Hi I'm bethany I'm 12 I'm going to get a corn snake in two months and I need to know some stuff before I get one of they where to bite me what would it do to my hand. And I have dog and she wild if she was together near it what would it do can it hurt them. How much do they cost.  If I get one from the pet store how would I know if it's healthy how do I handle them. What kind of mice do they eat. How much are there cages and the stuff they need are the aggressive when babies. When should I get them when there adults or babies. How many times do I need clean there cages. How many times do I need to feed it. How do I know if it's a boy or a girl. How do you know if there are aggressive

Here are the things you will absolutely need:

A secure enclosure (cage).  This could be a glass aquarium with a sliding, locking screen top, or a specially made reptile cage.  An adult corn snake will need a 20 gallon long sized aquarium (or similar-sized cage), but a baby can be kept in a 10 gallon for a year or so.  Your corn snake will grow to adulthood in 3 years.  Corns snakes are escape artists, and baby corn snake can fit through very tiny gaps, so a SECURE cage that latches or locks is a must!  Corn snakes can climb things you wouldn't believe, such as the caulk strip in the corner of the tank.

You will need an undertank heat mat that covers about half of the underside of the cage - this should be placed on one side, so the other side is cooler.  This heat mat ABSOLUTELY MUST be controlled either by a rheostat (if the temperatures in your house are stable, and don't change much between day and night), or a thermostat, if air temperatures in your house do change more than a couple of degrees.  These controlling devices are not optional.  Using a heat mat without a controlling device is dangerous for the animal, and may even pose a risk of fire.  The controller will probably be the most expensive thing you will buy for your snake, but getting a good one will protect your snake's health for life.

You will need a digital thermometer with a remote probe.  Pet stores sell expensive ones, but you can get a cheap indoor/outdoor thermometer with a probe from Walmart.  This thermometer will allow you to record the air temperature in the cage on the cool side, and the exact temperature of the cage floor over the heat mat (which is where you should arrange the probe).  Don't use tape.  Snakes have a remarkable ability to find and stick themselves to tape.

The hot spot over the heat mat (under the substrate) should be 88F.  Keep the substrate (bedding) thin.  This way, the snake can never touch anything hotter than 88F.  Temperatures over 90F could harm it.  The air temperature on the cool side should be 75F.

If you live in a very dry area, you might need to worry about humidity, but corn snakes are comfortable at the same humidity that humans prefer, for the most part.  If your snake ever has a bad shed, where the shed skin sticks to it and doesn't come off in one piece, it means the humidity is too low.  Provide a humid hide (instructures are online) or mist the cage once a day, lightly, to help raise the humidity and prevent this.  Stuck shed can be soaked off with a warm wet washcloth and very gentle rubbing.  Remember that a stuck shed means the little snake was dehydrated!  It's not just about the moisture in the air, but also inside the snake.  So be sure to raise the humidity if the snake has a bad shed.

Bedding for a corn snake can be aspen shavings, shredded aspen, cypress mulch, a cage carpet, newspaper, or paper towel.  Don't use anything else.  Some bedding products, such as cedar and pine, are toxic to snakes.  Coco fiber is likely to lead to skin infections in corn snakes.

The corn snake will need a small water dish that it can soak in, but it should be pretty shallow and small, for a baby.  It will need a small, single-entrance hide cave or hide box, just big enough for the snake to curl up in.  Snakes need to feel secure.  Logs and large caves will not allow them to feel secure, so get the right hide, and get larger ones as the snake grows.  A good hide will mean a calm snake - and that means the snake will be less defensive and nervous, and will be easier to tame!

You should clean the cage when the snake defecates (poops).  You can spot clean - use a rubber glove, and remove the soiled bedding, and replace with fresh - during the month, then completely clean and wash the cage once a month.  Snakes will urinate and produce urates (white, chalky substance) a few times a week, but will usually only defecate as often as they eat (once or twice a week).  This makes them very easy to take care of.  A clean cage will protect your snake from skin infections, and completely eliminate odor.  Kept clean, reptiles have no odor.

Baby corn snakes CAN be defensive and snappy.  Not all of them are.  Most will quickly calm down with gentle handling.  Snakes virtually always calm down as they grow bigger and older.  

If a baby corn snake bites you, will feel a very minor, quick pain - less than a kitten's claws poking you.  There will be very tiny little pinprick holes left, which may bleed a little.  The bite really doesn't hurt, but it can be very startling.  The snake's teeth are so fine and sharp (even sharper than kitten claws), they cause little pain.  A bite from a corn snake should just be washed with soap and water.  Non-venomous snake bites almost never get infected.  If you see any unusual redness around the wound, of course, tell an adult and have it treated, but an accidental scratch from your dog would hurt a LOT more.

If your snake accidentally mistakes your fingers for food, he may grab you and hang on.  Don't panic!  It would be very easy to injure the snake seriously, if you panic.  Remember that he's just making a mistake, and it doesn't hurt much.  Stay calm, and put him under GENTLY running water, or just wait for him to figure it out and let go.  Very gently tapping him on the nose sometimes works.  This usually happens if YOU make a mistake, and forget to wash your hands after handling rodents!  If your fingers smell like food, he may think they are food! Accidental feeding bites like this are virtually always the owner's fault, not the snake's fault.

Corn snakes eat mice.  You can buy frozen mice, and thaw them in warm tap water.  The mouse should be warm all the way through before you feed it, or the snake could be hurt. It should be warm to the touch.  Use tongs to offer the mouse to the snake - you can make it wiggle a little so it looks more alive, lol.  (Not too much, or it would be scary).  Very young baby corn snakes eat pinkie (newborn) mice, while adult corn snakes eat up to 3 adult mice at a time.  The mouse should be as big around as the widest part of your snake's body, so as the snake grows, get bigger mice! Sometimes, when your snake is at an in-between size, not quite big enough for the next size up in mice, you can feed two of the smaller mice instead. (Two pinkies for a snake almost big enough to eat a fuzzy mouse, for example).

Feed the snake once every 5 to 7 days.  It doesn't seem like much food, but it's the right amount for a snake!

I highly recommend that you buy your snake from a breeder, and not from a pet store.  Corn snakes are one of the most commonly bred snakes in the world, and there is probably a breeder near you.  A breeder will be able to tell you everything about your snake - its age, when it's eating, what its temperament is (you can pick a calmer baby), and whether it is a male or female.  They can even show pictures of the parents, so you know what it might look like once it's fully grown!  Corn snakes can change a lot from the way they look as babies, once they are grown.  Additionally, a baby corn snake from a breeder will cost less than it would from a pet store, AND you will know its genetics and color/pattern.  A good breeder can provide support if you have any problems.

How much the snake itself costs, depends on what color and pattern you want.  Corn snakes can range in price from $15 to $3000!  There are many different colors and patterns available now for under $30.

Adult corn snakes are usually 3 to 5 feet long.  A few really big adult female corn snakes can reach 6 feet long, but this is rare!  A 5 foot long snake sounds huge, but corn snakes are so thin, it's really still a small snake.  Here is a video of a 4 year old, 5 foot long female corn snake:

Male corn snakes stay smaller and thinner, usually (there are always exceptions).

Telling the sex of a corn snake has to be done by someone very knowledgeable, with the right tools.  A breeder will use sexing probes to determine if a snake is male or female.  (Males keep their sex organs tucked inside of their tail - they are kept in pockets in the tail.  By putting a probe in the snake's cloaca, toward the tail tip, a person can see whether there is a pocket in there.  If it's a male, the probe will go in a long way - if female, only a short way.  A snake could easily be injured, so this has to be done by an expert).  Other ways to tell snake gender are not reliable for corn snakes.  Males usually have a longer tail with less taper to it than females do, but there is so much variation, you can't really use this to be sure of a snake's sex.

Finally, remember that snakes are not like dogs or cats.  They don't really want to be touched and handled, or play, or be petted.  They prefer peace and quiet.  When you first get a snake, leave it alone completely for the first week (no matter how much you want to play with it!).  After it eats for the first time (however long that takes), wait two days, and then you can begin some short, gentle handling sessions. Keep handling down to 1/2 hour once a day, and don't handle for 48 hours after a meal.  (A snake handled after eating might throw up its food, and that's harmful for the snake, as well as gross!)

A fully grown snake can be handled for an hour a day, if it is calm and doesn't seem frightened or nervous.  Remember that snakes also have moods, just like we do, so if your snake seems unusually defensive or nervous about being handled one day, respect that it's not in the mood, and try again another day.

A dog or cat can kill a snake faster than the blink of an eye - don't introduce your pets!

I think one of the best pieces of advice I can give you, is that you should never take advice from pet store people.  Most of them give the wrong advice!  They give wrong advice on everything from equipment, to feeding, to sexing, to size... all of it.  Many snakes have been hurt or died because people got the wrong advice from pet store workers.  So, to get the right information about your snake, check online forums that are for corn snake care, care sheets created by corn snake breeders, or ask corn snake breeders themselves!  Oh, and buy a book on corn snake care!  There are several great, recent books on how to care for corn snakes!


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

©2017 All rights reserved.