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 Neil Lawler
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As mentioned previously, please consider that you are not just paying for a snake, but for all its other requirements also. And this can be costly. There are many requirements, but once you have everything up and running, you will not have to splash out on more equipment. Before you purchase your snake, you should have all the necessary equipment ready. The most important piece of equipment is the ‘tank’ the snake is to live in. The proper names for this ‘tank’ are vivarium and terrarium; vivarium is more commonly used, though.

Before I got my first Corn Snake, my brother and I had been sharing two Leopard Geckos. When we first got them, I must have been around seven or eight. I loved the sweet lizards for a while, but grew tired of the constant care and attention along with my other commitments. I remember that one day, my brother and I were out at some kid’s club. As our mum came to pick us up, our dad phoned us. Someone had left the door of the vivarium open. (That someone was my annoying younger brother!) My brother’s gecko had escaped, but mine was still safe and sound.

We searched and searched for my brother’s gecko, but never found it. A couple of months later, my gecko seamed unhappy and I felt more annoyed at the work involved. We went into the pet shop and looked through the reptiles. I was fascinated by the snakes, most of all the Corn Snakes.

We swapped my Leopard Gecko for a Corn Snake that day.

When most people purchase baby Corn Snakes, they only buy small containers for them to live in.

With the containers, they must purchase a heat mat, a small ventilated enclosure e.g. a Tupperware box with tight fitting lid measuring around 35cm x 18cm, a thermometer inside the tank, a thermostat to be placed on the heat mat with a temperature to be set to 25 – 26 degrees, for the substrate (the material to cover the bottom of the tank) use newspaper or wood shavings, a drinking bowl and a hide for your snake. For the thermostat, I recommend the HabiStat from the Living Earth range. You can also purchase Corn Snake starter kits which contain all of these requirements and sometimes more.

The baby Corn Snakes will need this small tank for around six months as they are said to feel uncomfortable in large spaces. I had a vivarium that was once for our geckos which we put my first Corn Snake in.  The vivarium was around 18 inches (46 cm) in length. The height wasn’t important – Corn Snakes do like to climb, but a log in the vivarium is completely adequate. It is said that younger Corn Snakes do not like larger enclosures, but my snake seemed extremely happy anyhow. If you opt for a vivarium, just use the same equipment as you would for a smaller enclosure, though you will need a heat lamp as well (set to roughly 28 degrees) and you may want to include washed or bought logs and other items for decoration. I would recommend logs as Corn Snakes enjoy climbing up and down them for exercise.

We had a metal mesh over our heat lamp which protected my snakes from burning themselves.

It is good to also include two hides, one at either end. (This is explained in A Teen’s Story.) You may also want to include large, thoroughly washed stones to help the snakes shed their skin – they will brush against the stones to get rid of some skin. I would also include some sphagnum moss inside your snake’s hides for their comfort and to help the shedding process.

As your Corn Snake starts to become an adult size, the vivarium should probably be around 36 inches (nearly one metre) long. It shouldn’t be too deep either, maybe around 18 - 24 inches. Again, all the same requirements are needed.

Additional purchases may be necessary, including spray for avoiding the spreading of diseases such as salmonella, and other decorations for the inside of the vivarium e.g. fake leaves. A cabinet for the vivarium may be required also. I kept all of my items for my Corn Snake in here. It had a dustpan and brush (for cleaning), special antibacterial spray (also for cleaning), a large bag of bark chips, a mat (for taking my snake out for exercise) and a tub of sphagnum moss.

When cleaning a Corn Snake’s vivarium, a lot of people take their snake out and put it in a separate container e.g. Tupperware box. Instead, I used to put my Corn Snakes on a large mat where they could exercise. I had my little brother to watch over them whilst I cleaned the vivarium, but I had to bribe him with reads of my Beanos! It was a nightmare when the snakes excreted on the mat though, and I’ll talk about cleaning that in A Teen’s Story!  

As well as all these things, however, you will need to purchase food as well. This may be a problem if there are others in your household who dislike small, dead, frozen rodents.

First of all, you’re going to need to buy a small bag of frozen Pinkies. (Pinkies are basically very young mice.) These should be fed to your snake roughly every five or six days, depending on what your shopkeeper tells you. As the snake grows larger, you will need other sizes of mice or rats which can be purchased online or in your local pet-store. Always ask your shopkeeper’s advice about the routine of feeding and other queries you may have.


Corn Snake Care - Basic Requirements

Many of the items discussed here can be purchased in our new shopping section!

A Teen’s Story

Now you’ve read the guide, click to read about Chris’s personal story of keeping Corn Snakes.

Corn Snake Care - Ready?!

If you’re sure that a pet Corn Snake is right for you, then here’s a handy list of what you’ll need/choose to acquire when starting out. Items that are absolutely essential are marked with an ‘E’, but other items which may be subject to personal preference are marked with a ‘P’. Each item is also a clickable link, which will take you to browse Corn Snake products on our site!