Corn Snakes

Baby Corn Snake Not Eating

There are many reasons why your baby corn snakes not eating. In this article we will explain the ten most common reasons why your baby corn snake may not be eating and suggest ways to get your baby corn snakes eating again.

Before reading through these tips you should make sure that your baby corn snake has what we like to call “The Basics”.

Table of Contents

Baby Corn Snake Not Eating – The Basics

Make sure that your little guy or girl has some water bowls low down and easily accessible to drink from or soak when needed. Also make sure you provide a hide-box and and avoid any handling until the snake is eating consistently.

Additionally make sure that temperatures are kept between seventy seven and eighty four degrees during the daytime and between sixty seven and seventy five degrees at night. Humidity should be maintained at between thirty and seventy percent relative humidity at all times.

Read all the way to the end for a few bonus tips on what we call “non feeders”. Non feeders are snakes that refuse food right from the time of hatching. Getting these little guys and gals to eat can be extremely stressful for both snake and owner, so make sure to read until the end for those bonus tips.

Top Ten Reasons Why Your Baby Corn Snake Is Not Eating.

1. The food may have lost it’s odour due to being defrosted in hot water.

2. The baby corn snake may be experiencing digestion problems and be unable to eat, despite being hungry.

3. The food that you have offered your baby corn snake may be too large, meaning the snake will be unable to eat it.

4. On some occasions a baby corn snake that is fussy will refuse any food that is not warm enough.

5. Your baby corn snake is shedding their skin. This will not be until the snake is at least four to six weeks old.

6. During the shedding process your baby corn snake may have become dehydrated resulting in an incomplete shedding.

7. You may have fed your baby corn snake too recently and it is simply not in need of anymore food right now.

8. If your baby corn snake is too cold then instinctively it will not consume any food.

9. Environmental factors can cause your baby corn snake to become nervous or anxious. This includes things like adding another snake to the enclosure. As well as changes in noises, which vibrate the enclosure and extreme changes in temperature making the corn snake become to hot or to cold.

10. Your baby corn snake may become agitated from over handling just before feeding time.

The Solutions To Why Your Baby Corn Snake Isn’t Eating

1. The food may have lost it’s odour due to being defrosted in hot water.

Granted, if you defrost fluffs or pinkies in hot water it may be quicker, however, this leaves the food with drastically less of its natural scent. It is much better to plan ahead and defrost any frozen prey naturally in the air. Any food that is without the scent of the animal is much less appetising to the corn snake, so may be rejected by a fussy snake. Baby corn snakes have a particularly hard time recognising food that does not have any scent.

Remember that in the wild prey will always be fresh and have a scent. On occasions when you do have to defrost any food with hot water there is a solution. It sounds gross, but you can squeeze a tiny amount of blood or brain matter out of the nose of the rodent. By doing this the snake will have something to smell and taste.

The larger the rodents the stronger and more developed their skulls will be. If you need to, you can use a needle or cocktail stick to pierce the skull to release some brains or blood, encouraging your baby corn snake to eat the meal.

Some corn snake owners recommend wiping the head of the rodent on hamster urine. We have not had any experience with this ourselves,and of course you will need to have access to a hamster to be able to do this.

2. The baby corn snake may be experiencing digestion problems and be unable to eat, despite being hungry.

Your baby corn snake may be unwell. Sometimes when corn snakes are unwell they have problems with their digestion. If your corn snake has symptoms such as trouble breathing, discharge around the mouth or lesions or lumps around the mouth then this could be affecting their ability to eat food also. They may want to eat but are unable to.

If your baby corn snake has any of these visible signs of illness, or you suspect that they are having trouble with digestion then you should take them to the vet immediately.

3. The food that you have offered your baby corn snake may be too large, meaning the snake will be unable to eat it.

Adult corn snakes can typically eat prey that is up to one and a half times their own girth. Baby corn snakes are no different. They achieve this in three different ways. Number one, they have the ability to dislocate their lower jaws which are already very flexible. Number two, despite their thin neck and body they have flexible skin and scales allowing them to stretch to the size of the food. Thirdly, they have many muscles that crush and squeeze their food as the food moves towards their stomach.

We recommend to feed your baby corn snakes rodents, or other prey, that are no more than one and a quarter times their own girth. Your baby corn snake may refuse food that is within these parameters. This could be because it feels threatened by the size of the prey, in this case a rodent. In this case it is best to offer them a smaller meal, two small pinkies as appose to one fluff for example. Baby mice (pinkies) are one of the easiest foods for baby corn snakes.

You should remember though, that pinkies come in different sizes. Pinkies range from new born which is about the size of a baked bean to pre-fluffs which are much bigger. If you suspect that the size of the rodents is a issue, you will have to ask your supplier for their smallest pinkies. Consider also purchasing from your supplier baby spiny mice or baby pygmy mice. These newborns are significantly smaller than pinkies and will be ,much easier for your baby corn snake to consume.You can also consider cutting the pinkies in half. Finding a smaller meal for your baby corn snake could be the difference between them eating or not.

4. On some occasions a baby corn snake that is fussy will refuse any food that is not warm enough.

As with any type of pet that you may own, corn snakes have their own personalities. So your baby corn snake may really insist on having warm food, especially when it comes to a pinkies head. This is of course, how their food would usually be when in the wild. If your baby corn snake insists on warm food then you can simply gently warm the pinkies head with a hair dryer on low heat. Alternatively you can prepare some fairly hot water and then soak the pinkie in the water. This should make the pinkies far more appetising. You can also wriggle the pinkie right in front of the baby corn snakes nose to get them interested.

On occasions when you choose to thaw out or heat up the rodents by using hot water, you must make sure to never ever boil the food. Boiling and then cooking the rodents will cause them to expand and become rubbery and therefore way less appetising to you snakes. Additionally food that is too hot for your corn snake can burn them and be very hazardous so should never be offered to them. Rodents that are boiled then left to cool down are also no good for your baby corn snake. The rodent will not be flexible enough to be swallowed whole. Also the rodent will be much more likely to burst open. Snakes are meant to eat their food whole, so you will want to avoid these things happening.

5. Your baby corn snake is shedding their skin. This will not be until the snake is at least four to six weeks old.

Baby corn snakes begin life without the need to shed their skin. As they approach the ages of four to six old weeks they begin to grow more rapidly. During this rapid growth spurt they will shed very often. You will need to keep a record of when your corn snakes shed their skin. This can help you better predict when the next shredding will occur.

You will learn to look for the signs that the shredding is coming. Indicators such as changes in skin colouration and eyes having a milky glaze. When you know that the next shredding of the skin is coming, you will want to put their feed on hold. When a corn snake is about to shred they will become irritable and uncomfortable. They will be very unlikely to want any food.

6. During the shedding process your baby corn snake may have become dehydrated resulting in an incomplete shedding.

When a corn snake sheds it’s skin it must be adequately hydrated. Any snake that has any of it’s old skin in smaller pieces rather than one continuous piece may be dehydrated. Additionally it may have some of it’s old skin still on it’s body. A corn snakes skin must be flexible in order to consume prey that can be much larger than the girth of it’s neck. Any old skin still attached to the snake can prevent the skin from stretching. This can cause the snake to regurgitate due to the skin not stretching completely over any food.

You can give your snake another bowl of water to bask in. They may already be soaking in their drinking water. You can also provide them with very damp bedding. Only do this for around an hour at a time to prevent you snake becoming too cold. Giving your baby corn snake these options will help them shed their skin, after which they will get back their appetite.

7. You may have fed your baby corn snake too recently and it is simply not in need of anymore food right now.

For a baby corn snake, the best ratio of food is one pinkie every four or five days. That is until they are big enough to eat fluffs. Snakes will mostly only eat what they need to survive. Especially in the wild where food has a energy and risk cost attached to it. In captivity however, some snakes will eat more than what they require if it offered to them.

You must try not to over feed your baby corn snake. Of course overfeeding your baby corn snake will possibly help it to grow faster. However it may also lead to your snake gaining excess body fat. Overfeeding can even cause your baby corn snake to regurgitate, which is a mess neither your snake or you, yourself will want.

8. If your baby corn snake is too cold then instinctively it will not consume any food.

Young or old, all corn snakes need warmth when digesting their meals properly. In the wild a baby corn snake will be surrounded by it’s sibling and it’s mother which will provide protection from the cold. You will need to provide your corn snakes with a warmer area inside their enclosures. Corn snakes need warm and cooler areas in their enclosures to help them regulate their temperatures.

9. Environmental factors can cause your baby corn snake to become nervous or anxious. This includes things like adding another snake to the enclosure. As well as changes in noises, which vibrate the enclosure and extreme changes in temperature making the corn snake become to hot or to cold.

Corn snakes do not hear in the same way as us humans and many other animals do. Corn snakes have an inner ear which senses vibrations in the air. Additionally corn snakes are very susceptible to vibrations in the ground which they use to hunt their prey in the wild.

Any baby corn snake that has it’s enclosure near load sounds, or a noisy environment in general will become agitated and possibly even threatened. When a baby corn snake in this situation and refusing food it should be moved to a quieter location.

10. Your baby corn snake may become agitated from over handling just before feeding time.

Handling your baby corn snake will generally be a pleasant experience for both of you. Most corn snakes have no problem being handled. You will need to give them some space the day before they are due their feed. Avoid handling them in this time and leave them to their own devices as much as possible. Over handling in the time leading up to their feed can sometimes cause them to go off of their food. You should additionally not handle them for a two days after they have had food.

Baby Corn Snake Not Eating Non feeders.

We mentioned at the start of this article ‘about non feeders’. Non feeders are baby corn snakes who refuse food right from the time that they hatch and eventually die from hunger. No one really knows why some baby corn snakes exhibit this type of behaviour. We typically see around one or two ‘non feeders’ in every clutch of eggs. We will never give up on these baby corn snakes until it is obvious that for whatever reason, they are literally incapable of digesting food. Unfortunately this is where the food just stays inside the baby corn snake and rots. You should not give up on these these baby corn snakes either.

Baby Corn Snake Not Eating – The promised bonus tips.

Check the lighting settings.

One of the least invasive thing you could try is to experiment with different lighting settings. Some snakes will eat their food if there is little or no light.

Use ‘mouse scent’.

Another small change that could have a big impact is something called ‘mouse scent’. ‘Mouse scent’ comes in a liquid form and gives the pinkie a strong sense of smell. This is particularly useful for any pinkies that were defrosted in hot water. This should make the pinkie way more appetising to your little guys and gals.

Tap the snake with the pinkie.

Something a little more aggressive for your snake. Try tapping the snakes body with the pinkie. This will torment the snake and may make them more aggressive. Hopefully this will lead to them striking at the pinkie, then if they have grabbed the pinkie of their own choice they may eat it.

Give your snake some privacy.

Putting the baby corn snake along with a pinkie in a small cardboard box or plastic tub may give them some privacy. Similar to the trick with the lighting, some privacy may be what the baby corn snake needs to finally begin feeding.

Bleeding the pinkie.

We mentioned earlier about the practice of ‘braining’ or ‘bleeding’ a pinkie to make it appear more appetising to your baby corn snake. We know this is a little gross but it can be very effective for ‘non feeders’. The scent of the blood and in particular, the brain can be very enticing and can lead to a ‘non feeder’ eating it’s first meal.

Privacy and a warmer, tastier meal.

If you have ‘brained’ a pinkie and are still having trouble convincing your baby corn snake that it is a tempting meal then there is an extra step that you could try. Take the ‘brained’ pinkie and place it on top of a paper towel. Place ‘brained’ pinkie and paper towel inside a small container. A small plastic tub with a hole inside it or a plant pot placed upside down will be fine. Make sure there is a hole for your baby corn snake to get inside.

Now place the container on top of a pre-heated heat mat for between five and ten minutes. Now is the tricky part of getting your snake to enter the container. You will need to hold your baby corn snake so that their head is close to the hole.

Naturally your snake will have the urge to enter the small container. This is because snakes naturally like to hide in small spaces and the strong sent of the warm pinkie coming from inside. You can delicately tap their tail to make them enter a little quicker if they seem hesitant. You must now turn of the heat mat, otherwise your baby corn snake could get too hot and die if left inside for too long.

When the baby corn snake is inside you will need to cover the hole with a wet towel or something similar. It just has to be something that can’t easily be pushed off by the snake. Which is also not going to make the container air tight.

Now you leave the little guy or gal to it. Use a torch to check on them every now and then to see if the snake has eaten the pinkie. We have had great success with this method and can not recommend it enough.

Try the scent of a warm chick.

Another trick to get your baby corn snake to eat, is to disguise a pinkies scent with a warm chick. There are many ways to do this but we use the following method.

Firstly you will need to defrost a frozen chick in hot, but not boiling water. Then wash the required amount of pinkies using cold water and a tiny amount of soap. Next rinse the soap off with warm, but not boiling water. Then dry off the pinkies with some clean kitchen towel and place them either tightly against the chicks belly or under the chicks wings. Pre heat a warm heat mat then wrap the pinkies and chick tightly together with a clean piece of kitchen towel. Then place them all together on the heat mat for one hour.

Once the hour is up, unwrap them and carefully remove the pinkies with some plastic tweezers. You do not want to touch them as this will leave your scent on them covering the chicks scent. Lastly hover the now warm pinkie around the snakes head to give the baby corn snake a chance to become interested. If this does not work then you have two more options. Either give the snake some privacy and place it in a small tub that is not air tight. Or use the pre-warmed pot method. Both these methods are explained above.

Try lizards for prey.

While corn snakes preferred meal of choice is rodents, such as mice or rats. On occasions you will get some corn snakes that prefer lizards. A baby anole or baby Cuban anole make a great alternative for snakes that prefer lizards for their meals. Bear in mind that lizards often carry parasites. So there will be a risk of them being introduced to your pet snake. If this happens you can take your snake to the vet who will be able to deal with the parasites should any be passed on. A good tactic to avoid the possibility of parasites being passed from a lizard to your snake is to use some lizard scent on your pinkies.

One of your last options and a potentially stressful one.

You will need to pick up your baby corn snake. Next gently hold the snake by their neck close to their head. Make sure that the rest of their body is wrapped around your other fingers. Using your other hand, take the pinkie and begin gently tapping the snakes nose in a right and left motion. This will cause your baby corn snake some stress but should ensure that it snaps at the pinkie. This is exactly what you want to happen.

Once the snake grabs the pinkie you must continue to wriggle the pinkie. When you notice the snakes jaw has dislocated it will then begin to swing it’s head from left to right. This usually means that the snake is going to eat it’s meal. You should now do your best to keep still and let the snake get a strong hold on the pinkie. Now carefully and slowly place the snake back in it’s enclosure and cover them with a paper towel to give them some privacy.

Over the next couple of days, keep a close eye on the temperature of your baby corn snakes enclosure. Corn snakes need a warm environment to be able to digest their food adequately. The last thing that you want after all you care and hard work, is for your snake to regurgitate it’s meal just because the enclosure was not warm enough.

The last option to try is to use a pinky pimp.

If you go to your vet and explain that you have tried everything else, you could ask about using a pinky pump to force feed you snake as a last resort. At first your vet will perform the practice of using the pinky pump. They will show you how best to do this and what to be aware of when doing it. Be aware that force feeding a hatch-ling snake can be dangerous if not done correctly and even be fatal. Remember that in the wild a baby corn snake would only have it’s natural instinct driving it to eat. You will need to get your little guy or gal eating on their own as soon as possible.

Conclusion.

So there you have it! Everything you need to know on “Baby corn snake not eating”. Remember the Ten tips on getting your baby corn snake to eat and the added bonus tips too.

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