Choosing a Corn Snake Vivarium
Corn snakes are the ideal pet snake for beginners: they are docile, hardy and thrive in captivity, and come in a variety of beautiful colour morphs. Like most snakes they are fairly shy and will typically spend alot of time hiding, although many enjoy being handled outside the vivarium. Corn snakes are extremely docile and rarely bite (with the exception of hatchlings which can be ‘nippy’ for their first few weeks). Whilst they are among the easiest snakes to keep, corn snakes do have specific needs that carers should pay attention to if they want a healthy and happy pet.
Corn snakes are agoraphobic as hatchlings and will be happiest in a small corn snake vivarium - somewhere between 900 and 1,400 sq cm is best, as they may be unwilling to feed in larger areas until they become more confident. As they grow larger - adults reach up to 1,800cm in length - you should gradually increase the size of the enclosure to give your pet room to something which is at least 3ft long.
The internal surfaces of your vivarium should be made from non-porous materials such as glass, plastic or coated wood to deter the growth of mould. Sliding front-facing doors are preferred over an opening lid, as snakes may become nervous when they are approached from above - this type of vivarium also makes it easier to stack enclosures if you decide to buy another snake in the future. Corn snakes are also excellent escape artists (personal testimony), and have been known to push open the lids of their enclosures! You should therefore consider picking up a cheap rubber wedge to wedge the glass shut (available from any good pet shop).
It is also very important to get a heat mat that covers no more than one-half to one-third of the floor area of the vivarium. As cold-blooded animals, snakes rely upon the external environment to control their body temperature and therefore need a habitat that has both warm and cool areas to move between and maintain optimum body temperature. Hot rocks are strictly forbidden for corn snakes (and any other reptiles) as they get too hot, do not provide a stable temperature and cause burns.
The floor of the vivarium should ideally be covered in specialist reptile substrates or an Astroturf like carpet available from pet shops - avoid cedar or pine chippings as they can be toxic to small animals. Corn snakes like to have places to hide, so put a few artificial logs or terracotta pots with holes in the top around the enclosure. There are also plenty of specialist snake hides you can buy from pet shops which are ideal for corn snakes. Make sure the hide is “cosy” so to speak, your snake will thank you for the security.
For more information about corn snakes, see our comprehensive care sheet.