If you are planning to switch from petting domesticated animal to mollycoddling reptiles, then corn snake absolutely suits you. Pantherophis guttatus, also known as rat snake, is one of the most popular pet snakes because of their docile nature.
Corn snake has an important ecological role in nature because it acts as both predator and prey. This helpful reptile hunts rodent pests that damage crops and spread disease.
It can grow up to 6 feet long and has a lifespan of 6-8 years in the wild but in captivity, with proper care, its maximum life expectancy is 23 years or more.
All About the Cost of Corn Snakes
This article will provide the whole kit and caboodle about petting a corn snake. From the cost of buying a corn snake to all the recurring expenses, this can help you out.
We will also tackle some useful tips and need-to-know as a future corn snake owner. Moreover, this can also be your guide in terms of corn snakes’ common health issue, feeding, habitat maintenance, reproduction, grooming, and hygiene.
One Time Costs
Astonishingly, corn snakes are very easy to buy; there are plenty of stores selling this species. You can check local reptile stores, local reptile clubs, reputable breeders, and even online shops.
Corn snake prices range from $30-$700 depending on its length and morph. Other morphs are more expensive which can cost more than $1,000.
However, there is a special law for some States regarding the custody of corn snakes.
In Georgia, they have a list of nonvenomous snakes that are illegal to kill, capture or harass. Unfortunately, corn snake is part of the list. While in New Jersey, you can only purchase certain morphs such as Albino, Butter, Snow, Lavender, Blizzard, Creamsicle, and Candy Cane.
Once you have decided how much you are willing to spend in purchasing a corn snake you also need to consider the following:
- Shelter Cost and Accessories
Glass Aquarium – It is essential for corn snakes to live in an enclosed container with a proper lid. Snakes are known for being sneaky so it is a must that their house is escaping-resistant. Look for a clear 20-gallon glass aquarium with at least 90cm in length and 30 – 45 cm tall. For the lid you can use a sturdy screen tank top for $15, this is suitable for ventilation. Glass aquarium cost $120 or more depending on the size.
Hiding Place – Since they are not in their natural habitat, having a hiding place is a necessity so they can get away from captivity to avoid being stress. You can use an ordinary rock or wood but if it’s not available you can buy artificial hiding area, it only cost around $20. Place the hiding house near the heat pad to make them more comfortable.
Branch and Décor – You might also want to add a branch or any decor to climb on so that they will feel homier. It can also help for exercise and stimulate their natural behavior. You can have this for $11 or more depending on the design and quality.
Beddings – For these, you can put aspen shavings because they are natural and odorless. You can also use coconut fiber bedding or reptile bark, cypress mulch reduced sphagnum moss. Avoid using sticky wood mulch such as bark, cedar, pine, fir, and walnut. They have toxic scent and oil that are hazardous to snakes in captivity. A bag of substrate range from $10 to $20 and it can last 4-6 weeks.
As a substitute bedding, you can also use newspaper or paper towels. In case you have chosen to use reptile carpet, it is inevitable to always keep it clean. You can purchase two so you can interchange them while you’re cleaning the other. Reptile mats range from $8 to $30 depending on the size.
Water bowl – Place a large bowl of 100% chlorine-free water on the cool side of the tank. It is helpful for misting once or twice a day. However, do not mist two hours before turning the heat pad or heat bulb for the day.
Any water that you will use for corn snake should always be chlorine-free. If it’s inaccessible, you can use any kind of bottled water but avoid using distilled water as it can cause health problem due to its lack of minerals essential for body function. In case all of these are not available, you can give tap water that has been left stand for 24 hours.
Soaking in 68-70 degrees warm water is beneficial to a snake. Fill any container that fits the corn snake then soak it at least half an hour every once a week
- Temperature and Lighting
Humidity – When it comes to humidity, just maintain a certain level wherein it is not too wet or too dry. To control humidity cover the main ventilation area using a newspaper. It helps to reduce or increase moisture loss by evaporation. You can also purchase a hydrometer to measure the moisture. There are a dual humidity gauge and thermometer which only cost $11.
Light and Temperature – Nothing is better than a natural light from the sun. To achieve a healthy sunlight, put your pet near the window. Just make sure that your corn snake is not directly exposed. To keep it healthy, provide 8-12 hours of light daily. If the sunlight doesn’t reach the corn snake, a special UVA/UVB bulb can be an alternative. It costs $13-$40.
The recommended radiant heat is 85°F in warm side and 75°F in cool side. Climate control is very vital to corn snake’s health. It may suffer digestion problem if the temperature is not appropriate.
Snakes need a heating source to regulate their body temperature. A heat source can either be heating pad underneath their beddings or overhead heat bulbs. Place the heat pad or heat bulb on one side of the cage so that the corn has a choice of microclimate. To maintain the recommended radiant climate, place a thermometer on each side of the tank. You can buy a heat pad for $15 and a heat bulb for $3.
What Do You Get for the Price of Corn Snakes?
Unlike other pets purchased from the pet shop, there are no freebies when buying a corn snake. It is necessary to buy all the needed items for the corn snake’s shelter. You can complete your shopping list in just a day or two from reptile suppliers.
On the other hand, when you buy a terrarium on pet shop or online, you can purchase a complete set that costs $150, which has everything you need; Aspen Snake bedding, Habba Hut, Artificial Bush Plant, Water dish, Analog Reptile Thermometer, Daylight Blue Reptile Heat Bulb, Mini Deep Dome Lamp Fixture, and Water Conditioner.
This is a good starter kit and it will save your time and effort on purchasing from one store to another. But certainly, you can customize the shelter of your corn snake to make it more comfortable for your new pet plus to also bring your own style.
Fixed One-Time Cost of Owning a Corn Snake
Corn snakes are one of the most low-maintenance pets. They barely get sick and their diet is not costly. Just give them a comfortable home then they are all good. Below are the costs that are not too expensive for your pet’s maintenance:
- Feeding Cost
Corn snakes are carnivores; in the wild, they eat rodents, birds, frogs, and other amphibians. They also eat snakes and other reptiles. But in captivity, corns love to eat frozen/thawed mice. One of their favorites is a white-footed mouse.
In giving food, choose the right size of frozen rodents. You can order a bulk quantity of rodents online. Price starts at $0.30 to $1.25.
Adult corns can eat 1-3 mice at each feeding, every 7-10days. Feed them in a separate quiet area and make sure it is clean. Use tweezers to hold the prey and dangle it in front of the snake.
Corns are constrictors because they lack the functional venom. They will first strike a bite to their prey to obtain a firm grip then they will tightly squeeze to suffocate the prey. Young corn snakes need to be fed 2-3 times a week while for adults feed them once a week. Do not feed live prey, it might wound them or parasites might get transferred to your snake.
- Medical Costs
Corn snakes are one of the healthiest species. They rarely need a veterinarian because they hardly have health issues. Nonetheless, in case your corn snake encounters health problems, an initial checkup for vets range from $40-$100.
Bear in mind that not all vets handle exotic animals. So beforehand, check for the nearest vets within your area. For emergency funds, allot $800-$1,200. Corns seldom get sick but when they do, it is going to be a bit pricey so it is better to always be prepared.
- Bathing Costs
Giving your corn snake a warm bath can help it in so many ways. Plus, bathing a corn snake is not pricey. All you need are just a huge bowl where they can swim and a warm spring or filtered water. For $13 you can already buy a large bowl, while for the water, just add it on your water bill.
Reptiles are prone to bacteria and skin infection that is why it is very essential to keep your corn snake clean. But try not to worry because bathing is a simple process.
An occasional bathe is inevitable. Corn snake poop every 1-2 weeks and fecal matter may transmit bacteria to your pet. By keeping your corn hygienic all the time you can save it from constipation, mites, and helps lessen its problem in shedding. You can also save yourself from human disease cause by salmonella.
- Habitat Maintenance Costs
It is also helpful if you have a bucket to use for any mixture of disinfectant. Commonly, you can just put approximately 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water. Only put the disinfectant on well-ventilated area. Leave the item with antiseptic for 5-10 minutes and let it air dry. In case you wanted to buy a chemical make sure it is specifically formulated as “herp safe”. You can use a terrarium cleaner for $13.
For any part of the cage that you need to reach but very narrow, you can use Q-tips, toothpicks, putty knives, and razor blades.
What Decides the Price of Corn Snakes?
Corn snakes suit their name because they have a corn-like appearance, while others say they are named after their favorite spot which is the cornfield. Nevertheless, corns are the most commonly-bred species in the US.
The length has a huge impact on the cost of buying a corn snake. In addition to that, its variations with different patterns also affect the price on the market. Below are the most popular corn snake morphs for sale:
- Albino corn snake – It is also called as amelanistic corn snake. Because of its lack of melanin, it is typically bright orange, red, white or yellow. This type of corn snake usually costs $40
- Okeetee corn snake – There are two types of this morph: classic and scaleless. The classic costs around $40-$60 while the scaleless is more expensive from $250-$1,200
- Snow corn snake – Also known as Complete Albino Corn Snake, this Albino has ruby eyes and pinkish coloration that comes from their blood. This usually costs $50.
- Black corn snake – Due to lack of pigment erythrin, this snake is either gray or black. Depending on its size, it costs from $35-$50
- Lavender corn snake – It has a pink body with dark purple and gray marks. This beautiful snake costs $75.
Whether you are a reptile fanatic or you just want a corn snake because of its attractive pattern, you might want to consider two things before buying a snake:
- Firstly, in buying corn snake, you need to make sure that you are ready to enter the reptile world. But in case you are having a second thought, consider contacting a herpetologist. This will help you discern if you can at least touch a snake before you pet them.
- Second, you also need to consider your home. You need to ensure that the corn snake’s shelter has enough space and there is no annoying noise that might affect the snake. Aside from that, ask your family if they all agree to have a snake at home.
If you have no hesitation at all, then, congratulations! You are now ready for your first snake pet. But aside from the things you need in buying a corn snake, you must also know how to properly take care of it.
You might get a bit nervous before holding your first corn snake but don’t worry, the feeling is mutual. Corn snake can be a bit nervous too if it is their first time being handled. It tends to move in different directions because it is very active when held.
Just make sure that you hold your corn snake well and never force it in one direction. Once a corn got used to being handled, it would not mind being held by their owners, even for long periods of time.
On the other hand, if your snake is getting ready to shed, you might need to avoid holding your corn snake because it may become irritable.
Around 4-5 days of shedding, its eyes will turn opaque or hazy blue. By this time, its appetite may vary and it might be more isolated. Aside from that, your corn may also encounter some problems while shedding. Keep in mind that most shedding problems occur due to lack of humidity.
If the snake peeled skin in pieces, the cage might be too dry. Be wary because this can cause bacteria to grow where the small pieces of skin get stuck.
In case it is having a hard time shedding, you can try to help your corn by soaking it in a dish of water that comes halfway up its body for up to 24 hours. If any other problem arises call the vet.
When to Call the Vet?
Albeit corn snakes are healthy, you also need to be aware of some common health issue that your snake might have. Below are health issues, symptoms, and causes that need to be addressed immediately by a veterinarian.
- Dermatitis is caused by an unclean habitat or one that is too cold or damp. Snakes will have swelling and rapid shedding.
- Respiratory disease is also caused by a habitat that is too cold or damp. Your snake will have difficulty in breathing plus there’s mucus in mouth or nostrils.
- Stomatitis is identified if you see white and cheesy substance in the Corn’s mouth. Loss of teeth and appetite can also be seen.
- Beware of ticks and mites as these parasites can transmit disease.
In terms of reproduction, corn snakes are easy to breed. The normal sexual maturity is 18-36 months. Prior to this, some breeders and owners put snakes through cooling or brumation. This period takes 60-90 days under the temperature of 10 to 16 °C (50 to 61 °F). Corns brumate in a place where they cannot be disturbed and with little sunlight.
One month after mating, female Corn Snakes lay clutches of 12-24 eggs. They deposit them into a warm, moist, hidden location. Some females have issues with egg binding, in which they weren’t able to lay all eggs. This is a very serious problem and it would be better to seek help from vets.
After laying all eggs, there is no parental care afterward. In about 10 weeks, abandoned baby corn snakes break their shell using a special egg tooth. Baby corn snake are now welcomed and they are usually 10-15 inches in length.
We have tackled some possible question you have regarding corn snakes. From planning to costing, proper care to addressing a health issue; hoping this article has helped you decide, prepare, and be ready for your new pet – a very timid and adorable corn snake.