Baby corn snake food

When To Start Feeding Baby Corn Snakes

Knowing when to start feeding a baby corn snake is key in ensuring that it gets a good start in life. Baby corns are usually good eaters and will consume frozen-thawed pinkies. This is not always the case, though.

Baby corn snakes can be fed a pinkie shortly after hatching. It is not uncommon for baby corns to refuse food until they have shed for the first time. This usually happens between 1-2 weeks after hatching. Continuously refusing food is a cause for concern. You can try scenting the pinkie, tub feeding, adjusting the enclosure, and feeding live prey to encourage the corn snake to eat. Force-feeding is an emergency resort tactic. Few reptile vets will recommend force-feeding unless the snake has lost over 10% in mass or has other health issues.

Overfeeding your baby Corn snake may not seem like a bad thing as growing snakes need vitamins and nutrients. However, overfeeding or power feeding can result in an unhealthy snake with a shorter lifespan.

Hatchlings will usually be between 8-12 inches long and can start eating shortly after hatching. In all likelihood, though, a hatchling won’t eat this soon. It’s quite common for a snake hatchling to ignore food until its first shed. This usually happens within 1-2 weeks of hatching.

Still, you can offer food to a baby corn snake shortly after it has hatched. Don’t be concerned if it rejects the food, however. It won’t hurt the baby snake to wait a short while after hatching for its first meal.

If a baby corn snake continues to reject food after its first shed it is a good idea to start recording its weight and growth daily. Breeders will usually track this information post-hatch and keep feeding records. If you bought the snake from a dealer, you’ll be able to request this info from them.

What Do Baby Corn Snakes Eat?

Corn snakes eat mice in the wild and in captivity. In the wild, they also eat birds, frogs, lizards, and other rodents. Baby corn snakes should be fed pinkie mice.

The size of the snake will determine the size of the feeder mouse. Choosing the right sized feeder mouse is important. Too small, and the snake won’t get enough nutrients to grow properly. Too large, and the snake may have trouble eating. It could also suffer internal damage.

The table below details guidelines for feeding snakes by age. This is not set in stone. In fact, it is better to choose a feeder mouse based on the size of your snake rather than its age. Choosing a mouse that is the same thickness, but not thicker, as your snake’s mid-body section is the ideal size.

Snake’s AgeFeeder Mouse SizeFeeding Frequency
Hatchling:PinkieEvery 5-7 days
Juvenile:FuzzyEvery 7-10 days
Yearling:Small or HopperEvery 7-10 days
Adult:Adult or jumboEvery 10-14 days

Remember, the larger the feeder animal, the longer to go in between feeds. If your corn snake is particularly large and jumbo mice aren’t cutting it, try small rats. Rats offer more nutritional value. A rat also takes longer for a snake to digest. Be sure to adjust the feeding schedule accordingly.

How To Feed a Baby Corn Snake

Corn snakes are usually good eaters right from the get-go. Using a pair of feeding tongs or tweezers, hold a thawed pinkie by the middle and wiggle it before the snake. A bit of encouragement might be in order. Do this by touching the snake’s mouth with the head of the pinkie. In most cases, this will be enough to earn a feeding response.

Once the corn snake has latched on, release the pinkie. Avoid startling the snake while it eats as it may stop eating.

Should I Use Vitamin Or Calcium Powder?

Studies, such as this one in Copeia, have shown that a snake’s growth is directly related to how much food it ingests. This includes the quality of the nutrients, fats, and minerals in the food.

Sprinkling your snake’s food with vitamin and/or calcium powder is something that you can do for a growing snake. It’s not necessary, but it can be beneficial to their growth, especially hatchlings.

Coating food with these supplements also has the benefit of ensuring that a snake is receiving all the nutrition it needs. This can be good for growing snakes, or snakes that have gone off food and need a nutrient boost.

My Baby Corn snake Won’t Eat

Sometimes, a baby corn snake will reject food even after its first shed. There are a few methods you can try to trick the snake into eating before resorting to force-feeding.

Scenting Food

Scenting the pinkie can be a way to trick a baby corn snake into eating. Corn snakes in the wild will also consume lizards, frogs, and small birds. Occasionally, captive-bred ones will have the same preference.

To scent a pinkie, wash and dry the mouse. Rub it on a frozen-thawed chick so that the scent is transferred. Now offer the scented pinkie to the snake. You can also do this with frogs or lizards.

Training the snake to accept unscented feeder mice is ideal, because, aside from chicks, other feeder prey animals are difficult for many to come by.

Container Feeding

Container feeding can be another useful tactic for convincing picky baby corn snakes to eat. Here’s how:

  1. Find a round container that has a lid.
  2. Place the feeder mouse by the inner wall and seal the snake inside the container. Leave it alone for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Return the snake to its enclosure when done, even if it didn’t eat.

The snake will continuously bump into the feeder mouse as it follows the curve of the container. This can trick the snake into eating. The container’s walls should not be clear. Although placing a towel over the container can work, the lid should be pierced in several places to allow airflow.

Pros for tub feeding:

  • There’s no bedding, so there is less mess and no chance for the snake to ingest substrate
  • Tub feeding is good for encouraging picky eaters to consume food

Cons for tub feeding:

  • Removing a snake from its environment can stress it out and discourage it from eating its meal
  • Picking up a snake to put it back into its enclosure can cause it to regurgitate its meal because that’s how snakes escape threats

A baby corn snake may reject food if it feels anxious. Consider:

  • Is the enclosure too large? Snakes can feel exposed and unsafe in too large enclosures.
  • Are the temperature and humidity levels correct? Corn snakes need a temperature gradient of 75-85°F and humidity levels between 40-50%.
  • Are there any external factors, such as loud music or scents, making the snake uncomfortable? Place the enclosure in a calm space that doesn’t see an abundance of activity, such as a study or den.

Adjusting the enclosure can be the right move. Once the snake is feeling more secure, it may eat its food.

Live Feeding

Frozen-thawed pinkies are ideal feeders. However, if your baby corn snake refuses frozen-thawed then a live pinkie is an alternative. Place the pinkie near the snake and give it some privacy. Don’t leave the pinkie in there for more than 10 minutes. If the snake doesn’t eat the pinkie, remove it.

Breeders that raise a corn snake to eat only live prey should notify a possible owner about its eating habits. Getting a corn snake raised on live food to take frozen-thawed can be difficult.


Only consider force-feeding if the snake has lost over 10% of its weight and a vet agrees that force-feeding is the way forward. Force-feeding a corn snake, at any age, should not be done without first being shown the process by a reptile vet. It should also only be done in emergency situations.

Is Overfeeding My Snake Bad?

Overfeeding a snake can cause it to become overweight. It can also cause a young snake to grow faster than it should. This can shorten its lifespan and cause other health issues.

Is My Snake Overweight?

The signs of an overweight snake are:

  • Raised fat reserves
  • Being overly soft to the touch. Snakes are lean and muscular when at their ideal weight and should be firm to the touch
  • Pronounced fat rolls when coiled
  • Scale spread
  • Obvious hips above the tail

How Long Can You Keep Frozen Mice?

Feeder rodents can usually be kept frozen for up to 6 months. Ideally, they should be put deep in the freezer to avoid partial thawing.

If you notice a small amount of freezer burn on a feeder mouse it can still safely be fed to the snake.

Thawing Frozen Mice

Thaw the pinkie in warm water for 10-15 minutes. Do not use boiling water, as this can change the smell and texture of the pinkie. You’ll know the mouse is thawed when you can poke its middle and feel no lumps inside. Do not thaw a mouse in the microwave or offer a partially-thawed mouse.

Baby corn snakes can be fed shortly after hatching. In all likelihood, they won’t eat until after their first shed. Don’t be alarmed if your baby corn snake refuses to eat for the first 1-2 weeks of its life.

Post-shed, if your snake still refuses to eat it might be time to try different feeding methods, such as container feeding or scenting. Force-feeding is a last resort and should only be done in emergency situations.

MLA Style: Carter, Lou. "When To Start Feeding Baby Corn Snakes" Snakes For Pets, (August 11, 2022), https://www.

APA Style: Carter, L. (August 11, 2022). When To Start Feeding Baby Corn Snakes. Snakes For Pets. Retrieved August 11, 2022, from

How To Feed A Corn Snake In 5 Steps

Knowing how to feed your corn snake is vital to the reptile’s overall health.

In addition to feeding the snake the right type and size of prey, the feeding frequency is also important.

A baby corn snake needs to be fed once every 5-7 days, increasing to once every 7-10 days for a juvenile. When the snake is an adult over two years old, decrease feeding to once every 10-14 days. The size of the prey should never be larger than 1 ½ times the size of the corn snake’s midsection.

Not feeding your snake often enough will cause malnutrition, while overfeeding will lead to obesity and digestive issues.

If the size of the prey is too small for the corn snake, the animal will be hungry and possibly malnourished.

When the prey is too large, the snake will regurgitate its food, and the negative experience will cause a loss of appetite.

Read on to learn more about how to feed a corn snake, including diet and feeding guidelines. 

Table of Contents

Corn Snake Diet

Corn snakes are strict carnivores, meaning they only eat meats and proteins.

The corn snake in the wild has a diet consisting of almost exclusively small rodents and birds.

In captivity, we want the same thing.

For corn snakes, this means small rodents like mice.

But you don’t have to go hunting for it yourself.

There are many pet stores and online suppliers available to take care of this for you.

With baby corn snakes, you want to look for pinkie mice.

Check out our article on how many pinkie mice to feed baby corn snakes for more info.

These aren’t a special breed of mouse at all, but pinkie mice are baby, hairless mice.

Their small size and lack of mobility make them perfect for the baby corn snake.

Corn snakes should only eat food smaller than its girth or width at mid-length.

For babies, this is tough, but pinkie mice will fit the bill nicely.

Live pinkie mice aren’t very mobile.

This makes them easier to hunt for the young snakes, and it avoids injury.

For all corn snakes, you never want to leave live prey in the tank because they may bite back as they’re hunted.

With pinkies, you won’t have this problem.

Mice are usually fed to a adult corn snake in live form or frozen and the fully thawed form.

While baby corn snakes can eat frozen and thawed pinkies, they’re less likely to.

The baby corn snake is very instinct-driven, and its instinct isn’t to eat food already dead.

It wants to eat something live.

So, the baby corn snake diet consists of pinkie mice (live preferably) fed once every 5 – 7 days.

Read more about how often to feed corn snakes.

Feeding A Corn Snake

This section tells you step-by-step how to feed a corn snake.

It also applies to feeding baby corn snakes.

Baby corn snakes are fed after their first prenatal shed.

Many will eat right away, but sometimes they wait for a little while.

Follow these steps to feed a corn snake.

#1 Choose The Right Prey

As we mentioned in the section above, the best choice for corn snakes is mice.

Make sure they’re smaller than the corn snake’s width at mid-length.

For baby corn snakes, use pinkie mice.

If you’re worried about even a newborn pinky mouse size, use a baby spiny mouse or a baby pygmy mouse.

Live is better than frozen and thawed, but make do with this if it’s all you have.

For maximum safety, look at our guide on picking the right size mice for a corn snake.

#2 Place The Mouse In Front Of The Corn Snake

Take the mouse and put it right in front of the corn snake.

Watch to see if the corn snake notices the mouse.

If you see the snake notice and watch the mouse, keep your hands back.

Corn snakes have a hard time telling the difference between prey and fingers.

Most adult corn snakes will strike the mouse right away and begin to swallow it.

For those whose snakes do this easily, skip to step #5.


You don’t ordinarily need to feed the corn snake by hand as you do with other reptiles.

These keen carnivores prefer to hunt themselves whenever they can.

If your corn snake seems uninterested, you need to move to step #3. 

#3 “Brain” The Corn Snake

When your corn snake isn’t interested in your mouse, what’s happening is the snake’s natural hunting instincts haven’t been triggered yet.

So we need to help those instincts along.

While it may seem gross, one almost-foolproof way to get a snake’s attention is to brain the mouse.

In other words, use a knife to cut into the skull of the mouse and squeeze.

This is done so some brain matter comes out of the cut or nose.

Another way is to cut the mouse in half, so the corn snake won’t have to eat the whole thing in one bite.

The smell and sight of the insides work wonders for triggering the hunting and eating instincts.

#4 Tease The Corn Snake

If braining is too gross or it’s still not pleasing, perhaps tease the corn snake. 

When you tease the snake, you take half of the mouse and tap it to the nose of the corn snake.

You may want to do this while holding the snake, so you have more control over its movement.

Once the snake strikes put it down in the tank and let it enjoy its meal.

#5 Remove The Prey Remains

Once your snake has ingested its meal, go in a clean up any remains.

There aren’t usually too many with snakes, but it’s still a good idea to check.

#6 Repeat Every 5 – 7 Days

Now you repeat the process every 5 – 7 days.

Adjust the size of the mouse to match the width of the corn snake.

When it can eat adult mice, you may want to switch to feeding every 7 – 10 days.


Don’t ever feed a corn snake within 24 hours of feeding.

It won’t have had time to digest its last meal.

Helpful Tips for Feeding a Corn Snake

While corn snakes are typically voracious eaters, there may be times when your snake does not have much of an appetite or refuses its food.

Corn snakes will experience appetite loss during shedding, sickness, pregnancy, and brumation.

If your snake is not eating as it usually does, seek veterinary care to rule out illness.

Below, we provide some helpful tips on how to make feeding time an enjoyable experience for both you and your snake.

Maintain Proper Temperatures

Corn snakes need heat for properly digesting their food.

Because they are ectothermic animals, snakes rely on outside sources of heat to maintain their body temperature.

Provide your corn snake with the optimal temperature gradient in its enclosure, so the animal has ways to warm up and cool down.

The cool side of the tank should have a temperature range of 75-82° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C).

The ambient temperature in the middle of the tank needs to be between 80-85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C).

The best temperature range for the warm basking side of the tank is 88-92° degrees Fahrenheit (33° C).

Regularly monitor the enclosure temperatures to ensure they are correct and adjust when necessary.

Monitor When Feeding

It is always best to monitor your corn snake during feeding time, especially if you are using live prey.

Live prey may bite or scratch your snake enough to cause serious injury, and the risk increases when the prey is not eaten right away.

Even if you are using thawed prey, monitor your corn snake for any signs of difficulty eating or regurgitation. 

If your snake is struggling to eat, this is usually a sign the prey is too large.

It is very unlikely for a snake to choke because it has a glottis, which allows the animal to breathe while eating.

However, if the adult corn snake regurgitates its food, it will associate this negative experience with mealtime, and its appetite will be diminished.

No Wild-Caught Prey

Always purchase feeder prey from a pet supply store or another reputable seller.

Never feed your corn snake any wild-caught mice, rats, or other small prey.

Wild prey animals are highly likely to be infested with parasites or other diseases which are very harmful to your snake.

Use Feeding Tongs

Your corn snake may get very excited and strike as soon as it sees prey. 

If you are using your hands to feed your pet snake, there is a chance you will be bitten.

To avoid the risk of being bitten by your corn snake during mealtime, use feeding tongs instead of your hands.

Feeding tongs have rubber tips for your snake’s safety, and they are available at most pet supply stores.

Weigh Your Snake

Use a small kitchen scale to weigh your corn snake once a week.

Tracking your snake’s weight allows you to determine if your pet’s growth rate is on track and the animal is maintaining a healthy weight.

If your snake is losing weight or gaining too much, you will need to schedule a visit with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying illness and create a diet plan.

Feed Your Snake in the Morning or Evening

Corn snakes are crepuscular, which means they are the most active during the hours of dawn and dusk.

The best time to feed your snake is during the evening, close to sunset. 

The snake will be rested and ready to hunt during this time, so it will be more receptive to being fed.

If you are unable to feed your corn snake in the evening, aim to have morning meal times instead.

Provide a Water Bowl

Place a large, shallow dish in your corn snake’s enclosure and make sure it is filled with fresh, clean, chlorine-free water at all times.

Snakes tend to soak in their water dish, so you may need to change the water more than once per day if it gets dirty.


We hope you enjoyed learning how to feed a corn snake.

It can be tricky, but if you choose the right size of mouse and take care not to feed it too often, it’ll all be just fine.

Look for mice smaller than their width at mid-length.

Babies can eat every 5 – 7 days, while adults should wait every 7 – 10 days.

Follow these guidelines, and your cute reptile will be just fine.

Commonly Asked Questions

How do I know if my corn snake is hungry?

When your corn snake is hungry, it will be more active during the day and will spend more time near the front of the enclosure.

The snake will also flick its tongue in and out more frequently than usual.

Can I hold my corn snake after feeding?

It is not advisable to handle your corn snake for up to 48 hours after a meal.

Handling your snake too soon after eating will cause the animal to regurgitate its food.

It is also essential to handle your corn snake at least 1-2 times per week to keep the animal tame and provide it with some exercise.

However, handling your snake more frequently than once per day may cause the reptile to become stressed and lose its appetite.

Related: How to tame a corn snake

How long can a corn snake go without eating before dying?

During brumation, a corn snake is able to survive for 2-3 months without a proper meal.

Outside of brumation, a corn snake is only able to go for two weeks without eating.

If you have issues with getting your corn snake to eat, it is best to seek a reptile veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Corn snake


Corn snakes are non-venomous snakes found in the southeastern United States. These reptiles are also called grain snakes. They inhabit fields, meadows, forests, and rural areas (such as abandoned buildings and barns) that provide plenty of food. In addition, corn snakes can be found not only in the wild, but also in numerous homes around the world where they are kept as pets. These reptiles have become so popular because of their unusual appearance and rather docile disposition. The main threats to the survival of corn snakes are habitat destruction and accidental killings. Fortunately, the number of corn snakes in the wild is still stable, and they are not on the list of endangered species.

Interesting facts about corn snakes:

Corn snakes have a thin body that can reach a length of 24 to 72 inches.
This species is usually orange or dark yellow. They have red spots and stripes on the back and sides of the body. The belly is covered with black and white stripes. Body color depends on habitat (it provides camouflage).

The belly of the corn snake looks like the kernel of Indian corn, hence the name "corn snake". In addition, the corn snake is often found near corn, which attracts their favorite food - rodents.

Corn snakes are not venomous. Unfortunately, people often kill corn snakes because they bear a resemblance in appearance to the venomous snake known as the medhead.

Corn snakes are diurnal animals (active during the day). When not looking for food, corn snakes hide in underground burrows or under rocks and bark. Corn snakes can also be seen in the trees.

Corn snakes are carnivores (meat eaters). Young corn snakes eat lizards and frogs, while adults prey on rodents, bats, and birds, and occasionally eat bird eggs.

People appreciate these snakes because they control the number of rodents. They also prevent the spread of disease and crop damage that are commonly associated with large rodent populations.

Corn snakes belong to a group of snakes known as constrictors. These snakes wrap the body around the victim and squeeze him until he suffocates to death.

Corn snakes require food every couple of days. When the prey is dead, the corn snake swallows it in one piece.

Corn snakes hibernate during cold periods of the year.

Mating season for corn snakes usually occurs from March to May.

The female lays 10 to 30 eggs in a nest of leaves or rotten wood. After that, she leaves them to fend for themselves. The eggs hatch after an incubation period of 60 to 65 days.

Corn snakes do not show parental care. The cubs are only 10-15 inches long at birth and need to take care of themselves from the first day of their lives.

Corn snakes reach sexual maturity between 18 and 36 months of age.

Corn snakes can live 5 to 8 years in the wild and up to 25 years in captivity.

Posted in Land
Tagged animals, snakes, reptiles, land, predators

How to care for a corn snake?

Natalia | June 8, 2021 | Veterinary | No comments

Taking its name from the corn granaries, which attracted mice and later these predators, the corn snake is an excellent house snake.

How does the corn snake behave?

Generally docile, relatively easy to care for and does not grow very large; this is a great choice, especially for beginner snake owners. However, these reptiles are also a favorite of even experienced owners due to the many beautiful colors and patterns that have been bred in captivity. Closely related to rat snakes , , corn snakes are sometimes referred to as red rat snakes. They are native to the southeastern United States, mostly land-dwelling, and active mostly at dusk and dawn.

How big does a corn snake grow?

ADULT SIZE: 90 to 150 cm long; sometimes up to 180 cm long

How long does a corn snake live?

LIFE EXPECTANCY: 15 to 20 years

Corn Snake Behavior and Temperament

These reserved snakes allow people to handle them and are generally docile. But when they feel threatened, especially in the wild, they can vibrate their tails as a defense mechanism, similar to rattlesnakes.

Like most snakes, corn and rat snakes are consummate escapers. They will push the lid with their nose looking for weak spots and tiny holes, so the fit of the lid is very important. If the snake gets out of the cage, it may get lost or injured. An escaped snake can also scare your guests.

Corn snake housing

The 75 liter glass tank is a large housing for the corn snake. It is important to use a securely closing lid that can be clamped from above.

Corn snakes need to hide to feel safe. Provide a hidden box (any closed container, such as an overturned cardboard box) large enough for the snake to curl up in; if it is too big, the snake will not feel safe. Pieces of bark can also provide a hiding place for your snake if they are on a substrate that allows them to hide under the bark. Ideally, there should be a place to hide in both the cooler and warmer part of the hull. Also provide a forked branch for climbing.

Temperature control for corn snake

Keeping your corn snake at the right temperature is vital. An overhead incandescent light is the preferred heating method, but corn snakes come from temperate climates so they don't need tropical temperatures. Keep the ambient temperature between 26.7 and 29 C. The bathing area should be between 29 and 31 C. At night, the temperature should only drop to 24 C. Heating pads or heat tape can be used under the tank, but they can make it difficult to see how much case heats up, so use thermometers inside.

Humidity for the corn snake

Fortunately, corn snakes prefer the humidity of a normal household. 40 to 50 percent is a good range for ambient air in the hull, up to 60 percent will promote healthy shedding. Monitor your corn snake enclosure with a hygrometer, especially during the drier winter months; you may need to spray the tank more frequently or refill the evaporative water tank.

Corn Snake Substrate

These snakes love to burrow and hide, so using a layer of loose substrate (floor lining) at the bottom of the enclosure is key. A variety of materials can be used as the bottom layer of the case. Newspaper without ink is a utilitarian choice, as it is very easy to clean, but its caged appearance leaves a lot to be desired. It is possible to use indoor/outdoor carpeting and if you cut two pieces, you can rotate them, replacing the clean one with the dirty one while cleaning; Wash and dry contaminated product thoroughly before use.

Aspen shavings can be used for the top layer. Shavings stained with feces can simply be scooped out; if necessary, clean and freshen the chips. Move the snake to a separate feeding container to avoid accidentally swallowing the chips. Do not use pine or cedar shavings because the aromatic oils can cause irritation and breathing problems for your pet reptile.

Sand, soil and corn cobs are also not suitable substrates for corn snakes.

Food and water for the corn snake

Corn snakes are carnivores. In the wild, they follow their prey primarily by smell rather than by sight. Captive corn snakes should be fed pre-killed frozen mice that have been properly thawed. 2 The young are taken out to be fed mice on the little finger, and the size of the prey should be increased as the snake grows. The prey can be both wide and slightly wider than the snake's head.

Feed growing snakes twice a week; Adults only need to be fed one suitably sized prey each week or 10 days. Your snake's appetite may decrease around the time of shedding, so reduce your feeding frequency if your snake is about to shed, as evidenced by cloudy eyes and dull, cloudy skin.

Because corn snakes drink water through their mouths, a water bowl is also needed; It is important to keep the water clean. Snakes often use water to help them defecate; when this happens, empty the dishes and immediately wash and refill them. A heavy, shallow dish a few inches in diameter is a good source of water.

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