Terrarium decorations are more than just corn snake accessories to waste your money and/or make your pet’s space look prettier. While they can serve an aesthetic function, they also enhance a reptile’s quality of life by mimicking their natural environment and providing mental stimulation. The best zoos do this all the time — it’s called environmental enrichment. A common misconception is that reptiles are stupid creatures that don’t need “toys” or decorations beyond their keeper’s fancy — modern reptile husbandry experts are working to disprove this. Learn more in this video by Lori Torrini.
Since corn snakes like to explore, don’t be afraid to get a little crazy as you decorate! 😉
Heavy water dish
A water dish is about as functional as décor can get. Corn snakes thrive when they have access to a large water dish full of fresh water. Aside from drinking it, they like to soak every once in a while, especially before shedding. Select a heavy ceramic style so it doesn’t spill.
Corn snakes need at least 2 hides: one on the warm side, and another on the cool side. Even though they’re rather curious and active, they still need a dark, safe place to snooze during the day. You can also provide an additional humid hide on the warm side, packing with damp sphagnum moss to be used as needed.
Both live and artificial foliage can be used to enhance your corn snake’s terrarium, and both have their strengths and weaknesses. Fake plants are easier to clean and tend to withstand being climbed on better than their live counterparts, but they may off-gas chemicals, sometimes have sharp protruding wires, and can be fatal if ingested by accident. However, there are safe reptile plants out there, like the ones sold by Custom Reptile Habitats. Meanwhile, live plants are not as sturdy and higher maintenance, but safer for your snake’s health. The choice is up to you.
If you choose to use live plants, buy them 2 weeks before you plan to use them so they can be purged of any fertilizers and pesticides:
- Remove the plant from the pot
- Rinse extra soil from the root ball with cool water
- Wash leaves
- Repot with organic top soil
- Let sit for 2 weeks to dissipate any remaining chemicals
These can be planted in the substrate or kept in heavy ceramic pots. Keep in minds that live plants naturally contribute to the terrarium’s ambient humidity, and watering them via misting may make that humidity too high.
Although corn snakes are primarily terrestrial, many individuals like to climb. It’s good exercise for the snake, and makes the most of your terrarium’s vertical space. However, don’t forget to make sure your lid locks are secure and sized correctly, or else you might find that your provided your snake with the perfect ladder.
Hammocks are typically used for arboreal and semi-arboreal lizards like bearded dragons and iguanas, but did you know that corn snakes enjoy them too? I like the Penn Plax Lizard Lounger best because of its natural appearance and holes just large enough for a young corn snake to explore.
Autumn leaves are a great way to enhance your corn snake’s terrarium by providing them with a new sensory experience. They can smell, slither over, and burrow in the leaves, and best of all — the leaves are free to gather! Just make sure to gather them from a clean, dry area that hasn’t been touched by chemicals, and then bake them in your oven at 200°F/100°C for 1 hour to kill microbes.