What Is a Corn Snake Vivarium?

Christina Whyte

A corn snake vivarium or terrarium is a tank or enclosure for a corn snake. Corn snakes are popular pets partially because they are relatively easy to take care of and house, although they do have needs regarding heat, furnishings, and safety. The size of the vivarium depends on the size of the snake, and one square foot of floor space per foot of snake is recommended, or 930 square centimeters per 30 cm of snake.

Paper towel can be used to make bedding in a corn snake vivarium.
Paper towel can be used to make bedding in a corn snake vivarium.

Heating is an important consideration for a corn snake vivarium, and a temperature gradient of 21-30°C (70-86°F) should be provided so that the snake can effectively regulate its temperature. Heat can be provided using a heat mat or by creating a basking area with a light, although heat mats are better because then the light does not have to be constantly on. Never use hot rocks as a heating source, because they can burn a snake. A regular day to night lighting schedule is good for a corn snake, and they do not require and should not have a humid tank.

Corn snakes are common as pets because caring for them is relatively easy.
Corn snakes are common as pets because caring for them is relatively easy.

The substrate or bedding in a corn snake vivarium can be a variety of materials, including aspen shavings, unprinted newspaper, paper towel, or artificial grass. Cedar and redwood shavings are toxic to snakes and should never be used. Mulch and coco or orchid bark are less appropriate for corn snakes than other reptiles because these materials increase the tank's humidity.

Corn snakes like to hide and become stressed if they cannot. Two hide boxes are recommended in a corn snake vivarium, one in the warm side and one in the cool side. The hide boxes can be made out of a variety of materials, as long as they are big enough for the whole snake to fit inside but not too much bigger than that, and there are no sharp edges that the snake could injure itself on. Corn snakes also appreciate a place to climb, such as natural or artificial branches or rocks, and need a water bowl that is big enough to at least partially soak in.

A safe corn snake vivarium needs to be secure because corn snakes are experts at escaping. They can lift unlocked lids and fit through improbably tiny openings, and often test their enclosure for weaknesses. All bulbs in the corn snake vivarium need to be enclosed in mesh or otherwise kept away from the snake because snakes can burn themselves by touching bare bulbs. Any material brought in from outside may harbor parasites that can harm a snake, so need to be disinfected.

Corn snakes feed on mice.
Corn snakes feed on mice.

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