Most people house their snakes in glass or acrylic tanks. You may also use a plastic storage box (such as Rubbermaid or Sterilite containers) with some small holes drilled on 2 or more sides. Or you can build your own!
Young corns are comfortable in a standard 10 gallon tank or similar.
Adults should be housed in an enclosure that is at least the size of a 20 gallon long.
You should provide hiding places for security. One at the "warm" end of the tank and one at the "cool" end will suffice, but more hides are even better!
A VERY secure lid is a must as corns snakes are notorius for escaping, even from spaces that you are positive they can't fit through.
Substrate can be newspaper or paper towel, cypress bark, aspen shavings, or Carefresh. NO AROMATICS WOODS (such as cedar or pine--they can be toxic!)
Heat is necessary for digestion, and since your snake cannot make his or her own, you will need to provide it!
Adult corns are pretty comfortable at the same temperatures as humans (78-88). They do best with a temperature gradient so that one part of their cage is in 82-88 F range and the other part is 68-80 F.
Younger corns do best with a temperature gradient kept towards the higher ends mentioned above.
An under the tank heater is recommended, but you could use an overhead lamp (do not leave a white light on all night)
Use a good digital thermometer with a probe and/or an infrared temp gun to measure temperatures in multiple areas of your cage/tank.
Offer prey items that are about the same diameter as the widest part of your snake; you can go as large as 11/2 times the size. You can use mice or other rodents or baby chicks. It is best for your snake if you feed pre-killed prey; live prey can seriously or fatally injure a captive snake! Offering frozen/thawed prey reduces the risk of parasite transmission and is my personal method of choice.
An exact schedule is not necessary, but about once per week is a good rule of thumb; younger snakes can be fed a little more often (such as every 5 days).
This is usually not a concern except if it is too dry at shedding time. When you notice your snake looking dull, mist its cage daily or provide a humid hide box. Keeping a humid hide box available at all times is a great way to allow your snake to choose extra humidity any time he or she feels the need to do so.
If you find that your snake has not shed in one intact piece, it probably was from too low of a humidity level. If this occurs, you can help your snake out by soaking it or even better by putting it in a small container or paper bag with damp crumple newspapers. Leave it in with the newspaper over night and see if the skin is softened or even completely off the next day. If the skin is soft enough, grasp your snake lightly with a terry towel and let it slide through your hands. The terry towel will grab the skin & the snake can pull it off at its own pace. Don't ever try to peel your snakes skin yourself; you could hurt him or her.
Feces should be removed at least weekly, or even better, as soon as you see it. The whole cage should be sanitized at least monthly, preferably weekly. I use Chlorhexidine to clean which can just be wiped with a paper towel. Other people use bleach water or quaterinary ammonia compounds (not household ammonia cleaner, though you could probabyl use that, too if you can handle the odor); these are very effective but should be rinsed.
The substrate should be kept dry to prevent fungal or bacterial infections, and the water bowl should be washed at least weekly.
Health concerns should be brought to the attention of your herp vet, which you should have located before purchasing your pet. If you don't have a herp vet you will want to find one BEFORE you need one so that you are not left scrambling should there be an emergency. You should also try to find a place that can see your snake should something happen to it after hours. (see LINKS page if you are in the MD/Northern VA area)
A few common corn snake ailments include:
respiratory infection (RI)--wheezing, clicking, holding head up, open mouth breathing, discharge or bubbles from mouth or nostrils.
stomatitis/mouth rot (img)--swelling or soft or hard discharge in or around mouth.
blister disease--blisters or bubbles under the skin often caused by an overly humid enclosure.
scale rot or other skin infections--watch for any unusual coloration or scale deformity, especially on the underside of the snake. This is often caused by an overly moist substrate or general uncleanliness of the enclosure. Can also be secondary to wounds/abrasions.
intestinal parasites--loss of weight, loss of appetite, chronic regurgitation, general failure to thrive. Proper treatment requires knowing what type of parasite may be present via a fecal analysis.
mites/external parasites--mites appear as tiny moving dots (usually black). Are often noticed in the snake's water dish (looks like pepper). Ticks are larger and can be seen with the unaided eye, but my be hidden under scales. I have never had a reptile with mites but have heard excellent things about a product called Provent-a-Mite.
egg binding--This is a serious, potentially life threatening condition that is beyond the scope of this web site. If you suspect your snake is having trouble passing eggs, you should consult a qualified herp vet right away!