When will my new pet(s) be delivered?
FedEx is the most reliable live animal shipper we have ever used.  Literally, 99.9% of all packages we ship arrive the day after shipping.  Generally speaking, packages shipped to destinations within large cities are anticipated to be delivered before 10:30 am, before noon if just outside the city, and before 4:30 pm when destinations are remotely located from cities. Weather is one factor that can cause package not to be delivered on time, but another primary factor is mechanical difficulties (i.e. trucks or planes that experience problems that cause delays).  In so much as such things cannot be predicted, all door-to-door carriers have a disclaimer that packages may be delivered late, should such unavoidable problems occur. Therefore, while the tracking hyperlink emailed to you will reveal the expected delivery time of day, should such unavoidable events occur, delivery of your package may be delayed. Hence, we recommend you plan for someone to be available for the entire day. One of your options is to have it delivered to a FedEx office for you to pick up when convenient for you.  The tracking hyperlink you receive will advise you of tracking progress and denote the time your package is ready for pick up. Some of our customers have their package shipped to their place of work or to a neighbor or friend when the suspect nobody can be home to accept delivery. Let us know if one of those options is better for you than home delivery.
What size will my new SMR snake be when it arrives?
The hatching season changes from one year to another, but generally speaking, it is between July and October.  The first wave of eggs hatch between May and August, and approximately two months later the second (and final) batch of eggs hatch between September and October.  Therefore, unless you have ordered older snakes from the previous season(s) whose ages will be advertised, the size and age of your new pet will depend on when you order and when they hatched. We consider corns to be hatchlings until they are one year old.  After that time, they are considered yearlings until their second birthday.

What should I do upon first receiving my new corn snake?
Prior to receiving your new pet snake, your cage should be set up for days (or weeks), to sufficiently demonstrate the most important facet of snake keeping; HEAT.  In so much as snakes are not capable of producing body heat sufficient for appetite and digestion, ensuring the cage is properly heated is the most crucial prerequisite to the health and welfare of your snake(s).  Our Online Corn Snake CARE SHEET describes all crucial details regarding the set-up and heating of your cage.

How safe and reliable is reptile shipping via door-to-door, next day service?                                                                                                                    Using FedEx live animal shipping services since 2002, we have averaged less than one d.o.a. (dead on arrival) snake per year. FedEx’s handling procedures and subsequent reliability make them the only door-to-door carrier we will use for the thousands of corns we ship annually. All orders are shipped for next day delivery – usually arriving before noon – and each box is custom packed to facilitate comfort and safety for the animals.

How will I know if or when my snake needs to eat larger rodents?
An effective (if not simplistic) way of determining if you are feeding prey items that are too small for normal growth is to observe the size of the stomach bulge that corresponds to a recent meal. If that meal bulge is not obvious in the mid-section of the snake (approximate location of the stomach) 24 hours after feeding, you should be able to safely move up to the next sequential rodent size IF cage conditions are conducive to digestion. The normal progression of mouse sizes for corns is: small pinky → medium pinky → large pinky → fuzzy → hopper → weaned → small adult → medium adult → large adult.

What does MORPH mean, relative to particular types of corns?
MORPH is to Corn Snake Herpetoculture what BREED is in the dog world. Essentially all of them being the same species (Pantherophis guttatus) but with different polygenetic features that distinguish them from other morphs, mutations, and wild-types.

Where can I find frozen rodents?
Testimonies from thousands of customers over the years indicate that the most satisfactory sources for frozen rodents are the many online frozen rodent suppliers located across the U.S.. Of course, I presume the same can also be said about rodent vendors in other countries of the world. There is nothing inherently wrong with getting frozen mice from your local pet stores, as long as the stores have demonstrated a consistent inventory of quality rodents in the sizes you need (or will later need). It can be frustrating (if not devastating) to have your local pet store tell you they are out of the small pinkies you ordinarily buy, but have plenty of fuzzies, even though those are obviously too large for your snake to safely consume. The best advice I have in those situations is to let the snake go one more week without eating, giving you time to purchase the proper mouse size from an alternate source. It’s traditionally safer to let your snake skip a week of feeding, rather than your snake potentially becoming ill from regurgitating a meal that was too large to digest.
Regarding which of the online rodent suppliers to recommend, based on my limited patronage with a few of the largest national suppliers, I cannot say which ones are consistently better or worse than others. That said; the obvious wisdom in the realm of economy is that the landed cost of your mice will be lower when purchased from the suppliers nearest to you, by virtue of dry ice shipping being less expensive when trucked shorter distances. Consider “sampling” the smallest possible orders from several suppliers, so as to evaluate which one has the best product and service within your budget.
I personally prefer rodents that are vacuum-packaged, since I thaw hundreds of rodents at a time, and prefer to serve them to the snakes dry, with the least amount of time between being solidly frozen and completely thawed. With non-vacuum-packed products, it’s not possible for me to serve dry rodents to my snakes since the non-vacuumed packages are riddled with punctures from hundreds of needle-sharp claws. When I do use non-vacuum packed rodents, I prefer to empty the bags of frozen mice into warm water. Except for the extra hour or two for them to dry after wet-thawing, the only asset from thawing this way is that the warm water washes away fecal debris, cage bedding, and some of the other residual odors. I could allow the zip-sealed bags to air dry on tables or on the floor, but room air drying is time-consuming, and depending on the temperature of the room or contact surface, the thawing time can be anywhere from three to five hours.  Open air thawing also potentially exposes your mice to insects and household pets. Additionally, the debris in the freezer bag still clings to the thawed mice, and most unwashed mice have a decidedly unpleasant odor that can only be reduced by water thawing or rinsing. I can thaw 500 vacuum-sealed adult mice in one sink of warm water in one hour or less if I refresh the water two or three times to maintain thawing temperatures. The reason I prefer this way is because I do not recall ever being offended by the smell of my primary supplier’s vacuum-sealed mice, nor do I recall seeing ANY feces or cage bedding in any of the thousands of packages of mice I’ve received from Big Cheese Rodent Factory. The consistently-sized flat foam trays also stack better in the freezer than do the bulky and variably shaped zip-sealed bags, and this allows me to buy bigger lots of rodents at a time. Did I mention that with vacuum-packed products from my supplier, the rodents are aligned in linear, single-file fashion on a flat foam tray with claws pointed away from the plastic bagging to maintain vacuum? Because few packages are punctured, most can be thawed in warm water, yielding thawed mice that do not require drying or cleaning.  I have received and satisfactorily used non-vacuumed packages of mice from other vendors and except for a stronger odor that virtually all of my snakes were unoffended by, the only negative distinction was the extra time between being frozen and dry-served. As it is with foods consumed by humans, cold food should remain cold as long as possible and not served to your snakes if over-exposed to room temperatures.
Any package of whole frozen animals (vs. processed animal parts without internal organs) should have a somewhat undesirable smell, but pungent and offensive odors could be signs of spoilage and/or non-hygienic housing conditions prior to freezing. I recommend buying white (albino) rodents – as a total lack of color in their coats is an outward indicator of a higher product quality – as a probable result of better hygiene practiced at the breeding facility. When purchasing white rodents, if the fur is excessively color-stained (i.e. from urine or fecal matter), excessively tangled, has fecal matter or cage bedding stuck to it, and/or if the smell when initially opening the package is abruptly offensive, consider not feeding those rodents to your snakes. Some of these could be indications of nothing more than animals that were not clean before packing, but sometimes it is difficult to discern between rodents not healthfully maintained prior to freezing and rodents that were spoiled prior to (or during) shipping or storage.  Another good reason to buy white rodents is that any discolored ones you notice after thawing could have been exposed to room temperatures for too long between killing and freezing, rendering them partially spoiled (having excessive populations of bacteria, etc.) and are therefore easy to identify and destroy. The tell-tale blue/black coloration of the skin beneath the fur may escape your detection if not so obvious beneath a coat of white fur. Before ordering frozen rodents, have a clear understanding of the seller’s terms of service regarding their return and/or refund policies – in cases where you are totally dissatisfied with product quality.

Can I feed live rodents to my corn?
Obviously, live rodents are on the menu in the wild, but the main distinction between wild corns eating live mice and your captive corns eating live mice is too complicated to describe. Among the distinctions is the fact that the captive corn has limited retreat options if it needs to get away from a particularly vicious mouse, and captivity surely diminishes the natural instincts that their wild counterparts maintain to survive. Therefore, if there is only a one-in-100 chance of a live mouse injuring a captive corn, it is obvious that the chance of such a feeding injury with a dead mouse is closer to zero-in-100. BTW, from speaking to thousands of customers over the years that fed live rodents to their corns, only one or two per 100 keepers reported seeing serious injuries from live mice, and those events represented incidence frequency of more like one-in-1,000 feedings. Healthy captive corns are very powerful, and even though it may appear that they seize a live mouse haphazardly, most attacks on live mice are calculated, precise, and inherently safe. More details can be found on this subject (and others) in the CARE SHEET of this web site.

Why did my snake suddenly stop eating?
Temperature is the number-one reason for a normally vigorously feeding snake to refuse a meal for no apparent reason. If the warm hide in the cage was too warm, it would cause a corn to occupy cooler parts of the cage. If the warm hide is too cool, either that hide or other parts of the cage are equally non-conducive to appetite and digestion. In both cases, most corns choose fasting over instinctively perceived illness, essentially rationalizing that there is no point in eating something they are incapable of digesting. Some of the common reasons for unobvious food refusals are:
1) Not hungry
2) Preparing to shed
3) Prey item is too large
4) Prey item smells bad to your snake
5) Nervousness from activity or handling prior to the meal offering
6) Close proximity to cage mates or other household pets at the time of feeding
7) Some adult males may refuse food if in proximity to adult females during breeding season
8) Most adult females will refuse food in the final stages of egg production
Of course, if your snake suffers from an illness, they often refuse to eat. If you suspect this, do not waste too much time in seeking a qualified reptile veterinarian to examine your snake. More details can be found on this subject (and others) in the CARE SHEET of this web site.

Is it safe to feed wild mice?
Even if you sufficiently froze wild rodents, there is no guarantee they didn’t ingest poisons prior to freezing. Freezing may efficiently kill many parasites in or on the rodent, but will not neutralize poisons.  Hence, I cannot think of any justification for feeding wild mice to your corn snakes. Of course, besides the potentiality of poisoning your snake, feeding a live wild mouse could endanger your snake via serious bite injuries from naturally aggressive rodents. More details can be found on this subject (and others) in the CARE SHEET of this web site.

What other animals are safe to feed my corn?
Ground-feeding animals like lizards, frogs, toads, and birds, obviously harbor parasites and other pathogens they ingested from feeding off the ground. Freezing kills most of the pathogens, but how do you know they weren’t exposed to toxins prior to freezing. I knew a keeper who killed his corn by feeding it Anole lizards. Since young corns in the southern states of their U.S. range subsist almost solely on lizards, when I asked where he got the lizards, he said they were found in abundance around the railroad tracks near his home. It was later discovered that defoliants were sprayed by the railroad maintenance crews, and he may have inadvertently poisoned his snake with lizards that had the chemical on their skin. Therefore, I don’t know of any substitute food that offers the correct balance of nutrition offered by captive-bred rodents, and therefore recommend feeding nothing else to your corns. Corns of any size should NEVER be fed insects of any kind.

How fast will my new SMR corn grow?
As a rule, adult female corns average 3.5 to 4.0 feet in length at maturity.  Males are generally 4.0 to 4.5 feet long when fully grown. A corn snake over five feet long is rare and I have never seen one that was six feet long.  When most corns hatch, they are between eight and 11 inches long. Growth rates are dependent upon genetics and feeding regimens, but if you feed one appropriately sized prey item every week, your corn should grow about 1/2 to one inch per month.  Cage temperatures also play a factor in determining growth. The once-a-week feeding regimen is considered growth-nominal to slightly below nominal (but nutritionally safe) at proper cage temperatures. Average growth for corn snakes in captivity that are fed every four to six days (only done in properly safe cage conditions – see CARE SHEET on this web site) is 12 to 18 inches per year.  Prey size can also alter those growth projections. Also, once corns graduate from fur-less pinky mice to fuzzies, an obvious growth spurt results that will accelerate growth rates.

Why did my snake regurgitate?
There are many reasons for snakes to regurgitate/vomit a recently consumed meal, but it is NOT natural, and often points to a serious medical or environmental problem. More than likely, the stimulus for the regurgitation points to an environmental problem in the cage (usually incorrect temperature), but regardless, it is crucial that you do not offer another meal soon after such an event, without first correcting the stimulus for the event and/or without employing post-regurgitation therapies.

What should I use to clean cages and accessories?
I have experimented with many commercially manufactured cleansers, and I now use just two. I wash all cages and cage furnishings with OTC (over-the-counter) antibacterial dishwashing liquids and I then sanitize with a dilute bleach/water solution, followed by water rinsing.

What is the best way to pick up my corn?
Even though corns are considered a domesticated species by virtue of being captive-bred so extensively, they are not instinctively trusting of any animal that is larger than themselves. It is therefore prudent to observe some of the “rules of engagement” that have proven to be most successful. Other than the first few days after receiving your new pet (during the process of acclimating to the new environment), when reaching to pick up your corn, approach it without delay. Sometimes, if you are slow to pick up a corn or make hesitating gestures in the process, it may distrust your intentions. Pick up your corn snake mid-body without hesitation, but do not attempt to grab it by the neck or tail, as these are the most defensively sensitive areas of any snake. If your snake seems to resent being grasped, put your fingers under it and lift it out of the cage. Letting its body rest on your hand instead of constraining it by grasp reduces the chance of the snake misidentifying you as a predator. Make sure your hands are clean (devoid of food and pet smells) and don’t let other household pets near you while holding your corn until you know the particular reaction of your snake to those stimuli. Most corns are not attracted to or intimidated by other household pets, but until you know your snake to be one of those, don’t risk being mistakenly bitten because your snake sensed a predator.

Why didn’t my corn shed in one complete piece?
Even if you live in parts of the country with relatively high humidity, home furnaces during the winter can dehydrate your snake’s cage and your snake. Refrigeration Air Conditioners also dehydrate air in your home, but not as much as most home furnaces.  Make certain your cage is not overheated, and it may be necessary to soak your snake in water to help it shed OR if you prefer to be proactive, many corn keepers put damp sphagnum moss inside the warm hide for the entire ten-day shedding process. This will super-hydrate the old skin, making partial sheds less frequent.

Is municipal tap water safe for corns?
Your corn snake should always have access to clean drinking water. The water should be routinely changed – at least twice a week – and immediately – if soiled or cloudy-looking. City tap water often contains antibacterial chemicals that can be in relatively harmful proportions for small snakes. Filtered drinking water (affordably available at all grocery stores) is recommended, but do not use distilled water, as it lacks valuable minerals essential for proper nutrition in your pet. Home water softeners add minerals and chemicals such as sodium (or potassium) and are therefore not recommended. I believe adult corns can tolerate the municipal tap water more-so than the neonates.

Why is my snake trying to bite me?
Improper cage temperatures are the most likely stimulus for snakes biting humans. Expect distrusting and defensive behavior the first few days after receiving your new snake, but most corns are highly tolerant of humans, and bites from them are therefore rare. Often, during the shedding process that lasts ten days or more, corns have impaired vision from the old skin covering their eyes. They are instinctively aggressive toward anything near them until emerging from the old skin when their site is restored.

How do I recover an escaped corn?
The first 48 hours offer your best chance for recovery. Corns are naturally nocturnal so if loose in your home, they will cruise around at night in search of comfortable temperatures. As a rule, if they don’t find what they seek the first night, they hole up and try again the next night. For the first 48 hours after escape, they are usually in the room from which they escaped (or very close to it), but after a couple of nights of not finding their cage, they usually begin to search in other rooms of the house.
If not found in the first 14 days, they are sometimes killed by household pets or from injuries sustained from accidentally being crushed under rugs. It is a good idea to leave water bowls on the floor next to a wall of each room, in case it cannot otherwise access drinking water.
The most successful retrieval method is a tape trap. Akin to the flypaper concept, the idea is to leave a piece of inexpensive painter’s tape where they will get stuck to it.
Do not use excessively sticky tape or you will never get them off in one piece. Of course, it would take a very large piece to entangle an adult corn, but neonates are usually incapable of escaping even small pieces of tape.
For neonatal corns, a length of tape approximately 12″ x 1/2″ (30 x 1.3 cm) will suffice. When corns are loose in your home, they tend to hug the walls as they search for warmth and water, so put the tape on the floor next to the walls. You can either curl both ends of the tape so it will stick to the floor with most of the sticky surface facing up or you can just let a piece fall to the floor much like you would drop a piece of ribbon. Dropping it results in the tape landing on the floor in a random heap, with sticky surfaces facing in more than one direction. When you remove the snake from the tape, do so very slowly or you may rip its skin. Sometimes warm water helps loosen the adhesive of the tape.

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Don Soderberg 
South Mountain Reptiles
Canyon Lake, TX

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