Corn snakes are natives of the southeastern areas of the United States. Their living ranges start from as far in the west as Illinois, pass through the Florida Keys, and end at New Jersey.
Whether you’re moving in forests, rocky hills, or flatwoods, you can find corn snakes all around. Despite the variance in their living areas, they all agree on one thing; they need their space.
That’s why managing the size of a corn snake tank can be a little tricky. You have to take into consideration the size of your snake, the different areas it needs, and how much space you can actually provide.
This brings us to the question: How big of a tank does a corn snake need? So, let’s delve into the details.
Let’s start with the fact that a corn snake needs three different areas in its tank. These areas are as follows:
- Cold side: This side’s temperature should range between 71°F to 82°F.
- Warm side: The temperature on the warm side should range between 80°F to 85°F
- Basking area: This surface should range between 88°F to 92°F
Also, it’s even better if you can provide hides for your snake in the cool side area. This makes it feel right at home.
Don’t forget the fact that your snake’s length will vary from two to six feet, you have to provide ample space for your snake to relax in all three areas.
A general rule of thumb is that the length should be equal to the length of the corn snake. On the other hand, the width and height should be at least half the corn snake’s length.
So, from the snake’s average size and these minimum requirements, the minimum tank size should be 72 inches in length and 36 inches in both width and height for a big snake.
If your corn snake is generally a small-sized one, you can go for a minimum of 24 inches in length and 12 inches in both width and height.
Finally, if we’re talking very broadly, the average needed size would be 48 inches in length and 24 in width and height.
It’s worth mentioning that bigger is always better with corn snakes. These pets are avid climbers, so increasing the height of the enclosure would definitely make them happy.
For an adult snake to be comfortable in its enclosure, you should opt for a 25-gallon option on average. For small adult snakes, you can use a 56-gallon tank, while you should use up to 260 gallons for large-sized adult corn snakes.
Terrariums with front openings are typically the go-to option for parents of reptiles and amphibians.
Terrariums are known for their security, effective retention of heat and humidity, and the fact that they’re easy to access. However, they’re not always available in sizes that suit adult snakes, especially big-sized ones.
That’s why you can opt for a glass aquarium of an appropriate size. You have to make sure to black out three of the four sides to provide more security for your corn snake.
Not only that, but you’ll have to devise plans to prevent your corn snake from escaping, as aquariums aren’t the most secure way to house a snake.
The shortest answer is no. Given that a 10-gallon tank will measure 20″ x 10″ x 12″, that means that it’s not even suitable to house a small-sized corn snake.
You can opt for a 25-gallon tank for the minimum average, and it would suit the average-sized corn snake.
A 20-gallon tank is also still not suitable to house a fully-grown adult corn snake. A 20-gallon tank will measure 24″ x 12″ x 16″ if it’s high and 30″ x 12″ x 12″ if it’s long. So, it still doesn’t cover the minimum size requirements for even a small-sized corn snake.
The 10-gallon, 20-gallon, and 25-gallon options would all be suitable to house a baby corn snake.
They may not be the most sustainable options in the long run, but they’re good options if you need a smaller tank to tide you over until you sort out your space or a budget for a large enough tank.
Unlike the case with adults, you can house baby corn snakes in much smaller enclosures. It also depends on which stage of growth they’re at, so let’s take a look at each.
In both cases, baby corn snakes or juveniles, you’ll need to install a lot of hides in their enclosures to help them feel safer.
This is because corn snakes are born with the natural instinct to avoid predators, so they look for places to hide at this vulnerable stage.
Now, this could work well for breeders, as they would have differently-sized tanks at hand. However, as an owner, you’ll probably stick to one size.
Hatchlings are too young to actually separate into new homes and should be kept around their nests for a while. Once they become babies, you can take them to small enclosures, where 10-gallon tanks can work.
When your baby corn snake grows some more to become a juvenile, you can keep it in a 20-gallon tank until it becomes a full adult.
This tank can have fewer hides, but it should be taller to provide the juvenile corn snake with some space to explore and move around as it becomes curious.
You might be thinking that it would be inconvenient to get a small tank for your baby or juvenile corn snake and then switch to a bigger one once they reach adulthood.
To avoid this hassle, you can buy a big tank from the get-go and use hides extensively to provide young corn snakes with the security they need.
It could be more cost-efficient for you to spend less money on a smaller tank and switch to a larger one when your corn snake becomes a fully-grown adult after two years.
Bear in mind that male corn snakes will grow larger than females. So, when you’re choosing your tank sizes, make sure to take this discrepancy into consideration.
Firstly, opt for the largest tank you can afford. Secondly, divide the enclosure into sections, each providing the right temperature and humidity for your corn snake.
You can also use climbing materials to enhance your corn snake’s health and help them tone its muscles as they grow. It’s a good idea to use fake plants as they can withstand the snake’s climbing activities.
Adding branches where your corn snake can relax and warm its belly is also a nice bonus. Add some in the basking area to retain heat from the heating lamp or mat that you add to the tank.
This provides the corn snake with the surface warmth it needs to warm its belly for better bodily functions.
Moreover, adding hides to the cold side would also provide young snakes with a safe space, while providing adult snakes with a place to cool off.
As we’ve mentioned, glass aquariums aren’t the most secure option for housing a corn snake. This is why you should use a minimum of four lid clamps to prevent your snake from escaping.
It’s worth mentioning that the larger your tank is, the more lid clamps you’ll need to keep it in place.
Steer clear of tape, as it could harm your corn snake if it gets in contact with the sticky side of the tape.
To house two snakes together, you should provide ample space for each one individually. For example, if the first one measures four feet while the second measures six, you would need a 48″ x 24″ x 24″ tank for the former and a 72″ x 36″ x 36″ tank for the six-foot snake.
Therefore, you’d need a 120″ x 60″ x 60″ tank to house both together.
Generally speaking, it’s not the best practice to house two corn snakes in the same vivarium. This is because the bigger snake can prey on the smaller one, or they could breed unexpectedly if they’re of the opposite gender.
Moreover, this puts both corn snakes at a higher risk of catching diseases. Not to mention, it could stress both snakes out as neither would feel like it owns its home.
The only case where you can house two corn snakes is if the following applies:
- They’re of the same gender
- They’re both adults
- Increase the number of hides (double them so that each snake has its solitary spaces)
- Feed each one on its own to make sure they’re both getting enough food
There are a lot of calculations that you have to take into consideration when asking “How big of a tank does a corn snake need?”
The answer is a combination of how large your snake is, how much space it would need in each of the enclosure’s zones, and how many hides you’re going to add to the cool side.
Once you figure out these basics, the choice is going to be a lot easier. You’ll be one step closer to finishing the quest for searching for the perfect home for your corn snake.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.