Corn snake feeding

What do corn snakes eat?

Wild corn snakes live on a varied diet including small rodents and amphibians. Adult corn snakes kept in captivity live on a diet of mice and rat pups. Day old chicks can also be fed.

The food should either be freshly killed or frozen and then fully defrosted at room temperature (not in the microwave). It is vitally important that the food is fresh — if not then it can rot in the snake's stomach.

Pam Mansfield, founder of the Exotic Pet Refuge in Market Deeping, Cambridgeshire, recommends feeding your corn snake outside of the vivarium in a safe, secure plastic box. This will help to stop your corn snake from ingesting its own substrate as it eats.

An adult corn snake may only eat once a fortnight, especially if he eats a lot in one meal. It’s common for them to do this, perhaps taking three or four mice in one feed then being content for a fortnight afterwards. This mimics their diet in the wild, when they would commonly raid a nest, eat a large amount at one time, then not eat again for several weeks. If your adult snake only takes one or two mice during a feed, he is likely to need feeding again quite quickly.

Pam says: “You will be able to tell whether or not your snake is hungry again as he will most likely be up at the glass trying to get out. It is important that you offer food to your corn snake using tweezers in order to avoid being bitten during the process of feeding."

Wash any surfaces that food has come into contact with, as well as your hands, to avoid the risk of picking up or spreading bacteria such as salmonella.

Juvenile corn snakes will need to be fed on pinkie (baby) mice and will need more regular feeding while they are growing rapidly. Juveniles should be fed at least once a week, depending on the amount they eat in one meal.

A vitamin supplement containing calcium and other minerals will need to be fed regularly. This can be administered by creating a hole and inserting the supplement into the skin of one of your snake's food items, or it can be added to the water.

Water should be provided at all times in a heavy-bottomed bowl that cannot be tipped over. Avoid handling your corn snake for two days after feeding as this may cause regurgitation.

Why isn't my corn snake eating? 

A corn snake may refuse his food if he is:

  • Beginning his shedding cycle

  • If he has recently been fed and is not hungry

  • If he is dehydrated

  • When agitated due to over handling

  • If he is not warm enough

  • If the food is not warm enough

  • If the scent of the prey has been lost due to being defrosted in hot water

  • If your snake has a digestive problem or illness

  • If the food is too large

  • If the environment the snake is kept in has changed, causing nervousness.

Pet care advice