Can Corn Snakes be Tamed?

If you are interested in taming a wild snake, the corn snake is great for beginners: I remember a few friends of mine had corn snakes and I loved holding those snakes. Corn snakes just seem to be an ideal pet snake but is it possibile to tame them?

Can corn snakes truly be tamed? Wild or particularly aggressive corn snakes can be tamed after a few weeks of handling in their new environment as a pet, but be aware: If it was found in the wild, it will always be a wild snake. Remember to always be cautious and do not ever let small children be alone with any snake, especially ones found in the wild.

In this article, we’ll go over these simple steps to taming your corn snake: introducing the new environment to the snake, handling the snake regularly and correctly, and how to deprogram any bad behavior if necessary.

Introduce the New Environment to the Snake

It is important to first establish the snake’s new home. You will want to create an ideal environment and this should really be considered before purchasing or capturing the desired pet snake. We love happy pets and snakes are no different from the other pets out there.

I would recommend starting with the cage. Typically, corn snakes grow 2 to 5 feet in length and will require a cage 10 to 20 gallons in size. It goes without saying that the corn snake will want something more exciting than paper towel lining the floor of the tank even though that’s the easiest to clean up. Try sprucing it up with housing, a water supply, places to hide, and an extra heat source. This Amazon search is a great starting point as your search for tank accessories.

This will be new territory for your pet snake, so you want to give it some private time in its new home before you let every kid on the block hold your snake. My suggestion is to let it live in the environment without changing anything for about a week before you try to handle it.

How Do I Handle the Corn Snake?

All who want to hold the snake must wash their hands thoroughly before handling the corn snake. This both eliminates any smells of prey as well as preventing foreign bacteria and disease from entering into the snake’s environment.

Be confident and try extending one hand in front of the snake’s face where they can see you. You want the snake to be aware of you or else you may spook them and risk getting bitten. Gently grab the snake with one hand near the middle. Then grab hold with both hands, one near the head and the other closer to the tail. This helps support the snake’s body weight.

Don’t hold the corn snake by the head or restrain its head movement. That will only irritate it or think you are a predator. Hold the snake loosely to allow it to move freely around your hands and arms. We want the snake to feel comfortable. And just like we want the snake to be in a good mood, it helps to be in a confident and calm mood when handling the snake. The snake will sense any tension and potentially shrink from your presence.

In the beginning, especially if you are afraid of snakes, it’s a good idea to continually point the snake’s head away from your body. This will put distance between its mouth and yourself in the off chance it tries to wiggle out of your hands and onto your chest or elsewhere on your person.

Hold the snake loosely to allow it to move freely around your hands and arms. We want the snake to feel comfortable. 

If a pet animal has a mouth, it will always carry the potential to bite a human owner. This goes for snakes as well as dogs and cats.

To avoid being accidentally bitten, it is a general rule to hold your snake more often than you feed it. If all you ever do is feed it, when you do go to hold the snake, it may instinctively reach out for food. When feeding, corn snakes first bite and then constrict their prey.

While this advice to hold the snake often may not apply to other snake breeds, this certainly is true for corn snakes.

Try handling your corn snake twice a week until the snappy behavior has died down. Some snakes can take longer than others to get comfortable with its owner.

Pre-owned Snakes Can Learn to Be Violent

If your corn snake doesn’t match the gentle little fella I’ve described above but rather wants to use you as biting practice, it may have learned this behavior from a previous owner. It is possible to retrain and reprogram the corn snake to be more friendly and approachable.

First, figure out why it is aggressive. There are two types of aggression in snakes- territorial aggression when the snake feels threatened in what it sees as its space, and the second is feeding responses. Who doesn’t get hangry from time to time?

If it is territoriality aggressive, don’t worry. Snakes are fearful of large predators and humans look terrifying to them. Spend time slowing building up trust by stroking its back while in the cage.

While a hook is a useful tool for large and dangerous snakes, it is unnecessary and a little excessive when trying to tame or retrain a corn snake. However, it is ultimately better to use a hook than to let the snake stay aggressive.

Related Questions

What is the difference between the poisonous coral snake and the corn snake? Coral snakes, which are quite poisonous, look similar to corn snakes in some ways, but there are a few tricks to keep track of which snake is which. To remember, think of this rhyme: Red touches yellow, I’m a dangerous fellow. (Coral snake.) Red touches black, venom I lack. (Corn snake.)

How long can corn snakes go without eating? Baby corn snakes can go 5 to 7 days without a meal, while adults can last 7 to 9 days. This isn’t healthy though, don’t purposely starve your corn snake.

Should I wear gloves while handling the corn snake? It’s always wise to be cautious when handling snakes. Gloves will help protect against biting, even if it is just a thin extra layer. 

Chase Bryan

Chase is a freelance writer and stand-up comic. He currently lives in Idaho where he works on a collection of short stories for children about the son of a Native American Chief.

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