The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Anyone, even your kid, who’s inclined toward snakes can begin petting corn snakes. They’re docile, non-venomous, and easy to care for, so they can make excellent pets.
Along with caring for them comes the question: What do corn snakes eat? Well, they primarily hunt rodents, but they also eat other small animals like birds, bunnies, and frogs.
You can nourish your corn snake with pinky rodents or large mice once every 7–14 days, depending on its size. Generally, you have to feed your snake pet with a mouse that’s 1.5 the size of his girth.
In this article, we’ll look into what other food your corn snake will eat. It’ll give you a great idea of what to and what not to feed your new-found friend.
Corn snakes are carnivores that prefer eating small mammals.
Because they’re not venomous snakes, they can’t put down their prey in one bite. Instead, they constrict it—wrapping their slender body around the prey, until it suffocates and crashes to death.
Rodents are their number one target in the wild. Hence, you may find them around areas where mice and rats reside, such as farms and homes.
Nonetheless, they’ll expand their usual food selection when they can’t find a primary target. The young corn snakes may feed on tree frogs and lizards, while the adult ones could turn to other small prey like birds, bats, squirrels, quail eggs, etc.
In captivity, the corn snakes have a pretty simple diet. You can feed them frozen or thawed mice, which you can buy in any pet store.
Before feeding the prey to your corn snake, let it cool down to room temperature first. The heat will give your pet the impression that the food he’s eating is alive.
You should hold its tail with a clipping tool when feeding your corn. It’ll prevent your hand from getting bitten by your snaky friend.
Aside from thawed mice, you can also feed him live rats. Avoid feeding him the ones you caught at home, as they may carry diseases or parasites.
It’s also important to note that just like other pets, you need to give your corn snake a bowl of water. Place it inside the vivarium and refill it regularly.
You can feed your baby corn snake one pinky mouse once every 5–7 days. Then, when it takes him less than a minute to eat his food, it may indicate a need to increase his food intake.
Hence, you may give him two pinkies.
The pinkies we’re talking about are baby mice that haven’t developed fur, yet. Typically, they’re one or two-day-old and weigh about two grams.
Soon after, when two pinkies don’t leave a bulge on your pet’s body, you’ll have to move up to feeding him fuzzies—mice that are a little older than the pinkies.
As your corn snake increases in size, feed him a tiny mouse, then a medium-sized mouse.
When your corn snake reaches the adult stage, you’ll have to feed him bigger-sized mice or rats. You should give him food once a week or every 10 days.
Eventually, as your corn snake ages, his metabolism will slow down. He’ll require less food, so you may be able to feed him every week or two.
There’s a mix of ideas on the web about whether or not a corn snake eats crickets.
Some assert corn snakes don’t see crickets as food because they’re too small to eat. Plus, such insects emit little body heat, hence, your pet may not identify them as food.
Nonetheless, considering that all snakes are carnivores, they’ll eat other animals, including crickets. That’s especially true when they’re hungry and the primary food source in the wild becomes scarce.
However, given the cute size of these crickets, they can only sustain the juvenile corn snakes. The adult ones may just ignore them and opt for bigger meals.
It’s easy to assume that corn snakes eat corn because such food goes with their name.
Truth is, corn snakes don’t eat corn. It’s not part of their natural diet.
There are two theories as to how these reptiles got their name:
- Corn snakes got their name from the semblance of their belly markings to the patterns seen on Indian corn.
- People called them corn snakes because of their regular presence near grain stores, where they hunt for mice and rats.
Corn snakes aren’t picky eaters. Hence, they’ll eat any small animal they can suppress with their jaws, including a bunny or a small rabbit.
However, the corn snake should be big enough to swallow a small rabbit. A bigger rabbit may be beyond what an adult-sized corn snake may carry, so he may pass on it.
If you’re thinking of giving your corn snake a fish for a slight change, you can feed him one that’s appropriate for his size.
Fish is a good source of protein and other vitamins. Thus, there’s no harm in feeding him this meal occasionally.
Just don’t throw him fish with sharp bones, as this may harm your pet.
Although eggs aren’t their typical food, corn snakes will eat eggs, when available. Besides, eggs contain all the necessary nutrients (proteins and calcium) your corn snake needs.
You can feed your pet quail eggs. These will make a great treat for him. He may also eat chicken eggs and other available eggs in the wild.
That said, you should feed him raw and fresh fish occasionally to avoid disturbing his natural food selection.
In the wild, juvenile corn snakes eat frogs, especially tree frogs—these are their top favorite. The adult ones, though, are likely to ignore such prey and focus on targeting rodents and birds.
When in captivity, some corn owners don’t like feeding their pets with frogs. The reason is that such prey may harbor bacteria and fungi in their body, which would be nasty to feed pet snakes.
As a carnivore, corn snakes will eat almost anything they can swallow whole. If you feed him a whole raw chicken, he’ll take it.
However, it won’t be advisable to feed your corn snake with the raw chicken you purchase in the supermarket because most of it contains additives.
Besides, medical experts don’t recommend humans eat raw chicken, as it may result in food poisoning. Likewise, you shouldn’t feed your corn snake with something you’re not completely sure will be good for him.
Here are other reasons raw chicken isn’t good for corn snakes:
- The digestive system of a corn snake may not handle chicken, since it isn’t a typical prey item for him.
- Raw chicken can harbor bacteria which can be harmful to your pet.
Yes, mice are corn snakes’ primary food source—be it in the wild or captivity. Whether it’s alive, pre-killed, or frozen, your corn snake will feed on a mouse.
However, feeding your pet a live mouse can be a little risky.
The mice will fight back or resist as part of their survival instinct. Thus, it may cause your corn snake to get wounds or scratches on the skin.
Snakes, including corn snakes, have cannibalistic instincts. Not always, but they may feed on smaller snakes, especially when food becomes limited.
For starters, corn snakes are solitary creatures, so they live and hunt alone in their natural environment. Unlike other pets, they don’t require the company of another animal of their kind.
Hence, it can be risky to put two varying sizes together inside a cage, let alone two male snakes. Either they’ll get stressed with having a companion inside the same enclosure or they’ll fight each other.
Human food tastes and smells different from the natural diet of corn snakes. Additionally, most human food is already processed, contains no essential nutrients, and has additives and preservatives.
Hence, this food won’t be good for your corn snake.
When a corn snake regurgitated, it may cause stress in its internal system. Not only because he isn’t getting the needed nutrients, but also because the regurgitation process can rob the essential digestive acids from his tummy.
It’s crucial to identify the reason, so you can take the necessary actions.
If you notice a bulge or swelling around his stomach, the probable reason can be parasites. A parasite called Cryptosporidium can cause gastrointestinal illness, which results in chronic regurgitation.
Such organisms will colonize and cause a thickening of the stomach. It results in the bulge seen on the snake’s body.
As we’ve mentioned above, you should only feed your corn snake with food about 1.5 the size of his girth. A larger food item may not be good for your pet, so he may vomit it.
Corn snakes may vomit or regurgitate as part of their natural stress response.
For example, corn snakes are used to calm environments. As such, they may exhibit stressful behavior when startled by loud sounds—rough music, boisterous kids, etc.
Handling corn snakes after feeding may, also, cause them to regurgitate or vomit their food. It’s advisable not to hold your corn snake for at least three days after they take in a meal.
Heat allows snakes to move and digest their food. Your corn snake, too, uses heat as part of its digestive process.
You should place your pet in an environment with an ambient air temperature of around 77–86° F. Any lower or higher may cause your corn to regurgitate.
When your corn snake regurgitates, you should pause feeding him for at least 10 days. That’ll be enough time for his stomach and digestive system to recover.
After this, you can give him prey or pinkies half the size of the usual food he’s eating.
If your corn snake regurgitates more than once, you should send him to a vet. A bigger problem like blockage, tumor, bacterial infection, or harmful parasites may be causing the issue.
Moreover, you can wrap the food he regurgitated with plastic and request the vet to conduct testing or examination. The fluid from gastric lavage or acid-fast stain may show the causative organisms.
It’s not typical for a corn snake to refuse a meal, but they may do under certain circumstances, such as:
- He’s about to shed his skin.
- Your corn snake isn’t hungry yet.
- The prey may be too cold, so he can’t identify it as food.
- He may be experiencing scale rot or mouth rot.
Corn snakes aren’t picky eaters, so they’ll eat any small animals they can hunt down in the wild, including rodents, birds, and rabbits.
Depending on their size, owners have to feed them pinkies, fuzzies, mice, or rats. To be clear though, these creatures don’t eat corn.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.