You now consider yourself an expert in handling, feeding, and taking care of a corn snake. However, when it comes to breeding, your mind simply goes blank!
If you think it’s time to allow your vibrantly colored reptile to mate and make a nice little family, this guide can be your backup. Below, we’ll answer all your questions regarding how to breed corn snakes.
We’ll go through the entire mating process, the perfect time for corn snakes to mate, breeding with and without brumation, and the possibility of mating with other types of snakes.
So, buckle up and enjoy the ride!
The mating process of corn snakes is fairly straightforward; it comes naturally to the male and female corn snakes if the timing and weather are right (we’ll discuss those later).
Better still, males don’t usually have a hard time with their first mating session; they’ll immediately want to mate with any female you introduce them to!
Normally, the mating process begins when the female releases pheromones into the air to attract a male corn snake. Soon enough, the male smells that distinctive scent and follows it to its source.
Then, the male starts letting the female know his intentions by either using chemical signals or behavioral ones. Afterward, the male snake moves to line up both their bodies until the cloacal openings are properly aligned with each other.
When everything is perfectly in position, the male’s hemipenis suddenly enters the female, and soon enough, sperm travels the distance between their bodies in a rapid motion.
As you’ve probably guessed, the entire intercourse only takes a few minutes. Yet, usually, the two snakes will remain intertwined for around 20 minutes or so.
Usually, corn snakes have to be 2–3 years old to be ready for breeding because that’s when their bodies are healthy enough for mating.
However, it’s important that both snakes have been properly taken care of and fed to be in tip-top shape for breeding at this age.
Technically, corn snakes will reach sexual maturity at around 18 months, and they might try to mate with each other at this point.
But we don’t recommend you breed your snakes at this age, as they’ll grow healthier and more capable of completing the task with minimum complications at around two years of age.
Corn snakes typically mate at the beginning of spring, right after the coldest months of winter. They don’t mate whenever they wish to at any time of the year.
Still, many pet owners can create the right weather for mating indoors, even if it’s summer. By adjusting light exposure durations and temperature levels, you can mimic the weather of early spring to encourage your snakes to mate without having to wait.
Most snake owners breed their corn snakes with brumation, which is another word for cooling the snakes over winter months to prepare them for breeding.
While you can definitely breed corn snakes without brumation, we’ll always recommend you stick to the brumation method. This is because this method is closer to their natural breeding cycle, so there’s a higher chance it’ll go smoothly and without complications.
Now that’s settled, let’s find out how to breed corn snakes with brumation step-by-step!
Part of your responsibility as a corn snake parent and breeder is to have all the right tools or equipment to help your snakes breed seamlessly. Here’s everything you might need:
- Several reptile boxes with lids
- A hygrometer to keep moisture levels in check
- An incubator (or a glass tank with a heating pad)
- A suitable incubating medium like vermiculite
- A good moisture-retaining substrate (peat moss, coconut, etc.)
- A spray bottle with water for misting
- An additional vivarium (if you’ll be keeping the baby snakes)
It’s not enough to make sure that your snake is at the right age for breeding. There are other considerations to keep in mind if you already have a female and male snake or you own one and are preparing to buy the opposite sex.
First, they should both be healthy. Their ideal weight should be around two pounds, while the length of each snake shouldn’t be less than five feet.
To further make sure that their health is in top shape, have both snakes examined by the vet. Ensure there aren’t any signs of underlying health conditions or diseases.
Some signs that the snakes may not be fit for breeding include:
- Blisters on the skin
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Foaming at the mouth
- A body deformity
- Feeding issues and complications
Second of all, it’s best to avoid inbreeding. While many people will tell you that it isn’t as big a deal as inbreeding mammals, it could still lead to deformities in the offspring or even early death.
To steer clear of this scenario, we suggest getting your corn snake couple from two different breeders. This way, there’ll be a lower chance that they’re related to each other.
You can start by stopping offering food to your snakes by mid-November. Do it gradually over the course of a few days or an entire week.
Then, gradually lower the core temperature at the beginning of December until it optimally reaches 55 degrees. Make sure to keep a close watch on the vivarium’s temperature so that it doesn’t go below 50 degrees or above 60.
The step after that would be to let no light reach the enclosure at all. Keep your snakes in the dark by either leaving their tank in a room that you’re not using for the time being or moving it to your basement.
During the brumation period, you shouldn’t disturb your snakes. Just check on them from time to time to ensure that the temperature is right and to refill their water bowls.
Take note that you also shouldn’t give them food at all, as they won’t be able to digest it.
Now, by the end of February, you can finally start to raise the temperature in the vivarium to its normal levels. However, don’t feed your snakes immediately after, but wait until three days have passed before starting with a small meal, such as a pinky mouse.
Soon enough, the snakes will restore their appetites, and they can gradually go back to their regular feeding habits.
Two or three weeks after brumation, the male corn snake should be ready for mating. On the other hand, the female will take a bit longer—4–5 weeks.
During this period, it’s important to feed your snakes three times a week and watch for any signs that they’re prepared for mating. Usually, these signs are:
- Males will shed their skin.
- Females will show some swelling or bumps in their lower bodies, which is a sign of ovulation.
- Females will shed their skin afterward, around two weeks after the males do.
If you notice these symptoms, it’s time to kickstart the mating process!
Begin by introducing your pair of snakes to each other. You can follow these steps to ensure a smooth experience:
- Increase the humidity inside the tank by spraying the substrate with water to allow the male corn snake to smell the female’s pheromones faster.
- Put both snakes inside the vivarium and make sure to monitor their interaction to ward off any chances of cannibalism.
- The male snake will show interest in the female and will intertwine with her.
- If they remain intertwined for around half an hour, that’s your sign that they’ve mated.
- Remove the male snake from the vivarium and repeat the process around three times a week for a couple of weeks.
- A sign that your female snake is gravid is when she shows a peak on her spine.
Corn snakes will typically be ready to lay eggs 4–6 weeks after fertilization. Around that time, many signs will let you know that your female snake is prepared for egg laying, such as:
- Pre-birth shedding (two weeks before laying eggs)
- Hiding in a secluded spot in the tank
- Sticking to moist parts of the substrate
The final stage of breeding your corn snakes is to safely handle the eggs that are laid. Remember that the tank must maintain a humidity level of 55%, and you can keep that in check using the hygrometer.
Corn snakes can be pretty unpredictable when it comes to laying eggs. So, the female might lay them during the day or night when you’re not there to witness it.
While you wait, you should prepare a nesting box and line it with peat moss or sphagnum moss. Also, it’s a good idea to up the female’s eating game, if she’ll accept it.
Finally, when the eggs make an appearance, you should wait 24 hours before moving them to the incubator. This way, you’ll be sure that the snake has laid all of her eggs.
Here’s the right way to incubate corn snake eggs:
- Grab a few plastic boxes with lids and clean them thoroughly.
- Create tiny holes in each one for ventilation.
- Spread a suitable laying medium in each container (use a thickness of one inch).
- Place the eggs carefully in the containers, close the lids, and put the boxes inside an incubator.
- Incubate the eggs at 78–80 degrees and a humidity level of 75–80%.
You can follow the same method above to breed corn snakes without brumation, minus the cooling part. However, remember that you’ll risk the formation of unfertilized eggs.
One thing you’ll have to do here, though, is to separate the male snake from the female before introducing them for mating. Hopefully, they’ll start to mate immediately when you put them back together, as we’ve already discussed.
Yes, you can breed corn snakes with ball pythons, king snakes, milk snakes, and rat snakes to create crossbreeds.
It’s fairly easy to breed corn snakes as long as you follow their breeding requirements such as temperature, humidity, timing, and season.
Even beginners can breed corn snakes if they stick to the guidelines mentioned in this article.
Now that you know how to breed corn snakes, it doesn’t sound so intimidating anymore, does it?
While you can definitely breed those snakes without brumation, we’ll always recommend going the brumation route. It has a higher success rate and almost no complications whatsoever.
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.