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The general rule for determining minimum corn snake enclosure size goes like this:
- length = snake length
- width = half snake length
- height = half snake length
Considering that corn snakes average between 3-5′ (.9-1.5 m) long as adults, the minimum corn snake enclosure size is at least 75 gallons, or 48″x18″x22″ (120x48x55 cm).
Hatchlings and juveniles have a predator avoidance instinct which compels them to stay hidden while they are small and vulnerable. It also compels them to avoid open spaces, as those are the most dangerous for a young, virtually defenseless snake. For this reason, many people recommend keeping young corn snakes in tiny enclosures.
This works well for breeders, but not necessarily for pet owners. Hatchlings are too young to go to a new home, anyway. So you can put a young corn snake in a well-secured, adult-sized enclosure from the day you bring it home. You can accommodate their predator avoidance instinct by providing lots of hiding places.
The predator avoidance instinct weakens as corn snakes age and grow larger. By the time they are adults, they have become much more confident, and thus will explore their enclosure more and hide less. Providing a larger enclosure with lots of vertical climbing materials will best accommodate this activity and encourage better muscle tone and overall health.
When in doubt, remember: Larger is always better!!
Front-opening terrariums are the preferred method of housing for many snake keepers because they are more secure, make terrarium access easy, hold heat and humidity well, and are fairly attractive to boot.
However, appropriately-sized glass aquariums may also be used to house your snake. Keep in mind that if an all-glass enclosure is used, three of the four walls should be blacked out/covered to help the snake feel more secure. You will also need to take extra measures to keep the snake from escaping.
We recommend the following commercially-available enclosures for corn snakes:
- Maximum Reptile Essential 4 Enclosure
- Zen Habitats PVC Reptile Enclosure with Wire Port Plug
- Kages 48″x24″x24″ Premium PVC Reptile Enclosure
- Carolina Custom Cages Extra Long Terrarium
- Tetrafauna Deluxe ReptoHabitat, 75 gallon
Securing the Terrarium
Because they are small, slender, and love to explore, corn snakes are particularly talented escape artists. The best way to prevent an escape is to secure the lid properly. Whatever you do, DON’T USE TAPE! Tape is notorious for injuring snakes who accidentally come in contact with its sticky side.
If you’re using a glass aquarium, invest in at least 4 (more are required for larger tanks) lid clamps to keep it firmly in place.
If you’re using a front-opening terrarium, a lock or latch will keep it secured.
If you’re using a tub, make sure that it has a latching lid.
If you’re using a rack system, make sure that the top of the tub is flush with the rack, and that the snake is unable to push the tub out on its own.
Finally, if your snake somehow manages to escape, here are some tips for finding a lost snake.
Can 2 or more corn snakes be kept in the same cage?
Why not? There’s a variety of reasons, including risk of cannibalism, disease/parasite transmission, stress-induced appetite loss, stress-induced weakened immune system, etc. You get the gist — cohabiting corn snakes is a bad idea and should never happen.