I personally think that a corn snake is an ideal first snake to have. They usually are made up of different colours, primarily orange, red and yellow . These are classed as
albino. The ones with the brown and black colouring mixed with the primary colours are classed as normal or traditional corn snakes, with the exception of the black albino.These come in two different types of anerythrism (type A type B).The rest of this page is dedicated to the basic care and requirements of a corn snake.
The housing of a corn snake need only be basic unless you prefer something more elaborate, the basic housing requirements are as follows:
A hatchling corn snake up to 12 to 18 months old will require a vivarium of 12 inches high 12 inches wide and between 18 and 24 inches long. In this vivarium there should be at least 2 hides,1 for the hot end of it and 1 for the cool end, a water bowl which should ideally be changed daily, but every other is acceptable and a climbing branch or artificial plant for the snake to climb on. An adult corn will live quite happly on it's own in a 3foot long viv but for a pair a 4foot viv would be better, so they can have a bit more room without falling over them self & without being cramped. Also with a bigger viv & snakes comes bigger hides and water bowl. For a 4ft viv i would recomend a 17 by 11 inch heatmat or the next size up if the viv is wide and high (wider then 15inches and higher then 15 inches).
(this is a picture of my 4ft long-15inches wide-20inches high viv setup with a 17 by 11 heat mat and a light for a basking spot).
A good substrate should 1) absorb fecal material 2)cover the viv floor to aid the snake with traction 3) be pleasing to the eye.
Newspaper can work but personally you would have to change it every week and is not really easy on the eye which is why i prefer aspen or woodchips. Avoid substrates such as cedar, pine and walnut which may be toxic especially to juveniles, the main reason being because if swallowed it could cause blood poisoning, mouth rot and other internal organ irritation which could lead to the snake not being able to eat.
Heating and Lighting
Heat should be provided using a heat mat, and the temperature of the heat mat should be in the region of 28C - 32C at the hottest end and is the ideal temperature for a corn snake. The heat mat should ideally cover one third of the viv, but one quarter would be fine with the additional heat coming from the source of the lighting with a small heat output. The coolest end of the viv should be between 20C-22C to help your snake regulate its body temperature, as all snakes are cold blooded and need tp thermo regulate their bodies. Also get some LCD card thermometers (like stuck to fish tanks) and just lay them on the surface of the substrate (ie where the snakes belly goes) and at the warm end it should roughly be 82-86F or 28-32C. The cool end around room temp, 65-75 or 20-22 degree C.
Lighting is a personal choice as corns can live happily without the additional light, this is a personal choice for the owner because some people like to exhibit their snakes unique colours by diffent methods of light e.g. flourescent tube lights which mimic the sun to a standard 25 watt light bulb which gives off little heat but lights up the viv and shows the snake when it is active. this is the method i prefer to use but as i say it is up to your preference.
Water and Humidity
As been previously touched on water should be changed daily and the bowl should be big enough for the snake to curl up in with a bit of room to spare. A ceramic or pot bowl is preffered so that it cannot be tipped over, as snakes are notorious for tipping the water everywhere.
Corns usually require quite a high humidity level of around 40-60 %, i use a bottle with a spray nozzle and spray 3 times inside the viv on a daily basis to keep the humidity level stable, this also helps the snake when he or she is shedding its skin.
(See Picture below for an idea of a ceramic bowl. This model I bought from http://www.livefoods.co.uk/ Where I buy most of my reptile equipment)
My Water bowl (bottom Left) & artificial plants and branches for climbing on
The primary diet of a corn is mice as they give all the vitamins minerals and other dietary requirements that a healthy corn snake needs. Other food items can be given but only as a change or if your snake is off its food, such as treefrogs, chicks, small lizards and amphibians. A hatchling needs to be fed every 3-4 days(I fed my own hatchlings every 4 days). Through to adulthood the period should be lengthened a day at a time every time you upgrade to a bigger food sample up to 7 days when it becomes an adult. When it becomes an adult a medium to large mouse (depending on the size of the adult) should satisfy its hunger and will probably eat every 7 days.
As a Reptile grows, it's old skin becomes tighht and worn, with a new skin available directly under the top layer (old skin). As the snake gets ready to shed the top coat of skin known as a shed, the snakes eyes will turn a milky blue or pink colour, this takes about 3-6 days (depending on the snake) from start to finish before the eyes clear back to normal. Once the eyes have cleared the snake will be ready to shed it's skin which, depending on humidity can take between 3-7 days. My Blizzard usually takes 4 days after the "Blue" period before she sheds in 1 piece, & Chocky usuall takes about 7 days sometines a little longer, but Chocky had serious shedding problems before i got him & now he shed's in 1 piece as well. If your snake is struggleing or sheds in more then 1 piece then the most likley cause is that the humidity is to low so try upping this th around 50-60%.
Chocky & Blizzrd meeting for the first time
Introducing 2 corns can be very stressfull for the both snakes involved. I would recomend handleing both snakes together for about a week so they have chance to get to know each other, before you decide to put them in a viv together. Please make sure they are roughly the same size, ie if both snakes are adults this doesn't really matter, but for 2 hatchlings or yearlings make sure the size diferance is no more then say 6-7 inches. The 2 in the picture are my 2 snakes, Chocky (the AMELANISTIC CORN SNAKES) and Blizzard (a snow corn) being introduced for the First time.
Many thanks goes to Kathy love for her book, which I used to cross referance with other care sheets, & my own personal experience to put together this site with as many facts and infomation as I could in 2 days. I would also like to thank Steve for his web site which also taught me a lot before buying a snake, and his forum for help and advice. I will be updating this site weekly so please come back and visit for new snake pictures and more detailed explaination's as I write them.