Do corn snakes need a heat lamp?

Table of Contents

The corn snake is a subspecies of rat snake native to the southeastern United States. Their natural range covers most of Texas’s southern states to Kansas and parts of New England in the north. Most of them live in open woods, deforestation, and forest edges. They seem to like human facilities and can be found in places like farms and outbuildings. Even though corn snakes are mainly terrestrial creatures, they will climb mountains if given the opportunity, especially when looking for potential food.

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They are the most common pet snakes to keep and reproduce among all snakes. Therefore, they are by far the most common first pet snake. They seldom (if ever) bite people and show great resistance when captured.

As cold-blooded animals, they need an additional source of heat when the weather is cold, and this is why their owners need to install a heat source in their enclosure. In this article, you will learn about the heat sources that are recommended for this creature.

Do hognose snakes hibernate
do hognose snakes hibernate

Recommended Temperatures, Lighting & Humidity for Corn Snakes

Since corn snakes are most active at night, many people say there is no need to use lighting beyond the natural light cycle in the house/reptile room. This is not correct. Like the bright sunlight in the wild, corn snakes also need a day/night cycle in captivity. Providing special lighting for glass containers helps regulate the natural biological rhythm of snakes and encourage natural behaviour.

So, the corn snake light should be on for 12 hours every day; if you need to make a more regular day/night cycle for your pet, attempt 13 hours of light in summer and 11 hours of continuous winter lighting. Providing a seasonal photoperiod can help promote more natural hormonal rhythms in snakes, thereby improving overall health.

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Do Corn Snakes Need UVB?

During the day, wild corn snakes are sometimes exposed to different levels of UVB wavelengths. The traditional view shows that most snakes do not need UVB, and countless years of artificial reproduction have proved that they can indeed survive. However, recent studies (especially the works of Francis Baynes) increasingly show that UVB is very beneficial to snakes’ physical and mental health. This is beyond the requirements of survival and is part of ensuring the growth of animals in captivity. Does exposure to UVB light affect the growth rate and behaviour of the hatched corn snake Pantherophis guttatus? It is thoroughly recommended that UVB lighting be used for captive corn snakes. It is easy to argue that UVB regulations must also be followed to comply with Mellor’s five regulations on captive animals’ welfare.

UVB is strongly recommended for all pet reptiles (including corn snakes). To incorporate UVB into your feeding range, please use T5 HO UVB fluorescent tubes. For example, 22″ Zoo Med Reptisun T5 HO 5.0 or 22″ Arcadia Forest 6% is supplanted at regular intervals. It is encouraged that you try not to utilize different brands/sorts of UVB bulbs.  We especially recommend Zoo Med and Arcadia because other brands have proven to be unreliable or even unsafe.

How to Install a UVB For a Corn Snake:

The UVB intensity of reptiles depends on the distance between the reptile and the bulb, so when installing a heating area, it is very important to consider the distance. Assuming that the lamp is placed on a mesh structure to prevent the snake from directly contacting the bulb, the mesh structure will cause the bulb output to decrease by about 40%. This implies that the warming zone ought to be set around 7-9 crawls beneath the light for protected and successful use.

If possible, we recommend that you purchase a Solarimeter 6.5 to track the UVB bulbs’ output in the sun. As a low-ultraviolet species, corn snakes should have a UVI of 2.0-3.0 in areas where they are basking in the sun. This area should be the area with the highest temperature and ultraviolet light.

Expert Tip: If you use UVB, if you don’t mind, ensure that the light doesn’t have a glass or plastic piece to “secure” the bulb. UVB beams are hindered by glass and plastic, making the light you just spent such a lot on pointless. Bare UVB bulbs are compelling UVB bulbs!

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Do Corn Snakes Need A Night Light?

No night lighting, such as colored light bulbs. At best, it may disrupt your snake’s circadian rhythm (circadian cycle). In the worst case, it may damage the eyesight or mental health of the snake. In other words, don’t waste your money.


Corn snakes are reptiles, which implies they are transmitting or cutthroat. Ectotherms depend on their current circumstances to give the warmth energy expected for their typical digestion. Reptiles that can’t get enough top-notch calories may encounter low energy, vulnerability to illness, and slow recovery.

Recommended Temperature for a Corn Snake

A perfect corn snake’s temperature has a gradient distribution, and there are three temperature zones on the entire glass container. This allows the snake to move comfortably between areas. You need to pay special attention to the following parameters:

Baked noodles: 90°F (32°C)

Environment (air temperature): 25-27°C (78-82°F)

Cool area: 23-24°C (75°F)

The temperature can be safely reduced to 68°F (20°C) at night, so no heating is required at night. However, if you need it, use a ceramic heater or heating pad connected to a thermostat. To be safe, a thermostat must be used. This is not optional!

It’s recommended that you quickly buy a high-quality infrared thermometer such as the Etekcity Lasergrip 774 for $20 so that you can read the instant temperature anytime, anywhere. (Don’t bother about stickers or gauge thermometers-they are useless.)

This is an important reason why it is crucial to set the shell at least a week before bringing the corn snake home. Adjusting the corn snake’s temperature to the correct position may cause some trouble, especially because different lamp powers will produce different temperatures. The temperature depends on various factors, such as enclosure height and room temperature.

How to Heat the Enclosure of a Corn Snake:

Heat is a kind of energy called infrared. Infrared is undetectable to people and most reptiles (a few snakes are exceptions). Just like the types of ultraviolet rays are different, the infrared rays are also different: IR-A, IR-B, and IR-C.

● IR-A is the strongest infrared wavelength. It can penetrate the deepest animal tissues, making it particularly effective in transferring energy to external heat such as reptiles. It also has a therapeutic effect and is used clinically as a form of treatment. IR-A is abundant in sunlight.

● IR-B is the second strongest wavelength of infrared. Its penetrating power is not as good as IR-A, and the effect is not good, but it can still be regarded as “high quality” heat. IR-B is also abundant in sunlight.

● IR-C is the weakest infrared wavelength. It does not penetrate the skin, making it the least efficient heat source during sun exposure. It exists in small amounts in sunlight and is often experienced by radiant heat from heated objects such as rocks and asphalt.

The purpose of providing heat in a reptile enclosure is to mimic as much as possible the form of heat that it would experience in the wild.

Best: Heat Lamps

In nature, heat comes from the sun (beneath), not the ground (below). Reptiles retreat underground to avoid the sun and cool down without getting warm. Therefore, providing warmth from below like a heating pad is unnatural and will promote unnatural behavior. Heat lamps rectify this problem by mimicking the sun’s influence and heating the air and ground below.

Types of Heat Lamps

● Halogen and “incandescent” bulbs mainly produce IR-A and IR-B.

● Deep heat projectors and other carbon fiber bulbs mainly produce IR-B and IR-C.

● Ceramic radiators mainly produce IR-C.

Taking into account that the goal is to replicate sunlight as the main heat source in the corn snake environment, we recommend using halogen flood light bulbs as the most effective way to provide heat to the corn snake. There are many different electric bulbs on the market, from reptile-specific brands to ordinary bulbs in your local home improvement store. Reptile halogen bulbs can work well but have a short life span. I have the best experience with the 90w Philips halogen lamp PAR38 Flood bulb.

For best results, get two bulbs and install them in the Zoo Med mini combination deep dome luminaire or two 5.5-inch dome lights. For security reasons, the bulb attachment should be clay, not plastic. It’s also recommended that you utilize a couple of module dimmers, such as Lutron Credenza, to diminish the bulb when it overheats. On the other hand, you can put resources into a corresponding (diminishing) indoor regulator, for example, Herpstat 2, and it will naturally do this for you.

Place the heating lamp above the lighting surface, which should be the same as the thick branch line placed under the UVB lamp. I recommend using two electric heating bulbs instead of one, as this will heat the snake’s body more evenly, which will better promote its circulation and overall health. When your snake is just a teenager, using a light bulb will not be a problem, but it will become a problem as it grows.

If you are worried about “belly fever,” here is the good news: branches naturally absorb heat from the heating lamp, and when the snake sits on it, it heats up from below.

Heat Pad

Heating pads are still the most widely used method of heating corn snakes. Although they have been proven to keep snakes alive and reproducing, they are not the best choice. The heating pad only generates IR-C (the weakest heat), which leads to inefficient sun exposure. The snake must lie on the mat for a long time to collect the required heat energy. Besides, they hardly heat the air in the case. For these reasons, I do not recommend using a heating pad as the main heat source for the snake.

Nonetheless, the warming cushion can be a decent assistant warmth source. At the point when associated with an indoor regulator to guarantee wellbeing and set the warming temperature, they can be utilized to make a beautiful warm fort for snakes, which is equivalent to a cavern for sunbathing in nature.

For this, choose a high-quality heating pad that is the same size as the snake’s warm leather. Trusted heating pad brands include Fluker and Ultratherm. Place the cushion under the leather and cover it with about 2 inches of substrate. The mat is then inserted into the thermostat, and then the thermostat probe is placed inside the hide above the substrate. Check the position of the probe regularly.

The heating pad can only be used safely when paired with a thermostat (which can adjust the heating pad’s temperature). Even if the heating pad claims that it does not need a thermostat because it can only reach a certain nominal temperature, trust me-it still needs a thermostat. Many snakes were cooked to death due to heating pad failure!

The quality and cost of indoor regulators differ (lower costs generally show lower quality). Herpstat is awesome and generally solid. However, in the event that the financial plan is tight, Inkbird and Exo Terra Thermostat are minimal effort choices. Make a point to purchase an indoor regulator that suits your warming cushion power.

Don’t Use Hot Stones!

Hot stones (also known as hot stones/rock heaters/etc.) are manufactured and distributed under the same premise as electric blankets. They can be conveniently heated whenever your reptile needs a thermal blanket. That sounds like a good idea. However, it is well known that hot stones are unreliable, and many reptiles have lost their lives due to severe burns caused by these devices. Besides, they are not ideal for heating the shell, as it will only heat the rock surface and not the surrounding air.

Recommended Humidity for Corn Snake

Corn snakes thrive at an average humidity of 65-75%. The correct humidity level helps prevent dehydration, maintain healthy breathing and promote proper shedding.

Most corn snake caregivers assert that corn snakes will normally work in the range of 40-60%. Still, after checking the annual average relative humidity of several different locations in the entire confirmed corn snake area, it is clear that they are better like areas with higher humidity than traditional snakes.

This means that you may not maintain the correct humidity level with thick moisture-proof substrates and large water basins. Here are a few hints to assist you with keeping up sound moistness levels in the shell of corn snakes:

Use moisture-proof substrate: This means that dry substrates like poplar wood and lignin are lost.

Provide a layer of clean, chemical-free litter on top of the substrate. Leaf litter not only helps maintain humidity but also allows snakes to explore something.

Atomize the shell every day: Wet things in the morning and then at night if needed. Using a traditional spray bottle will give you cramps, so please use a pressure sprayer like Exo Terra pressure sprayer to make life easier.

Install a cold mist humidifier/atomizer. Please run it only at night for best results and schedule it for short periods rather than continuous operation. Use only distilled water, and use F10SC, Clean Break, or Rescue veterinary disinfectant to clean at any rate once every week to forestall bacterial development.

It is also a good idea to provide snakes with moist leather to be used when needed. Just arrange it in a leather box/hole lined with damp water moss and regularly replace the moss to prevent mold buildup.

Try not to allow the mugginess to end up on the track of the corn snake’s stickiness level with a hygrometer! My unanimous top choice is the Zoo Med advanced thermometer and hygrometer. Spot the test in the lodging to get the ideal normal stickiness of the lodging.

It is normal for the humidity to increase at night and decrease during the day. The humidity away from the heater lamp will also be higher. Occasional fluctuations above or below the given range are acceptable.

Longevity and Size 

The adult size of the corn snake is between 3 and 4 years old. For most specimens, the length is just over 4 feet. However, it is not that people who have heard of 5 feet and 6 feet! Fortunately, due to their slender stature, even a 5-foot corn snake is a completely controllable pet.

In captivity, corn snakes can live more than 20 years, with an average of 10 to 15 years.


Corn snakes are best placed in all glass reptile terrariums or other enclosures designed to hold snakes. Hatched snakes and snakes up to 2 feet long can be stored comfortably in standard 10-gallon or 15-gallon glass jars. Adults should be given more space, at least a 30-inch cage, and snakes are more comfortable in larger cages (such as Penn Plax or Vision cages). When providing natural heating and hiding places for large cages, corn snakes often exhibit various natural behaviors, such as basking in the sun and hunting, making them fascinating.

Furnishings and Substrate 

As their highly adaptable species, Corn snakes will flourish on almost all commercially available reptile bedding products. Shredded aspen (Sani-Chips) is an ideal choice due to its sterile and dust-free characteristics. When choosing to bed for corn snakes, avoid anything dusty or dry, such as cat litter or sand. Some corn snakes like to dig holes and can use chopped aspen bedding to dig holes.

Provide some hiding places for the snake in its enclosure. These may include semi-circles, cork floors, cork wheels or chips, or grape wood. Climbing structures can be added as needed, such as branches and other furniture. These will increase the beauty of your terrarium and also enrich your pet.


For food and feeding, corn snakes become very serious. They seem to like to eat! However, they certainly do not need to be given unregulated opportunities to eat rations happily. Corn snakes will feed on mice of all sizes throughout their lives. Babies eat a small mouse (newborn) once a week, while adults eat a large adult mouse on a similar schedule. For health reasons, very large corn snake mice should be given instead of multiple mice.

Processing Method

Dealing with corn snakes is fairly simple. However, as with any snake, you will want to avoid over-processing. In the event that there is any unexpected change in your snake’s conduct or craving, it could be identified with pressure. Over-processing is the fundamental wellspring of stress in hostage snakes.

Click this affiliate link to order an informative manual on how to take care of your corn snake.


As a cold-blooded animal, Corn Snakes need to live in an environment where the temperature is well regulated. Getting the right heat lamp for your pet snake will enable it to lead a happier and healthy life. By following the suggestions in this article, you will get the best out of your corn. 

Hazel Buckley
Hazel Buckley

About Hazel Buckley
Hazel is an animal enthusiast and educator who grew up on a farm which her parents owned in Ingogo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.  The farm was situated right under the Majuba Mountains - the site where the Anglo-Boer War was fought. 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.