Corn snakes do not usually feed every day, but feed every few days, depending on the age and size of the snake.
Many owners suggest feeding in a bin outside of the snake's housing so that there is no chance of the snake of accidentally ingesting its bedding which can lead to impaction of the item in its internal digestive system and can lead to death. Corn Snakes should always be fed alone and not with another snake. If two snakes try to feed on the same prey they can inadvertently eat each other.
Corn snakes are constrictors. The snake will initially bite its prey to get a firm grip, then coil its body around the prey and suffocate the animal by tightening its grip every time the prey exhales. Then it swallows the food whole, usually head first. However, corn snakes have also been observed swallowing small prey alive. Constricting prey is a basic instinct for snakes and they will perform this action in the wild and in captivity.
In the wild, young hatchlings tend to feed on small animals such as lizards, tree frogs, even crickets. Adults feed on larger prey, such as mice, rats, chicks, small birds and bats.
In captivity, corn snakes should be fed captive-bred rodents only to avoid the transfer of parasites. Live food will fight with sharp teeth and claws which could injure your snake so your snake should only be fed killed food. If you feed live prey, be sure not to leave the snake unattended. A snake who is not hungry when live prey is introduced into the enclosure often finds itself becoming the meal, especially if the prey is a rat.
A live mouse can be prekilled. Frozen mice in a variety of sizes can be purchased quite reasonably. Of course, thaw the mouse completely in warm water before feeding so it is warmed through. When defrosted, use forceps or tongs to pick up the rodent by the tail, and hold the prey in front of the snake for the snake to strike at. Throw away any uneaten food promptly. Do not refreeze. Fed too large of a size of a mouse may cause the snake to vomit. Fed too small of a mouse will cause stunted growth.
Hatchling corns will eat one mouse pinkie (newborn mouse) once or twice a week. They will often want more, but feeding more than this can be dangerous to the health of your snake unless you have adequate temperatures and space for exercise. Snakes will regurgitate if they do not have a warm area or if they are handled too soon after they eat. Handling should be avoided for a full 48 hours or until the meal is digested and no lump can be seen in the snake's belly.
As your snake grows, gradually increase the prey size by offering fuzzies, crews, then small adult mice or rat pinkies. A full-grown corn snake can eat a medium to large mouse.
An active snake will happily eat every week to 10 days or so. Adult females will feed more frequently than adult males (especially following brumation). Each snake is different, so adjust the snake's meals size, quantity, and the frequency accordingly.
It is acceptable to feed two mice in one single feeding if the snake does not show a significant lump in its stomach after feeding and the owner has leftover prey items. However, this should not be practiced for a long period of time due to the fact that a single larger prey item will contain more nutrients than two smaller prey items. The snake will benefit from the addition nutrients of the larger prey versus the two smaller items.
A good rule of thumb is to feed a mouse that is about the size of the widest girth of the snake. You should also consider the appearance of the snake after it has eaten the prey. The size of the lump should be visible for 12 to 24 hours after feeding. If it is not visible during this time, you may need to move up to the next size rodent. If the lump is still visible after several days, it might be advisable to reduce the size of the prey. Prey items that are too large can result in regurgitation as the rate of decomposition exceeds the rate of digestion and there isn't room for the swelling meal.
Corn snakes will not eat if it is too cold, but they are rarely picky eaters if they have the proper heat and enclosure. The snake may also vomit his food if he is too cold or is shedding. Vomitting can be a sign of illness.
Corn snakes can fast for long periods, but only if they have to. If the snake refuses the rodent for any reason, remove it and offer it on another day. If your snake continues to refuse food, consult a professional for advice. Do not repeatedly offer what it does not want to eat as the snake may become conditioned to not want that prey item in the future and you may be wasting valuable time in correcting potential health problems.
Clean water should be available at all times, corn snakes drink often.
The below chart provided by D. Arnold that is a general guideline on how much to feed your corn snake to ensure it gets the nutrition it needs.
|Snake Weight||Mouse Type||Mouse Weight||Frequency|
|4–15 g||Single Pinky||2–3 g||4–5 days|
|16–23 g||Double Pinky||2–3 g times two||4–5 days|
|24–30g||Small Fuzzies||5–7 g||5–6 days|
|30–50 g||Regular Fuzzies||7–9 g||5–6 days|
|51–90 g||Hoppers||9–12 g||5–6 days|
|91–170 g||Weaned||14–20 g||7 days|
|170–400 g||Adult||24–30 g||7 to 10+ days|
|400g+||Jumbo Adults||40–50 g||7 to 10+days|