Feeding Your Corn Snake
Corn Snakes are carnivores, which means that they need a diet of whole animal prey to get the nutrition that their bodies need. The size of your snake’s prey should be no more than 1.5x the width of your Corn Snake’s body at its widest point or roughly 10% of its body weight. If your snake is in between feeder sizes, you may need to offer two smaller prey items to equal the total weight of the larger prey item. Use forceps or tongs to reduce the risk of being bitten when your snake strikes. Check out our main Corn Snake Care Guide here!
What Types of Food Are Not Safe For A Corn Snake To Eat?
Corn Snakes are obligate carnivores and require complete nutrition in each meal. Since they eat whole prey infrequently rather than a variety of different sources of nutrients frequently, it is important that they receive all of their nutrition in each meal. Corn Snakes should not be fed food items that are incomplete. Some examples of incomplete meals would be pieces of meat and food scraps. Even if your Corn Snake is a voracious eater and would accept incomplete diets, you should stick to the numerous whole-prey options to offer variety and complete nutrition.
Your Corn Snake’s food should be stored completely frozen and not allowed to thaw until the day of feeding. Harmful bacteria can grow on their prey if left out for extended periods of time or allowed to thaw and refreeze. This means if your Corn Snake refuses a meal, you should dispose of the prey rather than refreezing it. To properly thaw prey, you should allow them to sit overnight in the refrigerator and then bring them up to lukewarm temperature in warm water when it is time to feed. You can also use warm water to thaw entirely but it is important to make sure the prey is thawed all the way through before feeding. Never microwave whole prey, it can cause the prey to explode in the microwave or cause the internal temperature of the prey to heat unevenly which can burn your snake.
How Often Do You Feed A Corn Snake?
How often Corn Snakes need to eat depends on age:
- Hatchlings 8-20″ long — every 5-7 days
- Juveniles 20-45″ long — every 7-10 days
- Subadults 35-50″ long — every 10-12 days
- Adults >35″ long — every 14-21 days
If your snake seems to be getting fat, reduce the frequency of feedings or the size of the feeders.
How to Add Variation To Your Corn Snakes Diet
Although mice are the most common feeders, you can feed a variety of foods to your snake to allow them to thrive. The key to providing a healthy, balanced diet for your pet snake is VARIETY. Provide as varied of a diet as you possibly can, and you will be rewarded with a healthier, less picky pet! Prey ideas for Corn Snakes are:
- Young rats
- Young quail
- Quail eggs
- Green anoles
- House Geckos
It’s best to offer frozen-thawed prey rather than live to your pet snake. This is safer for the snake and generally considered to be more humane as well. All food items should be from captive sources (not wild caught) to avoid exposing your pets to contamination such as pesticides.
Supplements For Corn Snake Diets
Snakes can survive without vitamin or mineral supplements but using them occasionally is a good way to help ensure your snake does not have any nutritional gaps. Every once in a while, lightly dust the prey item with a 50/50 mix of calcium and multivitamin before thawing. Another great way to “supplement” your snake is by offering full spectrum and UVB lighting. Learn more about the benefits of offering your snake access to UV and full spectrum lighting in our Complete Corn Snake Lighting and Heating Guide here!
What Types of Food Should A Young Corn Snake Eat?
Young Corn Snakes are fed newborn pinky mice due to their small size. As they grow, you can offer a variety of different size-appropriate food choices.
How Much Water Does A Corn Snake Need?
Corn Snakes should have a large bowl of water available at all times. A large water dish will help to keep humidity in the enclosure high and allows your snake to soak if they desire. A soaking snake can be a sign of low humidity, poor shed, or snake mites, so ensure husbandry is up to par if you notice your snake soaking often!
Water offered should be dechlorinated tap (using a dechlorinator such as ReptiSafe), filtered, spring, or reverse osmosis. Do not use distilled water as the distilling process removes all minerals from the water and can lead to osmotic imbalance in your snake as their body pulls electrolytes and minerals from their system to make up for the lack of minerals in the water. Over time, this can lead to dehydration of your animal even if they are regularly drinking.