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   FAQ           Click on question number for answer

(1)What is a corn snake?

(2)  What is their temperament?

(3)  How many colors do corn snakes come in?

(4)  How long do corn snakes grow?

(5) How do I feed my new baby corn snake?

(6)  How do you get stubborn hatchlings to feed?

(7)  What can I do about partial shedding of its skin?

(8)  At what age is a corn snake sexually mature?

(9)  How can I tell the sex of my snake?

(10) How often do I feed my corn snake?

(11) Should I buy a baby or an adult snake?

(12) At what temperature do corn snakes need to be kept?

(13) Does my snake have to have a hide box?

(14) How do I know what size mouse to give to my snake?

(15) Are corn snakes easy to handle?

(16) Can I keep two corn snakes together?

(17) What time of the year do corn snakes breed?

(18) How long after a female snake is bred does it take before she lays her eggs?

(19) Can I breed my corn snake twice in one summer?

(20) How can I stop my corn snake from rubbing its nose on the cage?

(21) How do I incubate the eggs?

(22) How many eggs do corn snakes lay?

(23) Can I use wood shavings in my cage?

(24) How can I tell if a pair of snakes have bred if I leave them together over night?

(25) How can I tell when she is about to lay her eggs?

(26) What is a good kind of cage to keep baby corn snakes in?

(27) What kind of nest box does she need in which to lay her eggs?

(28) What can I do for a corn snake that has been bitten by a mouse?

(29) What can I do for a snake with mouth rot?

(30) What can I do for a corn snake that is wheezing and sneezing?


Answers

What is a Corn Snake

(1) Corn snakes are medium sized, non-venomous constrictors that is in the large common snake family Colubridae, which includes milks, waters, garters, racers, pines, bulls, and king snakes. Their scientific name is Elaphe guttata.

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Temperament

(2) The disposition of individual adult corn snakes can range from fair to excellent with very good to excellent being the norm. Babies and wild caught animals may bite, but time in captivity will almost always eliminate this.

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How many colors

(3) Corn snakes come in a dazzling array of color morphs and at the present time, there are over 40 different color morphs with new ones showing up each year.

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How long

(4) Corn snakes are relatively small, rarely exceeding five feet in length.

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How do I feed

(5) The most appropriate food for hatchling corn snakes are pinkies (newborn  mice). Once acclimated, hatchling corn snakes can consume mice every two to five days with the size of the feeder animals increasing as the snakes grow. Some guidelines when trying to feed baby corn snakes include:  (a) Be sure to keep the snake warm. (b) Place the hatchling in a small enough container so that it will readily encounter the intended meal.

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Stubborn hatching

(6)  (a) Place a pinky mouse with the hatchling for a few hours. If uneaten, replace for a while with a dead pinky. (b) Wash a pinky in soap and water, rinse, and dry. Then present to the hatchling. Try live, then a dead one. Washing apparently can remove some scent that can inhibit eating by some hatchling snakes. (c) Rub a pinky with a small lizard such as  anoles to transfer some of the scent. (d) Place a moistened section of a skin or shed skin from a lizard on the head and back of a pre-killed pinky. A lizard kept frozen can be a good source of bits of skin.

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Shedding problems

(7) Problems with shedding may arise if a cage has too little humidity or if a snake is particularly late in trying to start the removal process. Under such circumstances, the skin that is due to come off becomes difficult to separate from the underlying skin and shedding may be incomplete or may result in many torn pieces. Soaking a snake in water for a while or leaving a snake over night in a damp, cloth sack with moss in it can make it easier for either the snake or the keeper to peel off the remaining skin. You should always supply your snake with a water bowl large enough that it can soak itself in.

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Sexual maturity

(8) Captive raised corn snakes are generally capable of reproducing in the second year after they hatch, though some may take until their third year. The minimum size of a sexually mature corn snake is about three feet long and many corn snakes will exceed this by the age of two years.

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Sexing snakes

(9) Adult corn snakes are easily sexed by examining the underside of the tails. The tails of females begin to taper immediately or almost immediately after the vent. The tails of males remain virtually untapered until well behind the vent. Males also have somewhat longer tails relative to their size. Hatchlings are sexed by a method called popping. This is done by applying a modest amount of pressure on the underside of the base of the tail with one's thumb. This pressure is applied both downward and forward and is best done by rolling one's thumb forward over  the base of the tail. This will evert the twin hemipenes of baby males. Females are distinguished by a failure to evert hemipenes. This technique takes a little practice. Probing can also be used to determine the sex of corn snakes of all ages, but should be taught by a person with experience.

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How often do I feed

(10) A newborn pinky mouse or at least one that is at least five days old, is enough for a meal for a 12 inch youngster. Baby corn snakes will eat every four to five days. An adult corn snake needs one to two adult mice per week to maintain good health.

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Baby or adult

(11) Buying hatchlings or juvenile corn snakes has certain advantages over buying adults. They will typically be less expensive than an adult and will generally be of  known age and potentially live longer than adults. Additionally, one can also get a certain satisfaction from raising a hatchling to adulthood.

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What temperature

(12) Corn snakes, especially young ones, should have daily access to temperatures between 80 degrees and 85 degrees in order to do well. A good method of heating is the use of quality undertank heating pads. Access to warm areas are critically important to the health of your snake. Appropriate heating is required for proper digestion and the efficient functioning of the immune system.

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Hide box

(13) Corn snakes, like most snakes, like to feel secure in their environment. One way of providing for this need is to put hide boxes in the enclosure. Hide boxes can be made of anything as long as the snake can completely fit inside the area and hide itself from view. A hide box should be placed both on the warm end and the cool end of the cage so that the animal can feel secure in any spot. Corn snakes kept without appropriate hiding areas become stressed and may refuse to eat.

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Size mouse

(14) A good rule of thumb is to feed the snake a food item that is the same size or close to the snake's diameter. Feed an item that is too large and the snake will often regurgitate it. Snakes will also regurgitate if they do not have a warm area or if they are handled too soon after they eat.

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Handling

(15) Corn snakes are among the most easily handled and most recommended of all pet snakes. Adult corn snakes in captivity are typically calm and rather slow moving animals that are readily handled  without any of the biting, thrashing around, and defecating or musking that is sometimes seen in other snakes.

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2 Snakes

(16) Keeping two corn snakes together is fine, but you should always separate them at feeding time. If two corn snakes seize the same mouse, whether alive or frozen, they will instantly wrap around both the mouse and one another. A corn snake will not normally release its jaws from an intended meal that it is constricting until after the prey has ceased moving. If two snakes have the same mouse, each will feel the other struggling and both will tenaciously refuse to release their grip. Prevent this from happening at all cost. 

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Breeding season

(17) Corn snakes' breeding season begins right after their first post-hibernation shedding of skin, which is in the very early spring, depending upon what part of the country you live.

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How long to lay

(18) Corn snakes generally lay their eggs from 31 to 45 days after mating, averaging about 39 days. However, if the female is not ovulating at the time she is bred, she saves the sperm until she does ovulate. This will affect the number of days it takes until she lays the eggs.

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2 Clutches

(19) Yes, but laying eggs is a taxing experiencing for female corn snakes. One clutch of eggs will typically reduce a female's body weight by a third. If a female double clutches in a particular year, her weight after laying the second clutch may be less than half her peak weight earlier in the year. You should only breed an older or a snake with good body weight twice in one summer.

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Nose rubbing

(20) Nose rubbing is a fairly frequent injury among some snake species and a damaged nose caused by excessive rubbing on the walls or top of a cage is an attempt to get out of a cage. Although corn snakes in general, do not appear to be very prone to severe nose rubbing problems. I have seen a few juveniles that were kept in plastic shoe boxes without a hide box develop white, swollen noses from rubbing. This problem is solved by moving the animal into more spacious cages containing one or more hide boxes.

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Incubating

(21) You should take the eggs from the female as soon as she has completed laying her eggs and put them in a container like a plastic shoe box. These work well because they completely close to reduce the drying effect of breezes. Only a few scattered pinholes in the lid are needed to let enough oxygen in so that the eggs can breathe. Many materials work adequately as incubation media. My personal favorite is coarse vermiculite which I combine with equal parts of water. Then I take the vermiculite and squeeze the water out and place it in the nest box up to about half the box. You then  place the eggs in the vermiculite in the same position in which they were layed. Never rotate the eggs. Keep the eggs at about 82 degrees until they hatch. Eggs hatch in times varying from 50 to 100 days, the average being 65 days at 82 degrees.

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How many eggs

(22) A young female in her first year may only lay as little as five or six eggs. Many lay more in their first year. An older corn snake may lay as many as 40 to 50 eggs.

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Wood shavings

(23) I personally do not recommend pine shavings because they cause excessive drying of dermal tissues and can cause serious internal intestinal blockage if swallowed. Acceptable substrates include reptile bark, newspaper, paper towels, and Astroturf. I personally use several layers of newspaper because it is very absorbent and can easily be replaced quickly. This substrate, while not particularly attractive, allows one to keep the cage very clean by continuously replacing the soiled paper.

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Left together

(24) This can be a rather simple matter, by using plain paper or newsprint as a cage substrate because it can be inspected for semen after the mating attempt since a small, yellowish, viscous spillage nearly always follows a successful breeding episode. This sperm spill is more noticeable on paper than mulch and is easy to look for on the following day.

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Time to lay

(25) Her appetite will slacken or quit completely as she approaches prenatal shed which is a clue that egg laying will occur in about 10 to 14 days after her first shed since she was bred.

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Baby cages

(26) Plastic shoe boxes make ideal starter cages for baby corn snakes. They are inexpensive and are readily available at retail stores. The lids either snap down securely or can be held tight with a weight placed upon them. These cages can house a baby corn snake comfortably for a half year or longer depending upon the growth rate or until it attains a length of 18 to 20 inches.

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Nest box

(27) I use plastic shoe boxes with snap-on lids for my nest box needs. They are moisture-proof and also allow easy visual checking without removing the snake. A single, round entrance hole, about twice the female's widest diameter is cut in the top of a box. You can use moistened sphagnum moss or moistened vermiculite as a laying media in the nest box.

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Bitten by mouse

(28) First, never leave a live rodent unsupervised with your snake, but if you do have a snake that has been bitten by a mouse, you should first clean such wounds with a water flush and then apply a broad-spectrum antimicrobial liquid mix comprised of hydrogen peroxide (diluted 50/50 with water) and betadine added to achieve the color of weak, iced tea. Use immediately and discard the remainder. Afterwards, apply an antibiotic such as Neosporin cream to speed healing.

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Mouth Rot

(29) Mouth rot is quite curable, but requires persistence on the keeper's part. Mild cases of mouth rot may be treated topically with Listerine or hydrogen peroxide and betadine solution, mixing hydrogen peroxide and water 50/50 and add betadine until the color of the solution resembles weakened, iced tea. Apply with a cotton swab to the affected area twice daily. Do not apply liberal amounts of either liquid in order to avoid ingestion. In more severe cases, you should call a qualified reptile veterinarian for a bacterial culture and the appropriate antibiotic.

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Wheezing

(30) It is possible to treat a mild respiratory infection at home by providing a warm, dry environment. You should raise the temperature to the high end of the snake's preferred temperature range, around 89 to 92 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the equivalent of giving it an artificial fever to help it fight germs and eliminate all possible stresses. The sick snake should be isolated in a separate cage or if possible, a separate room to avoid spreading the problem. A trip to the veterinarian for a bacterial culture and an antibiotic is recommended for more serious or stubborn cases.

 

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