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Why Won’t My Corn Snake Eat? (7 Common Reasons)

Why Won’t My Corn Snake Eat? (7 Common Reasons)

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The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

It can be such a worrying experience if your pet loses appetite, and you must be wondering: why won’t my corn snake eat?

There are many reasons for your corn snake’s diminishing appetite. Some of those reasons are completely normal, while others are alarming signs.

Generally, snakes can go for months without eating since their digestion process needs time. Other times, though, your little friend might be ill.

Do you want to find out more? In today’s article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about why your pet corn snake isn’t eating and what you can do about it, so let’s dive in.

Why Won’t My Corn Snake Eat?

Usually, snakes not eating isn’t cause for worry since it could just be a part of their natural life cycle.

Still, there might be a serious cause for your pet’s refusal to eat. That’s why you should understand the underlying cause.

1 – Molting

The most common reason why your snake won’t eat is molting.

Snakes regularly shed their skin to grow fresher skin in a process known as molting, and corn snakes aren’t exempt from this process. In fact, it’s crucial for them to molt so that their skin remains bright and shiny.

In the weeks leading up to molting, it’s natural for your pet to lose his appetite. Additionally, the reptile’s skin will become pale, and his eyes might even turn milky-blue.

2 – Gravidity

If you suspect your reptile pet is pregnant, one of the first signs would be eating far less than normal.

You might also notice a lump in your pet’s midsection. Plus, the corn snake will also be avoidant and might prefer cooler temperatures.

Luckily, their gestation period is 30 to 45 days. So, your reptile friend should return to normal afterward.

3 – Already Ate

If you’re new to keeping snakes, it might shock you to find out that they don’t eat that often. Surprisingly, they only need to eat about once a week to survive.

So, while you might find this behavior concerning, your corn snake could be completely fine.

Snakes typically take about three to five days to digest their food. So naturally, they’ll still be too full if they’ve recently eaten.

For that reason, you really shouldn’t offer your reptile pet any food within 24 hours of the last meal. Otherwise, it’ll just be a waste.

4 – Inadequate Food

Feeding your snakes can be a pain since they can refuse to eat anything that’s too cold. In other words, they need live prey to eat!

However, when giving your little reptile live prey, you should monitor it closely to ensure your snake doesn’t get injured. Since this can be too much, you can offer your pet freshly killed prey instead.

The size of the prey also matters. For example, you shouldn’t give your snake an animal that’s too wide, like rabbits or chickens.

Furthermore, some corn snakes can be picky. So, they might refuse to eat food that has fur or certain types of insects.

5 – Temperature

Snakes require their tank to be on the warm side. This way, they can digest their food properly.

If the tank is too cold, the digestion process can take longer. So, your corn snake will still be too full to eat more.

This effect is more evident during winter. Yet, you can easily fix this by keeping the tank’s temperature at about 85°F, and the appetite will hopefully increase.

6 – Environmental Reasons

Surprisingly, the reason why your corn snake isn’t eating can be related to the environment it’s living in.

Unsuitable Substrate

Your corn snake might be feeling a little uncomfortable on the substrate you provided. After all, the little fellow, just like any reptile, needs the right bedding in his home.

So, if you’ve recently changed the type of substrate, that could be the issue.

Day and Night Cycle

Some snakes require a certain day and night cycle to thrive. When it comes to corn snakes, they don’t need any lights at nighttime.

In fact, having a light bulb at night can mess up your pet’s day/night cycle. That can cause a good deal of health issues to your reptile, including loss of appetite.

7 – Health Concerns

Loss of appetite can be a cause for concern, especially if the problem doesn’t seem to be any of the above. Still, it can be hard to figure out your pet’s illness.

That’s why if you’ve tried everything to get your corn snake to eat, and it’s still not eating, you should consult a reptile vet immediately.

When Should You Be Worried About a Corn Snake Not Eating?

Sure, a corn snake not eating might be a normal occurrence. Still, there are some telltale signs that you need to be on the lookout for.


First, your reptile might be dehydrated or constipated. In this case, you’ll notice bloating on the lower third of the body.

This might be simple indigestion that you can easily treat by giving your little friend a warm bath. Alternatively, it could be an intestinal blockage that requires surgery.

Intestinal Parasites

Since corn snakes don’t really eat the highest quality food, they’re prone to parasites like intestinal worms.

Your pet might vomit, have diarrhea, or you might even notice the parasites in the reptile’s feces.

Mouth Rot

Mouth rot, also known as infectious stomatitis, is a common condition that affects reptiles. It can lead to severe complications, so it’s best to spot it early.

Since the loss of appetite is a symptom of mouth rot, you should monitor your pet reptile closely for other signs. This way, you’ll be able to treat the disease before it progresses.

If you notice redness, swelling, dead tissue, or pus around the snake’s nose and mouth, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Many other conditions might cause unbalanced appetites with pet corn snakes. Generally, you should be worried if you notice any of the following symptoms as well:

  • Vomiting
  • Runny nose
  • Weight loss
  • Breathing problems
  • Lack of coordination

What to Do If Your Corn Snake Won’t Eat?

Unless your corn snakes are suffering from an illness, the lack of appetite shouldn’t be a concern. In fact, they can go for three months without eating at all!

Still, you probably want your pet reptile to be as comfortable as possible. So, here are some ways to aid your friend with their lack of appetite.


First, you should make sure the tank conditions are optimal. Your corn snake should be kept at 70° to 85°F.

If your tank is too cold, you can add a heating lamp. Make sure the tank has adequate ventilation, and the air isn’t too dry.

Additionally, the tank should be comfortable to avoid getting your reptile stressed out. To achieve this, you can fill your tank with plants and vines, so your little friend can curl around them.


Since corn snakes can be picky, you should ensure your pet gets the best diet. Even if you’re feeding your reptile a killed prey, you should always defrost it to room temperature.

The reason is that they like to feel like they caught the prey themselves. So, frozen food just doesn’t appeal to them.

To avoid dehydration and constipation, you should provide your snake with fresh, cool water.

Final Thoughts

Why won’t my corn snake eat?

Well, if your snake is molting or gravid, lack of appetite is entirely normal.

Furthermore, your little buddy might just be picky about food. Generally, snakes only eat once every few days and like their food fresh and warm.

You can quickly get your pet reptile to eat by ensuring the tank is warm and comfortable. Moreover, you can offer your picky friend different meal options.

However, if you notice that your snake is lethargic, inflamed, or has abnormal behavior, don’t hesitate to contact your reptile vet.

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