Housing

Corn snakes are resourceful escapists, so, be sure the cage (vivarium) you use has a secure and tightly-fitting closure. In general, snakes require fresh air, but excessive ventilation can dangerously cool the cage with potentially deadly consequences. We, therefore recommend top ventilation such as screen tops made for aquaria; not cages with screen sides. 

For hatchling corn snakes, a small enclosure (floor dimensions of 12″ x 8″ and at least 3″ tall = 30.5cm x 20.3cm x 7.6cm) with adequate ventilation will be suitable until they reach approximately 24″ in (61cm) length, but larger vivaria are more appropriately heated by way of offering two or more distinct thermal zones–not always possible in very small enclosures.  More details regarding the importance of thermal zones are below in the HEATING section of this care guide. 

These neonates (newly hatched) corn snakes can escape from any cage with gaps or holes the size of their snout.

For adults, the cage length should be approximately 1/2 the length of the snake (or larger); a 15 or 20 gallon (56.8 or 75.7 liter) aquarium with a locking lid is adequate for the lifetime of most corns. Many owners of young corn snakes begin with a 10-gallon (37.9 liter) aquarium and upgrade to a 15- or 20-gallon (56.8 or 75.7 liter) fish tank as their snake grows. If you prefer not to have more than one cage throughout the lifetime of your snake, there is nothing harmful about making a 15-20-gallon 56.8 or 75.7 liter (or larger) enclosure the first and only cage they will know. Having only one functional lung, corns are considered “low-aerobic” pets.  Therefore, corns do not require a spacious cage, but naturally, larger vivaria afford them the benefit of more exercise, thereby facilitating better muscle tone. 

While aquariums are the most widely used cages for corn snakes, they are by no means the only efficient enclosures. The main reason they are the cage of choice is that their glass construction not only offers better viewing of your pet but has the greatest number of options for heating.  The see-through cage sides increase detection of feces and fecal smudges that can harbor germs throughout the cage. If you use a cage that does not have a glass floor, research your heating options, since UT heaters (safest and most commonly used heat-emitting devices for snakes) are not safe for contact with many materials other than glass.

It is recommended that each snake have its own cage. While cannibalism among corn snakes is relatively rare in communal housing scenarios, it can happen without notice, regardless of what preventive measures are taken.  The blizzard corn snake hatchling in this picture dined on one of its siblings, mistaking it for a meal. 

Communal housing of corns of any size is inherently dangerous and therefore ill-advised.

Q:  Guess who this newly-hatched Blizzard corn just ate?
A:  His brother, Larry.

Even though eating other snakes is not common for corn snakes, environmental stresses and residual odors on cage mates can entice nearly any corn snake to eat another snake – since their most trusted sense is that of smell.  If a sibling smells like an instinctive food for corns, it’s on the menu for its cage mates. 
Until corns are over 30″ (76cm) long, they can overpower other snakes that are even larger than themselves, but it’s extremely rare for this to happen in communal scenarios when both snakes are over 30″ (76cm) long.
I consider this 20-gallon single-occupancy Corn Snake vivarium, designed and used by customer and friend, Bill Weber Jr – Tega Cay, SC to be the perfect corn snake cage.

Legend:
1.  Warm hide (coconut half-shell) above the UT heater
2.  Cool hide (coconut half-shell)
3.  Passive hide (artificial greenery)
4.  Passive hide (artificial greenery)
5.  Passive hide (ornate tree branch)
6.  Passive hide (aspen substratum)
7.  Hygrometer
8.  Monitor for thermometer probe inside warm hide
9.  Water bowl (molded composite plastic)
Notice that the hide openings are not facing the indirect lighting of the window, and the depth of the aspen bedding substrate serves as both temperature buffer and a virtual subterranian hide that spans the entire cage – allowing the snake to utilize all temperate zones therein. Of course, as the resident of this palace grows, the size of its hides will also.
All snakes can benefit from fluorescent UV lighting, but it is not necessary for corns. Corn snakes are nocturnal by nature and for thousands of years have not required direct sunlight to survive. Indirect light from a window or artificial room lighting is sufficient to represent the transition from day to night. Do not position your corn snake’s cage near a window where dangerous greenhouse-effect heating from the sun can endanger your its life, unless adequate diffusion is provided — as seen in this photograph.