Corn snakes are a popular choice among beginner and veteran snake owners. They’re well-known for being docile and easy to handle.
That said, if you’re new to snakes, constructing an appropriate tank for your corn snake can be difficult. Because the reptile’s life is on the line, meticulous planning and research are required.
So, what do corn snakes need in their tank?
There are six main things that your snake pet needs in its tank.
When building its enclosure, you need a spacious area, proper lighting and heating, appropriate bedding, clean water, and enrichment activities.
Keep reading and we’ll explain everything you need to know about corn snake tanks below.
Your Corn Snake’s Environment
The tank where you keep your pet snake is called a “vivarium.”
Many of the health issues and problems that snake keepers face with their pets are the result of a poor vivarium setup.
For that reason, your enclosure must provide an optimal environment in which your corn snake can survive. Take a look at the things that your corn snake would need inside its tank.
Your tank space is the first consideration when talking about a corn snake vivarium.
The size of your enclosure must be large enough for your corn snake to stretch out. Thus, you must match the length of your tank to your snake’s length.
If you have a 4-foot-long corn snake, you’ll also need a 4-foot-long tank. Meanwhile, the depth and width of the tank must be at least 1/3 of your snake’s length.
Additionally, corn snakes are escape artists. In the wild, they’re used to crawling into small and tight spaces to catch their prey or escape from their predators.
With that in mind, a small opening in your enclosure can let your pet snake escape.
To prevent your corn snake from getting out and causing unwanted injuries, your tank must have a tight and secure lid. You can try installing a vivarium lock to up your tank’s security.
Corn snakes are ectothermic, which means that they rely on their surroundings to regulate their body heat. Hence, a balanced temperature inside your tank is an important factor in keeping your slithery friend healthy.
These snakes require a tank temperature of 75 to 85°F. You can achieve this by using an artificial heat source, such as a heat lamp or heat mat.
If your vivarium is too cold, your pet may suffer from severe health problems such as colds, hypothermia, or even death.
On the other hand, if your vivarium is too hot, your snake may overheat, which is also bad for its health.
Because of those reasons, your enclosure must have a temperature gradient. This means that you should create a “cool zone” and a “heat zone” inside the enclosure for your corn snake.
You can do this by placing the heat source on one end of the vivarium and leaving the other end cool. This gives your corn snake the ability to slither around and regulate its body temperature.
Another thing to keep in mind is to keep your enclosure away from other heat sources and drafts. These external factors can have an impact on the temperature inside your tank.
You can use thermometers that you can move around the enclosure to monitor the temperature of your tank effectively. A thermometer gun is an example of what snake keepers typically use.
Light is an important factor in the biological clock of your corn snake. Without an appropriate light cycle inside your tank, they can become stressed and lethargic.
Since you’ll definitely be placing your vivarium indoors, you’ll need to recreate your corn snake’s day and night pattern artificially. Your goal is a normal circadian rhythm for your pet.
As a light source, you can use incandescent light bulbs. They come in a variety of wattages that can give your tank the correct brightness.
Corn snakes are diurnal, meaning they’re most active during the day. As a result, you must leave your light source on during the day for 12 hours and turn it off at night.
You can use red or purple light lamps to keep an eye on your pet snake even at night.
Red and purple lights won’t disturb your corn snake’s sleep because they have dichromatic vision. This means that they can only see two primary colors, which are blue and green.
A “photo gradient” within your vivarium is also a good idea. You should make some areas of your tank brighter and others darker to mimic the corn snake’s natural environment.
You need to make sure, though, that your temperature gradient and light gradient align. The darker area inside the tank must be cooler and far from your heat source.
The substrate refers to the flooring material inside your tank. The best materials to use for your snake’s substrate are those found in their natural environment.
For snakes that come from dry environments, such as corn snakes, most owners recommend aspen shavings. Professional breeders and veteran keepers also use aspen as flooring because it’s soft and can conceal odors well.
If you have a juvenile (young) corn snake, you’ll need 2 to 3 inches of aspen bedding to allow it to burrow. A mature corn snake, on the other hand, needs thicker aspen flooring to feel at ease.
Cypress mulch is also one of the most commonly recommended substrate materials for corn snakes. Cypress has the advantage of being able to keep moisture well, being inexpensive, and lasting a long time.
Dry leaves, some stone, and dead bark are excellent additions to your tank flooring if you want to create a more natural-looking environment as well.
Apart from providing food, your tank must also have fresh, clean drinking water available. For that purpose, you must put a dish of water inside your vivarium.
Make sure, however, that you place it on the cooler end of the tank. This is to ensure that the water remains cold so that your corn snake can use it to bathe and cool its body temperature.
Additionally, you need to refill your enclosure’s water daily. If you catch your corn snake fouling the water, replace the water immediately.
Enrichments are when you give your pet snake a chance to behave naturally as if it’s in a wild habitat.
The purpose of this is to improve your pet’s well-being and reduce stress by giving them mental and physical stimulation.
You can add tree branches to your tank as an enrichment. Although, keep in mind that if you’re using real branches, you need to sterilize them in boiling water before placing them in the tank.
Another option is to include hiding places within your corn snake enclosure. Snakes enjoy hiding and coiling inside small spaces, and they’d love it if you had any in your tank.
Hide spots in your tank should be large enough for your corn snake, and they should be located at the warm and cool ends of your vivarium. This would let your snake regulate its body temperature without making it feel insecure.
Snakes don’t have the concept of playing. Nonetheless, you can still give your corn snake interesting ways to pass the time inside its tank.
In its natural habitat, your corn snake’s environment changes frequently. With that in mind, you can try changing your tank’s accessories once in a while.
You can do this every time you’re cleaning the enclosure. Change the positions of rocks, hides, barks, grasses, and branches that you placed inside.
Changing and rearranging the things inside the tank will make for an interesting activity for your corn snake. It would motivate it to explore and move around inside the vivarium.
However, always remember to sterilize vivarium accessories when you’re swapping them. This would ensure that no harmful viruses, bacteria, insects, or fungi could enter your tank.
As corn snakes are active hunters, they tend to explore and search for prey. Their strong sense of smell is their primary instrument for locating potential food.
Instead of placing the food within your snake’s line of sight as most snake keepers tend to do, you can try hiding it in spots around the enclosure instead.
This will be a good enrichment exercise, as well as physical and mental activity, for your corn snake. Make sure, though, to leave traces of the prey’s smell on the things around the vivarium.
Once your corn snake gets a whiff of the food, it will surely go on the hunt for it!
Your corn snake requires proper humidity for a variety of reasons. Extremely high or low humidity levels can cause serious health issues for your pet.
One example of a health problem that high humidity can bring is that it can cause their scales to rot. Scale rotting is a bacterial infection that can lead to death for reptiles if you left it untreated.
On the other hand, too little humidity can result in dehydration and shedding issues such as Dysecdysis. Organ failure can quickly follow dehydration that may endanger your pet’s life.
Because of these safety and health concerns, a good ventilation system is required to prevent bacterial buildup inside the enclosure.
The ideal humidity level for your corn snake tank should always be between 40% and 50%. That said, you can use a hygrometer to observe the water vapor level inside your enclosure.
Finally, if you’re having trouble controlling the humidity inside your tank, you should consider using a humidifier. This device will monitor and regulate the humidity level in your corn snake tank automatically.
Whether you’ve had a corn snake as a pet before or not, it’s critical to meet all of its needs within the four walls of its enclosure.
So, what do corn snakes need in their tank?
To briefly recap, your corn snake requires a secure and properly ventilated enclosure, correct heat and light gradients, appropriate bedding, clean water, and enrichment activities.
If you read and follow everything we discussed in this post, your slithery pet will be safe and comfortable in no time.
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.