters,about 2 cm in diameter and she was 8 years old. after 6 months in a large terrarium, she had grown to 1.7 meters, and was about 4 cm. I did feed her alot, but I kept a careful eye to see if she was getting overweight (your vet can show you how to check). she started at 2 fuzzies per week, but I kicked that up to 2 fuzzies twice a week after the first month when she always seemed ravenous. after that I gave her one every other day until she stopped accepting food, gave her a week and then did three and two per week. that's alot, but after a month of that she was noticeably longer and was more active. though you may not need to feed so aggressively if you're starting with a young snake. another note: make sure you have a lid that shuts securely! vlad got out once, and was gone for about a week before I found her, needless to say she was quite stressed and dirty from a week of slithering wherever she got off to. anyway, have fun with your corn, and keep up the good work!
Corns keep growing no matter what size tank they are in. As they grow you MUST put them in a larger Vivarium or they will become depressed, or sick. A corn should be able to stretch out their lungs, which are about 3/4 of their entire body so the vivarium should be that long(ish) and about 1/3 of the snakes length in tank depth and height.

Check your local Herpetology Society for more info on everything
I dont think you've mentioned how often you have to feed the snake. I guess the feeding schedule is the same for all snaked of the same size, as with dogs, but how often do you give em the mice? also, can you substitute mice for something else? is meat ok?
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