Corn snakes are one of the most common breeds used as pets, and therefore some of the most commonly bred snakes. Pack up your pinky mice and grab all the snake eggs that you can find, because we have a one-way ticket to corn snake breeding central.
So how do you breed and sell corn snakes? Breeding begins at the start of spring. When a female is ready to mate, place her in a breeding enclosure and mist it to ensure the spread of female hormones. When the male is placed in the enclosure, he will usually take immediate notice of the female and mating will ensue.
Breeding may seem like a straightforward process, but thorough care and preparation are needed to ensure that the process goes off without a hitch, and selling your corn snakes for a profit can be even more difficult.
What to Consider Before You Begin the Breeding Process
Breeding corn snakes
Like any hobby, snake breeding can be difficult to begin, but once you get started it can be a lot of fun. But before we jump into the details, let’s consider a few things.
First of all, consider why you want to breed and sell snakes. A lot of those that try to sell their corn snakes for a profit will be sorely disappointing. The corn snake market is sorely over saturated and even the most experienced breeders find it difficult to sell their snake’s brood to anyone, but more on that later.
Generally, breeders are people who have gotten a lot of joy out of owning their corn snake and would like to take their interactions with their snake to the next level. Breeding corn snakes can be a very rewarding process when looked at from that perspective.
Second, consider what you will do with the baby corn snakes when they are born. The average size of a corn snake’s clutch is anywhere from 12 to 24 eggs at a time. That is a lot of kids. Where are you going to put them all?
Remember that young snakes can eat a lot, and each of those snakes will need a big fat mouse, possibly two, a week. If each of those mice costs 50 cents, and you are buying two a week, then you could be spending upwards of $32 a week.
Those prices can add up quickly. Make sure that you have a good home lined up for your snakes if you do not plan on keeping them all. We will discuss potential places to sell later in the article.
Third, remember that breeding could be potentially harmful to the health of your pet corn snake.
Besides that, in my research, I have found stories of one snake simply eating the other when introduced for breeding. These occurrences are very rare, but something you should be aware of.
On top of all that, egg-binding is common with corn snakes. This poses a serious risk to the health of your snake and may lead to serious veterinarian expenses. Remember that all these cases are somewhat unlikely, but you can never be too careful.
I recommend that you check the health of your corn snake before you begin breeding. Breeding is an exhaustive process and if your corn snake is not in tip-top condition, it may get seriously injured.
After considering some of the cons of breeding corn snakes, let’s move on to how to begin the actual breeding process.
How to Breed Your Corn Snakes-Brumation and Lighting
At the start of the breeding process consider the time it will take to breed your snakes. Usually, after all the preparation and time it takes to incubate the eggs and such, the entire breeding process takes about a year. Brace yourself mentally, and we can get started. Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
The first and most important first step is to determine the sex of each of your corn snakes.
This is a common story. A breeder buys two young corn snakes and raises them for years in hopes of getting a healthy brood of baby snakes. When the snakes grow to maturity and mating season begins, he finds his corns aren’t very keen on doing the deed. Whoops. Don’t let that happen to you.
Probing for hemipenes is the most common method to determine the sex of your snake. Please handle your snake gently during this process.In order to activate your snake’s reproductive systems, proper brumation and light exposure are critical. Let’s explore each of these elements separately.
Brumation is like snake hibernation. In a snake’s natural habitat, the winter months usually cause lower temperatures. We attempt to artificially recreate this time by lowering the temperature of your corn snake’s cage. It is recommended to cool the cage to around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit during a duration of anywhere from 60 to 75 days.
The careful observer will notice that although their snake’s activity levels are significantly lower, he is not altogether motionless. He may move around, albeit slowly. During this time, your snake will not eat.
Heat is required to aid the digestion process, although he will drink plenty of water. Make sure that your snake’s water bowl is full as he will take several drinks.
Monitor the humidity in your corn’s enclosure very carefully. It should be a bit drier than normal, but not too much. If you ever find your snake curled up in his water bowl he is not going for a relaxing swim. More than likely it is too dry in the cage.
Remove him from the water immediately. The water is too cold and your snake may die if he his in there for too long. Spray some water in your snake’s tank to keep it humid.
Keep a thermometer in your snake’s tank to closely monitor the temperature. If your snake comes out of brumation too early it may not be ready to mate.
Remember, these colder months of rest are essential for your corn to form the internal sex cells needed for reproduction.
Now let’s talk a little about lighting. Lighting should mimic the shorter days and longer nights that happen during winter. If you are initiating the brumation period during the winter months, you are in luck.
Simply turn your lamp on during the day when you get up, and shut it off at night when it gets dark. If you aren’t so fortunate, make sure that your lamp is on anywhere from 8 to 10 hours a day.
The brumation process can take a while, but this isn’t a bad thing. Take this time to rest, while also making sure that conditions remain normal. Also, this is a good time to select candidates for breeding.
Corn snakes usually reach full sexual maturity at three years, but some people begin mating
How to Breed Your Corn Snakes-After Brumation
After the 60 to 75 days it takes to brumate your snake, you can begin to warm them up again. A lot of people advocate for the gradual warming up of your snakes, but some think this isn’t the best idea.
As you gradually warm up your snakes, you will warm up all kinds of bacteria that may infect your snake while his immune system is still low and cold. To avoid this, it may be better to turn up the heat and light at once.
Make sure to check your corns for any disease or injury they may have sustained during brumation. Snakes need to be in excellent condition before they begin mating.
After a couple of days of warming, your corns should be moving around normally, and they will be hungry. Begin to heavily feed your snakes, doubling their normal diet, in preparation to mating.
After about a month of heating, your male snakes will shed their skin. Keep an eye out for this as it signifies that your male corns are ready to go.
About two weeks after the males have shed their skins, the females will begin shedding as well. This is a crucial step as it signifies that the females are ready to begin mating.
Once the female is shed, move the male to the females cage (it really doesn’t matter who goes to who’s cage. I feel like the male snake should be a gentleman and do most of the moving) and let nature do her work.
The snakes should not have much trouble figuring out what to do. The male will notice right away the female snake in his new surroundings. He may glide up to her and give her a good sniff, but after that, they should get right down to business.
How to Breed Your Corn Snakes-Laying Eggs
Telling whether or not your female corn is gravid (a fancy term used to mean “carrying eggs”) can be difficult. You should be able to notice a slight bulge around her lower half, and a protruding of her belly scales.
She may also display a restless behavior. That is because she is looking for a place to lay her eggs. Once you have determined that the female is gravid, stop introducing the male to her.
Providing an ideal spot for the female to lay her eggs is crucial. P
The interior of the hide box (or whatever you decide to use) should be damp, but not too wet. If you are using moss as a substrate, for example, it should still be a light green color. If it looks dark and brown then that is too much water.
Most mother snakes will protect their clutch and will hardly ever leave. It is still a good idea to keep a bowl of water close to the entrance of your snake’s hide box, as she may grab a drink from time to time.
Before the female snake lays her eggs she will shed her skin one last time and will have stopped eating. If you decide to feed her one last time before she sheds, use only the smallest of meals. Her appetite will not be that big.
Most females will have laid their eggs a couple of weeks after becoming gravid, although a few make take as long as a month.
How to Breed Your Corn Snakes-Caring for the Eggs
Once your corn has laid her eggs she will resume feeding again after a couple of days. Offer her only small meals to begin with, increasing in size until she begins feeding normally again. She should return to normal body weight again very quickly and will shed her skin about two weeks after laying.
At this point, it is possible to reintroduce the male and attempt a second clutch. This could be highly dangerous and is not recommended for first time females.
If you do want to go for a second clutch, I recommend that your female be at least three years old and has had some experience breeding in the past. It is critical that the health of your snake be in prime condition for you to attempt this.
If your female corn seems to be lacking at all in health or weight do not go for the second clutch. The stress on her body may kill her.
After your female has grown to her proper weight, remove her eggs and set them in the incubator. The female corn may put up a bit of a fight when trying to remove her from her clutch, but be a bit aggressive. In her aggravated condition she may bite, so be cautious.
When moving the eggs make sure that you put them “right side up”. In other words, put them in the same direction as they were laid. If you do not, it may complicate the health of the unborn snake. If eggs are stuck together, do not try and separate them. They will almost always tear.
The incubation process is pretty straightforward. As long as the humidity is pretty high and the temperature is anywhere from 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, things should be fine. Any temperature higher than that may lead to birth defects so be careful.
Monitor your eggs periodically. Be on the lookout for infertile eggs. An infertile egg will appear somewhat yellowish and may feel wetter than the fertile ones. If an egg is infertile, it is a good idea to remove it. If you are unsure whether or not an egg is fertile, try separating it from the rest of the group.
If an egg begins to mold, then remove it. Removing moldy eggs is important as the mold may spread and kill the rest of the clutch. This is a rare occurrence, but it has been known to happen.
How to Breed Your Corn Snakes- A Bunch of Baby Snakes
If all goes well during the incubation process, in about a month you should see your baby corns breaking out of their eggs. Resist the urge to help them out, they will come when they are good and ready.
Some people like to remove their corns and set them in a separate enclosure, but it is alright to keep them in the incubator. After a few days, they should shed their skins and be ready for their first meal.
Selling Corn Snakes
Selling corn snakes
You may be able to sell each snake for around $20 dollars a pop, but the money and time spent gathering food and other materials will roughly equal the same per snake. You may be able to get a little profit, but it isn’t likely.
If you are still determined to sell your corns though, you do have a couple of options. Some local pet stores are willing to buy your snake’s brood but don’t expect them to shell out the big bucks to buy them.
Large chain pet stores like Petsmart will not buy anything off of you. Your best bet is to try and sell them online.
Once again, this is not a profitable venture, and I do not recommend it for income purposes.
Are corn snakes easier to breed than other snakes? Corn snakes are usually an easier snake to breed than, say, a green tree python. The process of breeding corns is pretty simple and a great way to get started in snake breeding.
Is there any snake that will turn a profit breeding? Not really. A lot of people have tried in the past, but in order to turn a profit with any snake, you would need industrial style equipment. Best just to keep it a hobby.
Do I need any special license to breed and sell snakes? Generally, you do not need a special license to breed snakes, but that differs from state to state. The best thing to do is do a quick google search before you get started. Also, most shipping companies require special licensing before shipping reptiles.