If you find yourself reading this page do not panic. If you purchased a baby snake from me I assure you it is was eating fine before I shipped it out. We just need to figure out what has changed or is upsetting your new pet.
When you receive your new baby snake you need to remember that it has just taken the scariest ride of its life and needs time to settle into its new environment. I recommend that after the initial inspection of your animal that you leave him or her alone for at least five days before any interaction.
One problem that I see time and time again is that new cornsnake owners place their baby in a large aquarium type enclosure. Baby cornsnakes prefer to be in a small enclosure that is comparable to their size so as not to be overwhelmed. I recommend using a plastic shoe-box sized container with a locking lid with air holes. You can purchase this type of container at Target or Walmart. I keep my snakes in a small Tupperware like container. I put a small piece of crumpled paper in the back of the container so they can squeeze into it and feel secure.
Bright lights are another area where new owners tend to make a mistake. Cornsnakes are nocturnal and do not require any kind of light. Continuous bright lights can cause confusion and feeding problems especially with baby cornsnakes. Lights also tend to dry out their enclosure and cause rough sheds. I do not recommend using lights as a heat source.
The temperature of a cornsnake’s habitat is especially important. Make sure to get yourself a laser temperature gun so you have accurate readings. I keep the temperature at 83 degrees in the back of the container and roughly 76 degrees in the front of the container.
I keep my baby snakes in a rack system with back heating.
For heating, you can use a heat mat, heat tape, or heat rope. In addition, make sure you use a quality thermostat with a probe in conjunction with your heating equipment at the recommended temperatures. I always recommend a Spyder Robotics
thermostat. I have been using them for years and have never once had a problem with them.
Now that your enclosure is properly set up you can move on to the actual feeding process.
Make sure your snake is not in blue (the shredding process). Most snakes will not eat when they are in shed.
When you receive your baby snake, based on the age, it should be eating ONE DAY OLD frozen thawed pinky mice. You can thaw out the pinky by placing the frozen pinky in warm water for 2 minutes. Once thawed out place the pinky in hot water for 20 seconds, dry them and you are now ready to feed your snake. A thawed out, one day old pinky mice is very small and red in color.
I purchase my mice from Layne Labs
in California. Pinky mice come in many different sizes and you need to feed the appropriate size mouse for your snake. The mouse should be just about the same thickness as the thickest part of your snake (they can be a little larger, but just a little). If you feed your snake a mouse that is too big it may result in your snake regurgitating his or her meal. Regurgitation is serious, and steps will need to be taken to correct the situation or it will most likely kill your pet.
I use the same process to feed my hatchlings every time and they usually will eat without any problems. For the first two meals, I put the baby cornsnake with the thawed out warm pinky in a deli cup with air holes on the lid.
I put the deli cup in a dark place and leave it alone for one to two hours. It is important to note that during this time do not check up on the baby or try to peek to see if it has eaten. Leave it alone.After two hours you can check to see if your cornsnake has eaten. If it has eaten great put it back in its enclosure and leave it alone for three days to digest its meal in peace. If it has not eaten, then reheat the pinky in some hot water and put the snake and the mouse back in the deli cup and leave it alone overnight. Check on your snake in the morning. If your cornsnake still does not eat recheck your setup and your temperatures. As previously stated, your snake was eating before I shipped it and would have had at least five unaltered meals of frozen-thawed pinkies before I put it up for sale.
If you are still having problems, check the bottom of this page for tips and tricks to get your baby snake eating. Once the baby snake has eaten two meals in the deli cup, I then try to feed the cornsnake in its enclosure. I put the thawed out warm pinky in the snake’s enclosure right next to their hide. I give the snake at least one hour to eat before I check on them. If they have eaten great. If not, I reheat the pinky and put them back in the deli cup to repeat the process until they are eating in their enclosure.
Use the link above for great tips on non-feeding cornsnakes written by Nanci LeVake.
She has some great information.