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Picture of Your First pet snake.

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

Picture of 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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HunerP21 days ago

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HunerP21 days ago
abigail19971 month ago
I have a female corn snake and she shed her skin yesterday she was perfectly fine yesterday I didn't touch he or anything . But I woke up a morning and she was dead. What is the cause of this sudden death
Hi so I am very keen to buy a snake but I have no idea if i am ready!
I done some research and I know I would like a corn snake but I am not sure whether or not to go buy one or adopt one as I was told there are a lot of snakes needing rehomed. Also I am not sure if I am better getting a young or older snake. I read your "Considerations" and nothing put me off so just looking for some insight from someone who owns a snake :)

I bought a baby corn snake yesterday along with its tank setup. I forgot to ask the breeder about the gender and if it was fed because I wouldn't have time to buy the mice until tomorrow. So I followed the tank instructions which is to put the heating pad on the side of the tank. I usually see it under the tank so I thought this was a different case. I also read to turn of the light at night, which I did. Anyway I woke up this morning and found my snake stretched out and not moving. I'm too afraid to pick it up and see if it's dead. It was near the side where the heating pad is. Did it freeze to death?

Did the instructions mean to put the heating pad off to the side of the tank? It doesn't sound right having on the side of the tank. I keep mine under the far side of the tank.

baileef3 months ago

I will be getting my first snake soon, and was wondering if there were any tips you could give me? I've been doing a lot of research (staying up until around 4:30 each morning) to get all of the information I can so I know the generic information and care, but was wondering if there were any things that you learned from experience that would help me and my snake? Any help would be appreciated!

F1X0R (author)  baileef3 months ago
One thing which is very common, especially with younger snakes is in the first year or two around spring time they become incredibly active and they don't want to eat at all. This often panics a lot of new keepers. Its pretty normal though. They generally go off their food at this time, they are looking for a mate and that is also why they become very restless. They should return to normal in a month or maybe too. they can easily go this length of time without eating. Its not a problem.

Another thing to be aware of is any wheezing noises. If they're close to shedding then I wouldn't worry too much, its most likely loose skin rather than anything else. However corn snakes (and others) can suffer from upper respiratory infections. If they're not close to a shed and their breathing is noisy then its best to turn up the temp in their viv for a couple of weeks and see how they progress if it doesn't clear up in this time then its a trip to the vet I'm afraid.
nada.abh.33 months ago

How often is it necessary to take the corn snake out to wander and play?

Skeyekb5 months ago
So I just got a corn snake, and I know you're not supposed to handle them until a couple days after they eat. So how do you get it from the eating location back into the tank?
F1X0R (author)  Skeyekb5 months ago
Hi there, sorry its taken me a little while to get back to you on this one.

Very simply you pick them up and put them back. It isn't a zero tolerance thing. However think of it like this. if you just ate a great big meal you wouldn't be too impressed if you were made to go for a jog straight afterwards. Corn snakes will like to move around a lot when they're handled and this upsets them. Very quick handling (just for logisitics) isn't really a problem. The point is that they shouldn't be picked up and handled excessively during this period rather than not touched at all.

Another thing which is worth while noting, especially as they get a little bit older is that they can mistake your hand for food and strike when you go to put them back. If you're not confident on this use a motorcycle glove (or something similar). Just be firm when you handle them. Hand straight in, away from the face, pick up firmly and swiftly and they should generally realise what's going on and be fine from that point. Hesitating can give you issues at this point.
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.97 months 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.97 months 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.9843498 months 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.

bcopley11 year 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)  bcopley18 months 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
Krasen1 year ago

Why are you giving him 2 mice ?

Riverfire2 years 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.
freeza363 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.
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