Corn snakes, also known as red rat snakes, are a popular pet breed of snake. They are typically orange or brown in color with blotches running down their backs. They also have black and white markings running down their bellies. It is thought that the name “corn snake” could have come from these markings, which somewhat resemble Indian corn kernels.
If you are considering buying a corn snake, you may be wondering what, how much, and how often to feed your snake. In this article, we will answer all of those questions to ensure that you are fully prepared to feed your snake when you bring him home.
What Do Corn Snakes Eat?
Corn snakes are carnivores that eat a wide variety of animals like rats, mice, birds, or even bats in the wild. The type of prey you feed to your snake should be catered somewhat to your snake’s age and size. Prey that is about the same width or one and a half times the width of your snake is appropriate. Accordingly, a hatchling corn snake can handle a pinkie mouse, or newborn mouse, whereas adult corn snakes can handle adult mice.
You can purchase frozen rodents for your corn snake to eat. Most of the time, corn snakes will not have a problem eating frozen prey, but if it won’t eat frozen mice, you can feed it live mice. If you do feed live prey to your corn snake, make sure to monitor your snake’s enclosure carefully as live rodents can scratch and sometimes injure your snake in the process of feeding.
How Often Should I Feed My Corn Snake?
Unlike other pets, you don’t need to feed your corn snake every day. In fact, you can usually go several days without feeding your snake, though the exact amount of time depends on how old he is. For hatchlings, you should plan to feed about once every 5-7 days. For juvenile snakes, you can feed every seven to 10 days. Finally, adult corn snakes only need to be fed about one time every 10 to 14 days.
You can keep track of whether or not the feeding schedule is working for your snake by weighing him regularly. For adult snakes, you want to maintain, not increase, weight. If you find that your adult snake is consistently gaining weight, you can cut back on the amount of food or the frequency of feedings.
Tips For Feeding
When handling your snake’s food, use tongs or tweezers to reduce the risk of being bitten when you give it to your snake. You can choose to either feed your snake in its enclosure or in another area such as a feeding tub. The benefit of using a feeding tub is that you can train your snake to expect food when you move him. Conversely, your snake will learn not to expect food when you put your hand in his enclosure, making it less likely that he will bite you when you do so.
Corn snakes are generally not picky eaters, making them easy to feed and good for beginners. However, you may occasionally get a snake that is a reluctant feeder. There are a few things you can do in this case. Try to spend less time handling your snake. If you pick your snake up too often, he can become stressed, which can make him less interested in eating. You could also try feeding your snake when it is dark. Although they are typically active during the day, some snake owners find that their corn snakes prefer to eat when it is dark. Finally, if you find that your snake simply is not interested in the prey you offer him, you might want to experiment with feeding your snake different species. You can try giving your snake frogs, lizards, birds, gerbils, or hamsters to see if he will bite.
Corn snakes are great beginner pets because they are typically easy to feed and eat a wide variety of prey, making them relatively low-maintenance. Just remember to feed them the right amount in order to keep them healthy and increase their longevity.
Featured Image Credit: Phofun, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.