Corn Snakes

How Long Can A Corn Snake Go Without Eating?

How long can a Corn Snake go without eating? Well when they are in brumation, they lower their metabolism and go longer without consuming prey. Corn Snakes can actually go for roughly 2-3 months before they need to eat.

(Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to find ‘Other related articles you might like’, once you are done reading).

Typically tough when not in brumation, adult corn snakes can go up to 2 weeks without eating. While baby corn snakes need to eat more often and should only go one week without eating.

Remember that snakes are cold-blooded. So naturally require less energy from their diet.

How A Corn Snake Eats It’s Food

One of the reasons that snakes can go so long without eating is that they have a slow but efficient digestive system.

Snakes will most often eat a rat or mouse whole.

Thanks to some very unique muscle and ligament structures a snake is able to open it’s mouth larger than it’s body. The snake then swallows it’s prey whole and then digests it slowly over time.

This means that snakes tend to eat large meals spread out rather than small meals close together.

Corn Snakes Eating When in the Wild

It is worth noting, that snakes can reduce their metabolic rate by up to 70%. This is how they are able to conserve energy when they are in the wild.

When in the wild a corn snake can go without food for an extended period of time. This is because snake’s have the ability to use their own body’s to utilize their internal resources.

In the wild a snake will start to use up its fat stores. After this it will break down the proteins in the body. This is how when a snake needs to, it can survive in hostile environments.

Why Does My Corn Snake Sometimes Go Without Eating?

There are a number of reasons why your Corn Snake may not be eating. It can be a scary time for any new snake owner. That is why we will go over the reasons why your Corn Snake may not be eating starting with the most serious reasons first.

Illness

Your Corn Snake may be unwell, although this is the most serious reason for your snake to not be eating it is also the least common. You should however make sure that you Corn Snake is not unwell. You can do this by making sure that your Corn Snake does not have any of the following:

Wrinkled Skin

If your pet snake has wrinkled skin, which will be loose rather than taut it could be a sign of poor health.

Abnormal Droppings

When your pet snake has abnormal droppings this is an indication of problems in it’s digestion.

Lethargy

Not to be confused with when your pet snake is possibly going into brumation and saving energy. The difference will be if your snake is not even eating or drinking very much.

Regurgitation/vomiting or weight loss

Another obvious problem with digestion is if your snake is vomiting or loosing weight.

Difficulty Breathing

On some occasions your snake may have difficulty breathing as a result of being unwell. Be sure to check the temperature and humidity of the tank before you worry too much.

Swelling or Discharge

Any sign of discharge coming from your snake anywhere other than where it should be is a cause for concern. Regularly checking for any cuts or scrapes is a good idea.

Lumps or Swelling

Corn snakes can also develop lumps and swelling in different areas of their body’s this is potential sign of poor health.

If you see these symptoms alongside your Corn Snake not eating there is a chance that it could be unwell and you should take your snake to see the vet.

How Will I Know When My Corn Snake is in Brumation?

As mentioned above when in brumation your Corn Snake will not eat for up to 3 months. This is one of the main reasons for a Corn Snake not to eat.

It can be an alarming time for new snake owners, not to worry though as this is a natural process that all Corn Snakes go through.

Knowing when your pet snake will go into brumation is very difficult because not all Corn Snakes have their brumation regularly.

The Weather and/or Season

In some instances it can be related to colder weather, however it can still happen in warmer weather too, it is just that it is more likely to happen in colder weather.

Lack of Motion

While you might not be able to tell when you pet snake is in brumation, one way to know if it is in brumation is lack of motion. If you pet snake is not moving around a lot then it could be in brumation. This is because when in brumation a snake slows it’s metabolism down massively and so does not want to expend too much energy.

More Burrowing and Hiding

Increased burrowing and hiding can also be a sign of your pet snake being in brumation. The reason for this is that the brumation of a snake is similar to the hibernation of other animals, and the snake wants to be very relaxed and is very lethargic. Having a suitable hide for your snake is a very important factor.

Roughly Every Year

As we mentioned before it can often be hard to tell when a Corn Snake will go into brumation. Sometimes though your pet snake will go into brumation roughly every year. This is because it is similar in nature to the hibernation cycles of other animals.

Still Drinking Water

If you Corn Snake is not eating, but is still moving around to drink and soak in water then this a good sign. This means that your pet snake is in brumation but is still well enough and has the energy to stay hydrated. Always make sure that your snake has plenty of clean water and the correct size bowl.

Temperature of the Tank

We mentioned earlier that the temperature can be a contributing factor to when you Corn Snake will go into brumation. If the temperature of the tank drops too low then your pet snake may well go into brumation. Use a reputable thermometer to get the most accurate readings.

Should You Should Still Offer Your Snake Food?

If your snake meets these criteria then it is in brumation. You should still offer your snake food every now and again. Just remember that brumation lasts approximately three months.

Other Reasons Why My Corn Snake Will Not Eat?

Too little heat for digestion

Remember that your Corn Snake needs to be warm enough, snakes have a tough time digestion their food when they are too cold.

Frozen mice thawed in water and lost its scent

While frozen mice may be a lot easier to feed your Corn Snake they do however loose their scent. See our tips below for advice on what do to if your snake is not keen on it’s recently thawed dinner.

Killed mice and not live mice

If your pet Corn Snake was in the wild it would likely prefer a live mouse over a dead one. This is because a live mouse is more likely to make a healthy dinner that a dead one. See our tips below for help with this.

Beginning or the middle of shedding

Shedding can be a strange time for your Corn Snake. It will likely not worry about food while it is in the process of moving around to shed it’s old skin.

Brumation/Hibernation

If your Corn Snake is in brumation it will not eat. See how you will know if your snake is in brumation at the beginning of this article.

Ate only 24 hours ago

Remember as we said earlier in this article snakes tend to eat large meals that keep them going for a while, rather than frequent small meals. Your Corn Snake is unlikely to eat just a day after it’s last meal.

Full from its meal within the last week

As with cases when your pet snake has eaten in the past day and when it will most likely not eat again so soon. The same can be said when it has eaten in the past week especially if the meal was a large one.

Food is too large

When feeding you pet snake a particularly large meal, like a mouse that is too big for it’s current size or more than one mouse at a time. There is a good chance that your snake will not eat the next meal that you feed it for possibly longer than a week.

Illness

Of course the most serious reason for your Corn Snake not eating would be illness. See our tips above to know if your snake is ill.

You should work your way through this list before checking to see if your snake is ill.

How Can I Get My Corn Snake to Eat?

You may be a little worried, thinking to yourself how long can a corn snake go without eating?. Luckily there are a few tips and tricks that experienced snake owners use to bring out the hunting instincts of the snake. You can try these your self.

Try These Tips

Drop the mouse in front of the snake

One of the most simple things to do is just make sure that you drop the mouse right in front of the snake, this simple but effective strategy is best used when your snake may be unwell or if the mouse has lost it’s scent.

Cut the mouse to draw some blood

If you cut the mouse and allow some blood to circulate in the air then this will stimulate your snakes sense of smell and hunting instinct. This may well wet your snakes appetite.

Mouse in a box

If you rally want to give your snake a challenge then you could put the mouse in a box with some holes. This is a good idea if your snake seems to be getting lazy or taking it’s food for granted.

Tapping the Snakes Nose With the Mouse

Teasing your snake can be a very effective way of getting it to eat it’s dinner. This can be done by taping your snakes nose with a mouse, be careful of your fingers though. This is an effective trick when your snake is unwell or being lazy.

Drag the Mouse Around by it’s Tail

When using a thawed mouse it is a good idea to drag it around by it’s tail on the floor of the tank. This will simulate the mouse being alive which is important as snakes do not always recognise the mouse as food especially when the mouse is dead.

With all these tips in mind, just remember that a snake will only eat when it is hungry. Sometimes it can be less serious and your pet snake is just not hungry. Just make sure that your pet snake recognises the mouse as food.

Using the above tips will help you do this. Remember that a thawed mouse really needs to be enticing, as your snake will ignore it as it is not a live mouse.

Corn Snakes like their prey to show signs of life, like moving about and being warm. These are signs of healthy food.

How Long Can A Baby Corn Snake Go Without Eating?

How long can a baby corn snake go without eating? It’s common for hatchling to be problem feeders. But how long can a baby corn snake go without eating. The answer, only a couple of days. Keep in mind your hatchling will also need to have its first shed. This will be completely new to the hatchling and may be a reason they are not eating.

However once your corn snake has had its first shed and still isn’t feeding, then there are a few tricks you can try. If these don’t work, then please seek advise from a veterinarian.

So, to begin with, you must make sure you’re handling the hatchling a little as possible. Hatchlings will not be used to human interaction and will find the ordeal very stressful. Stress is one of the main causes for a corn snake to stop eating. So making your hatchling as comfortable as possible is crucial to its wellbeing and appetite. 

Tips and Tricks

Option 1

Thaw one of your frozen pinkies and clean it will a mild soap and rinse off with water. The aim is to remove the scent of the pinkie. Ideally you would want the pinkie to be odourless, therefore the corn snake will only see it as a piece of meat, and hopefully won’t be put off by the smell. Smells can cause a lot of caution for a snake, as it needs to determine whether the scent is predator or prey. A choice which hey really don’t want to be getting wrong in the wild.

With a pair of forceps, pinch the pinkie by the back end and dangle it in front of your hatchling. You want to try mimic a mouses natural movement as closely as possibly to try activate your hatchlings natural hunting behaviour.

Option 2

Offer the hatchling a live pinkie. Again, it’s the natural movement of a pinkie which you hope to trigger a response from your hatchling. If the hatchling doesn’t respond after 30 minutes then take the pinkie back out and replace it with a dead one. 

Option 3 

Pick up the hatchling and gently place it in the palm of your hand. Carefully hold the hatchling so its head is softly restrained between your thumb and index finger. Remember this has to be very gentle as you don’t want to hurt the hatchling. You should position your thumb and finger just slightly behind the hatchlings head, making sure its secure. This should be of no harm or danger to the hatchling. 

Once in this position, using forceps, pick up a dead pinkie and being to dangle it infant of your hatchling. Every so often, gently tap the nose of your hatchling with the pinkie. A hatchlings nose is very sensitive, so you will only need a very light tap. 

After a few taps the hatching will likely strike. This is because the pinkie is coming in contact with your hatchling, forcing them to become a little defensive. This may cause a little stress. However, it’s far more important at this stage your hatchling feeds and gets used to the taste of a pinkie.

Once the hatchling has striked and has started to ingest the prey, you then have to wait, staying very still. You do not want to move the hatchling whilst it’s trying to ingest the prey. Even the smallest of movements can cause your snake to regurgitate its food. Then you’ll be back to square one, and having to start this process all over again.

After the hatchling has fully ingested the pinkie, you can then place it back into its vivarium where it can go rest after its first feed. Hopefully from here you shouldn’t have many troubles with feeding.

Option 4

If the hatchling doesn’t strike, there is one more technique you can try. Using the same holding method as above, you can try use the pinkie to open the hatchlings mouth. Using the tip of the pinkie, or a part with a slightly pointed edge can be used to wedge into the hatchlings mouth. 

Of course you don’t want to apply any pressure whilst doing this. You want your hatchling to open its mouth naturally. This method is just aiding the snakes thought, that this is prey to be eaten, by putting it near its mouth (like you would a baby).

Eventually the hatchling will take a bite. Once this has happened and the hatchling has a firm grip on the pinkie, you’ll need to pull back on the pinkie ever to slightly. This is because in the mild a mouse would try to escape, and pulling back will make the hatchlings jagged teeth dig in further, meaning it will have a better grip. Before the hatchling starts to ingest the pinkie, place it straight back into its vivarium to feed in a familiar location. Ie, close to its hide.

Hopefully this has answered the question of, how long can a baby corn snake go without eating. Please note that Reptilinks can also be used as an alternative to prey. Follow the second link for their website.

Reasons Why Baby Corn Snakes May Not Eat…

In most cases, loss of appetite is a natural part of a corn snakes behaviour. However there are occasions when it could be a result of problems which you may be able to resolve with a few little adjustments to their everyday life, such as diet and vivarium requirements.

Throughout some of a corn snakes natural cycles it will commonly lose it appetite. This is most common through the shedding process and the brumation period, which is similar to the hibernation process of animal. However brumation is for reptiles, which do not sleep for long periods of time, they just slow down.

When these processes happen you won’t need to take any action. It is perfectly normal and natural behaviour for a corn snake, so you have nothing to worry about as an owner. You have to remember that reptiles eating patterns are much different to mammals eating patterns, and corn snakes are no acceptation. 

You will however have to monitor this situation, because unlike the shedding process, you can never really tell when the brumation period has started. For all you know, your corn snake may have other issues to why it is not eating as frequently as usual.

Other factors you should consider to why your baby corn snake isn’t eating include;

  • Having the incorrect type of substrate 
  • Incorrect daytime and nighttime cycles – Timer 
  • Type of food you are offering
  • Temperature inside the vivarium – Thermometer
  • Humidity levels inside the vivarium – Hygrometer
  • Diseases 
  • Illnesses
  • Obstructions and Impactions

Most Recommended For Corn Snakes

Bathing Water Bowl – Click Here

Heat Lamp and Guard – Click Here

Reliable Thermometer – Click Here

Vivarium/Enclosure – Click Here

Climbing Branches – Click Here

Hydrometer – Click Here

Other Pages You May Like…

Do Corn Snakes Hibernate?

When Do Corn Snakes Shed?

Are Corn Snakes Crepuscular?

Are Corn Snakes Friendly?

Incubating Corn Snake Eggs?

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