Choosing a Vivarium For Your Corn Snake

Choosing a Vivarium For Your Corn Snake

Corn snakes are relatively small (rarely exceeding five feet in length); active feeders, tolerate a wide variety of environmental conditions; come in a dazzling array of colours; and are very easy to breed. For these reasons they make excellent pets, especially for families with older children.

When bringing home your pet snake, it is important that you have a habitat set up for it to move straight into. It’s not just a case of setting up a vivarium for them to live in; the correct heating, lighting and habitat are things that must be considered when taking your corn snake home with you for the first time.

In this blog post, I will explain how to choose a vivarium for your snake, why temperature and lighting is important, and what to include in his new home.

Dr Bobby Ortiz, small and exotic pet vet, posing with a bunny patient

Dr. Bobby Ortiz, M.V.B.

Dr Bobby Ortiz, aka 'Dogtor Bob', is a small animal and exotic veterinarian based in Dublin. He has a strong interest in Small Mammal (rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets) and Reptile medicine and surgery.

He grew up in a family of avid animal lovers, which led him to work as an Aquarist at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific in California. It was there he decided he wanted to become a vet, and specialise in exotic animals, that needed the same care and medical attention that dogs and cats are given.

He lives with his wife and Brittany Spaniel Bodhi, and has dreams to build a new tropical marine fish tank in the near future!

Where Corn Snakes Like to Live

Corn Snakes should be housed in a vivarium with a secure top, as they make excellent escape artists. Make sure to choose glass or plastic enclosures that are completely escape-proof.

Allow a minimum of 1 square foot to each foot long your snake is. A hatchling corn snake could become stressed if placed in a large vivarium, so make sure they are housed in a small enclosure and move up a size as it grows.

Some items to include in the habitat are; a branch for climbing and resting on; and a rock or log for basking and lying around on; and a heat mat.

Good ventilation is important in your snake’s enclosure to prevent an accumulation of harmful bacteria. It should be made from a solid material that is simple to clean and can keep heat in.

corn snake in vivarium on tree branch

Is Temperature and Heating Important For Corn Snakes?

Snakes are poikilotherms, which means they can’t regulate their own body temperature. They use the environment they are in to keep themselves warm or cool, and require a ‘thermogradient.’ This means that you will need to place a guarded heat lamp at one end of the vivarium so your snake can keep warm, while using the other end of the enclosure to cool down. This will allow the snake to move around and regulate his own temperature.

Keep the hot end at around 27 – 30⁰C, and the cool end around 20 – 24⁰C. The lamp must be guarded to prevent burns or any other type of injury.


Setting the correct humidity is important to ensure your snake’s respiratory system is healthy and for a good skin shedding cycle. A hygrometer, like EXO TERRA Hygrometer monitors the vivarium humidity levels, which should be around 40 to 50%. If it is too high, your vivarium will need more ventilation.

Is Lighting Important For Corn Snakes?

Lighting sources for snakes are mostly used solely for heating and light production. While Corn Snakes don’t need UVB to survive, UVA/UVB light can help improve health and wellness of all reptiles.

Bulbs such as EXO TERRA UBV Tropical Terrarium Bulb, 25w emits optimal levels of UVB, similar to that of shady environments such as rain forests or other tropical locations. Reptiles living in these habitats receive moderate UV radiation due to climatological conditions (fairly high humidity, changes in weather, etc) that prevent unfiltered sunlight from reaching the reptile’s basking site.

The optimal Vitamin D3 yield index ensures vitamin D3 photosynthesis to aid calcium absorption and prevent metabolic diseases.

Before you take your Corn Snake home, it is important that you have a habitat set up for it to move straight into. This Snake Starter Kit will help you identify what you need, and if you have any questions, our Pet Care Advisors in-store will be only to happy to assist.

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