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Reptiles/Corn snake not eating


QUESTION: Hi, I have had my corn snake since 30 December 2012. I brought him as a 2 year old and was told he was eating normally. He didnt eat for about a month and a half then ate one mouse. Since then he has not eaten. He drinks and occasionally poos. He has also shed twice since i have had him. I keep him temp between 20-30 degrees and have plenty of shelter and things to climb on. I have tried all sorts of feeding methods but nothing seems to work. What do i do ?

ANSWER: Hi, Gaby,
One thing I would recommend is keeping track of your corn snake's weight. You can purchase a digital kitchen scale that weighs in grams, to do so. A mature male snake may go off feed over the winter, but if everything is all right, they should not lose a lot of weight during that time.  If the snake has lost noticeable amounts of weight, then it may be ill, and should see a vet.

I'm a bit concerned, also, by the temperature range you mentioned. 20 celcius is cold. No snake would eat at that temperature; they would be unable to digest their food, if they did.  The warmest spot in his cage should always be 30 C, and the cool end should be 21 C, so that the snake can choose a warmer or cooler spot at all times. The entire cage should not rise and fall in temperature, there should always be a gradient available.  Use a digital thermometer with a remote probe to track temperatures; the stick-on thermometers are so inaccurate as to be useless.

You did not mention hides/shelters.  Your corn snake should have a small, single-entrance hide that he can fit into snugly (too large, and it won't feel secure to him).  You should have one on each end of the cage, so he has one warm hide, and one cool hide, and doesn't have to choose between security and temperature. A hiding snake is a happy snake!

I recommend you not handle your corn snake until he is eating regularly - handling is stressful, and stress can cause reptiles to refuse food, so until the issue is solved, reduce stress as much as possible.

It's entirely possible that your snake is refusing food because it's winter.  Corn snakes normally brumate over the winter, then breed in the spring.  They begin eating again after breeding is done. Definitely re-check temperatures, and check over your basic husbandry; check the snake's weight, and if he's gotten too thin, get him a vet checkup.  If he gets a clean bill of health, then let him rest, and offer food once a week, until he starts eating again.  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your informations, this has been a relief.  I said 20-30 as i was told that but i have never seen it go bellow 21 and above 30, i have a thermometer at either end so i can tell and hides at either end for him, although they have 2 entrances, would he feel more secure if i changed this? Also i have a heat lamp and mat, this is correct?
I shall start weighing him but i have not noticed any change in his shape over the time of having him!

Yes, single-entrance hides make snakes feel less exposed, and safer, and they'll choose them if they have a choice. :)  Heat mats should be controlled by a thermostat or rheostat, as they can and will get hot enough to burn the snake, as they age.  (Or even start a fire).  Always check the temperature of the cage floor directly over the heat mat - this is what should be 30 C.  The air temperature on that side will probably not be 30C.  Heat lamps can drive humidity out of the cage, but so long as his sheds are coming off in a single piece, the humidity is probably all right.  (If he's had bed sheds, lose the heat lamp, and just rely on the controlled heat mat.  Putting the water bowl over the heat, and covering part of the top with plastic wrap, can also help keep humidity up).  

If you have a photo, I can probably tell you if his body condition looks normal. :)


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Donna Fernstrom


My particular focus is on snakes and lizards, but I have a decent smattering of knowledge of turtles and crocodilians as well, plus the experience to get relevant information quickly if I don't have it on hand in my brain. I can answer questions on captive care, diet, breeding, incubation of eggs, starting hatchlings, and more. I am particularly experienced with ball pythons, Lygodactylus geckos and other small lizards with similar care requirements, leopard geckos, and garter snakes.


I am a professional breeder of ball python morphs, Lygodactylus (dwarf) geckos, and mourning geckos. I have begun working with Irian Jaya carpet pythons, and plan to expand to include more gecko species in the future. I also have a background breeding leopard geckos, and have kept several other species of small lizards, snakes, and a water turtle.

Nebraska Herpetological Society (

I have many care sheets published on my own website.

High School Graduate. Extensively self-taught due to high interest in wildlife and reptile care.

Awards and Honors
Fauna Classifieds board of inquiry Good Guy Certification

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