If you are looking to own a pet corn snake, then one of the first things you will likely want to know will be how long they live. Its important information too. It helps us to set our expectations, help us to prepare and equally, can give us great reassurance that we have looked after them as best as we can during the time that we have had them.
So, how long do corn snakes live in captivity? Corn snakes live for an average of 15 years in captivity, although up to 20 years has been reported. This is much longer than the life expectancy of a wild corn snake, which is typically around 5-10 years. As owners, there are some practical things we can do to ensure they live longer and healthier lives.
As you can see, if you are looking to get a corn snake, it should be with you for quite some time. However, in order for this to happen, you will need to take care of them as best as you can. The enclosure is of utmost important, as is the diet that you feed over the course of their lives.
Let us now explore the topic in greater detail; so that you can understand those factors that impact longevity as best as you can and ensuring you get it right for your corn snakes longevity.
Corn Snake Life Expectancy
Corn snakes are known for having a long life expectancy, in comparison to some other species.
Most corn snakes will live to at least 10 years of age, but it can be expected that they make it to their mid-teens with proper care. In fact, some owners have reported that they have owned their corn snakes for over 20 years!
Corn snakes in captivity are known to live longer than their wild counterparts. In the wild, the average lifespan is around 5-10 years.
We are able to extend the life of the average corn snake when kept as pets; because we can provide a great level of care, minimize risk to predators and give them a more rounded protected life. This essentially shields them from a number of life threatening events and episodes that they would otherwise encounter.
However, corn snakes kept as pets do not just live longer without reason. They do require appropriate care and attention.
As an owner, this therefore means that you provide them with a suitably-sized enclosure, and create a habitat that meets their needs and requirements.
This means that is is sufficiently large and provides them with a shallow pool of water that they can bathe in and drink. There is a thing as too much water too! The enclosure also needs to have a suitable substrate, and be sufficiently warm.
You also need to ensure you feed them an optimal diet; providing foods they do best with while excluding those that are not safe or advisable. Snakes are carnivorous, so you’ll need to provide them with mice and other small prey.
Equally, you will need to monitor their health over time and be willing and able to take them to a reptile specialist and veterinarian if sickness or injury was to arise. All snakes are susceptible to infections – so it is important that you keep their environment clean and limit bacteria from building up where you can.
Importance of Enclosure and Habitat For Corn Snake Longevity
Snakes do best when kept in an enclosure that is appropriately sized. It should be in accordance with the size and weight of the snake.
So, as you can imagine, this will likely change over the course of your snakes life.
To begin with, this will likely mean that you house your corn snake in a small vivarium. This is what is most often recommended for corn snakes during this phase of life.
However, over the course of a few months and as your corn snakes grows, you will need to replace the enclosure. You essentially need to provide them with more space.
While you may think of just placing your baby corn snake in an adult-sized enclosure to save money; this is not actually recommended and is equally not recommended. Snakes need to live in an enclosure that is neither too big nor too small for them.
As adults, corn snakes can reach up to 6 feet in length. This is why a 20-gallon enclosure at a minimum is often suggested. While this may sound like a lot, remember your snake needs ample space to move around.
You will need to stay on top of regular cleaning of your snakes enclosure; this will keep urine and feces from harboring bacteria and germs which can lead to illness in your snake if not cleaned up quickly enough.
By doing this you will be providing your corn snake with a healthier environment and should be promoting longevity in your snake.
Its important to remember that snakes are cold-blooded. For this reason you will need to keep the enclosure sufficiently warm and within a certain humidity range.
Experts, including the Royal Veterinary College (from the University of London) suggest that the temperature of your corn snakes enclosure should be around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity should remain around 50-60% range.
Taking it one step further, you should also look to ensure the enclosure has some additional items for your corn snake. Branches are one such example of which to include, and this will give them the opportunity to climb which is a natural behaviour and tendency for them.
As solitary creatures, corn snakes also like to have a place to retreat and hide. Providing hideaway, caves or tree bark boxes is again recommended.
Substrate is something in which you will need to use; and this will need to be changed regularly. When choosing a substrate look for safe options. Moss is often used along with Aspen shavings and coconut fibers. You’ll often find your snake burrowing inside it.
Lastly and as previously mentioned, corn snakes are not social and do best when kept alone in their own enclosure. They do not do well with enclosure buddies!
The only exception to this rule is during mating and therefore only male and female corn snakes should be put together during this time. But, once the business is done they are better off being kept alone again.
Importance of Diet For Corn Snake Longevity
Like most species of snake, corn snakes are carnivorous. So, they need to eat a diet exclusively of specific animal foods. Insects and crickets do not suffice.
Instead, corn snakes should eat predominantly dead mice. They need to do so once every 2 weeks.
Larger, adult corn snakes may be offered rats, but again these should be pre-killed and not all corn snakes will be able to eat anything beyond mice.
If a corn snake is not fed an appropriate diet, their life expectancy naturally falls.
This is partly why wild corn snakes do not tend to live as long as those in captivity; they do not have an optimal supply of dead mice presented to them at optimal times. Diet is rather limiting to a wild snake; they eat what they can get for survival. Its not always optimal.
But as an owner, you have the ability to ensure your corn snake gets the best diet they can.
So, again this means offering food that is best for the age of the snake.
Baby corn snakes therefore should begin with small, baby mice and pinkies.
Adult corn snakes will eat adult mice, and in some cases may eat small or baby rats.
If you are struggling to know what is appropriate for your corn snake; speak to your vet. But a good general rule of thumb is that food should never be much larger than the width of the head of your snake. Any bigger than this and the snake will not be able to get their jaws around the food and will not be able to swallow it.
Wild snakes will go out proactively looking for food; and for this reason, they will mostly eat prey that is still alive.
For pet corn snakes, food should be offered dead. However, you may find that your snake will not eat dead mice right away. This often occurs in new snakes recently brought into the home – as they try to adapt to their new enclosure and habitat.
Therefore, in this context you can look to offer them a live mouse. But, make sure it is small as a live mouse can attack out of fear and harm your snake!
However, snakes do generally well and do not have issues with dead food.
Lastly, your snake will require access to fresh clean drinking water that is changed often. Otherwise, they could be drinking their own urine!
Dirt water must be swapped out promptly to ensure they do not consume their excrement.
Age-Related Health Problems In Corn Snakes
All living things are susceptible to more health conditions as they age. Their chances of becoming ill and sick increase as they get older, and the severity of such increases too.
For corn snakes, they are most likely to get an infection of the respiratory system, or bone infections around their mouth area.
The most common symptoms of an infection are: difficulties breathing, skin bumps, excessive shedding and a white discharge around the mouth.
Dermatitis is also common, and this causes the scales and skin to become inflamed and begin to peel. The main cause of Dermatitis is an enclosure that is not cleaned often enough and is too humid for their needs. While it is true that corn snakes require humidity, too much can cause these kind of issues.
Any infection, illness or condition should be brought to the attention of a reptile veterinarian as early as possible. This will give them the best chance of a full recovery.
Ultimately, caring for a snake as they age becomes more challenging. It requires regular monitoring and and increased sense of care and upkeep of their living quarters.
Corn snakes live quite a long time in captivity; almost double that of their wild counterparts.
If you take care of your corn snake, and are sure to meet their needs and requirements, you can expect them to live from anywhere between 10-20 years.
Appropriate enclosure size, sufficient habitat modifications, regular cleaning and diet are all equally important to ensuring your corn snake lives a long, happy life.
As a pet snake owner, while they may prefer to be on their own and hide away, they rely on you solely to meet their needs and requirements.
We owe it to them, to do this as best as we can.