Why Do Corn Snakes Climb? – Evading Capture, Or Just For Fun

Why do corn snakes climb? Generally corn snakes tend to stick to ground level. They seek comfort submerging themselves under leafs, rocks and fallen trees. However, they are known to be semi-arboreal. This means that on occasion, they have been known to climb. The main reason for this is when hunting. Birds nests are easy pickings for snakes, as they commonly eat bird eggs. 

Corn snakes have been know to climb trees, and even walls in order to find a meal. As long as an object can hold the snakes weight, and the snake can wrap itself around, then it should be more than capable to climb.

Hunting is not always a corn snakes reason for climbing trees. Corn snake will actually climb trees to find a place to bask. With a corn snakes natural habitat being mainly forestry, it can sometimes be hard to find a safe place to bask in the sun. The canopy of the forest will block out a lot of the sun from the forest floor. So corn snakes climb, to find a branch in the sun which they can stretch across and enjoy the warming morning.

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Corn Snake Climbing Technique?

Could you imagine trying to climd a tree without any arms or legs. That would take some serious skill and is pretty impossible to even think about. However snakes do exactly that. They have no means of grabbing into branches and pulling themselves up. What they rely on is their body strength and their scales.

Researchers have found that corn snakes use their scales to give them an advantage when climbing trees. It’s thought that corn snakes slightly flair up the scales on the underside of their stomach, to create hook like apparatus.

If you imagine what the teeth of a wood saw look like, this is very similar to what their scales will look like underneath the snakes stomach. They’re angled back so they dig in, or latch onto the bark of the tree as they manoeuvre themselves upwards.

From here corn snakes use their immense strength to push themselves higher and higher. Commonly, like most other snakes, you will see a corn snake climb a tree in an ‘S’ like figure. This distributes their body weight over a larger surface area, meaning they have more control over their movement and grip.

Getting down again?

You have to remember that Coen snakes won’t just climb any tree. They will only climb trees which are suitable for climbing. What I mean by this is, they won’t climb a tree which has a really thick trunk. Corn snakes ability to climb relies on their bodies being able to wrap around the tree at all times. Corn snakes don’t climb straight up, they climb around.

This is no different when corn snakes need to get down from a tree. They wrap themselves around the tree with the bottom half of their bodies first. Once secure, the top half will start to decline the tree. At this point the corn snake will be looking for a suitable place to cling on to. Replicating the same gripping movement as the previous bottom half of its body.

This process is followed throughout the whole descent. So you can imagine this is no quick decline. Corn snakes can survive a 30 foot fall unharmed, however there is always a chance of causing some damage to its ribs and spine. For this reason you will see corn snakes climb all the way to the bottom before coming in contact with ground level.

Should You Replicate This In A Vivarium?

Corn snakes are partially arboreal. So yes. It’s always best to replicate a snakes vivarium as close to its natural habitat as possible. You can provide real or artificial plants and climbing branches inside the enclosure. This will actually provide stimulations, comfort and hiding places for your corn snake. 

Artificial plants, vines, branches, rocks and other foliage can be places anywhere with in the enclosure. (Exo Terra is a really good climbing product for corn snakes) Try to provide them with more than just one plant or vine though. Corn snakes need to feel safe in its surrounds at all times, so the more cover you can provide the better. This will give your snake a range of places to hide and relax.

Providing a climbing branch for your corn snake is a great idea. You can buy one from a reptile store, or online here. If you’re planning to make a climbing branch, ensure that it is smooth, with no sharp edges as this will only irritate your snake. Buying from a retile store would be best as they will always be safe and sterile. So you can put these straight into your snakes enclosure without having to worry.

They can be placed wherever you like in the enclosure, it really doesn’t matter. Just not too close to the heat lamp if you have one. And make sure your snake can actually climb on it. It will be no good having it pressed up against a wall. Corn snakes need to be able to wrap themselves around a branch. 

Finally, make sure the branch can actually take the weight of your corn snake. You may need to upgrade to a bigger branch in the first few years, if your corn snake is still growing in size. 

Corn Snake Climbing Toys And Alternatives…

In general, vivariums are quite bare, with no corn snake climbing toys. Usually they’re a combination of substrate, water bowl, and a couple of hides. But what about climbing apparatus and toys? Do corn snakes really need toys?

The answer is yes. Unlike most animal toys, which are bought to be played with, snakes toys are slightly different. It’s no good buying a tennis ball to throw for your corn snake. They’re not a dog. Corn snakes are kept entertained by exploring and investigating, just like they would in the wild.


Corn snake climbing toy branches are a great means of exercise for your corn snake. Being semi-arboreal, corn snakes do enjoy climbing, so added some climbing apparatus into their enclosure would pay dividends for your corn snakes happiness. It’s recommended to have a few branches, so you can change them over every week or so. Perhaps 4, so you can do a weekly cycle throughout the month. 

Alternatively, there is a product online called Exo Terra Jungle Vine. This vine allows you to bend and twist the climbing apparatus into many different shapes. Meaning no two vines will ever be the same. This is great for your corn snake also, and easy on the bank balance.


Snakes like to explore tunnels and plantations. You could easily use some toilet roll tubes (the middle cardboard bit) to place underneath the vivarium substrate to create some tunnels. These would be easy to move around once a week, and can easily be removed and changed at your leisure.


Having a couple of fake plants are great corn snake climbing toys, which you can switch around, every so often will so give your corn snake something else to explore. You can leave them in for a couple of days at a time if you wish. Maybe rubbing some soil over them, so your snake has a few more earthy smells to investigate also.

These are a few great way to keep your corn snake entertained throughout the day, as if they were going about their usual business in the wild. These methods will ensure your corn snakes well-being and happiness is at its healthiest.

What Do Corn Snakes Do For Fun?

Most reptile don’t interact with the world like mammals do, and snakes are no acceptation. Snakes brains are very primitive. What I mean by this is that snakes brains have very few settings. These settings are, eat, drink, mate, rest and shed. Because of this, snakes don’t actually need to have fun in the way humans do. Snakes don’t benefit from the social or physical aspects for their mental health. 

Corn snakes do however like to interact with the world. They like to explore and investigate new things and places. So having some extra accessories which you can provide in their enclosure will ensure a healthier living style for your snake. 

Corn snakes need to stay stimulated. Put yourself in their situation. Imagine if you only had a water bowl and a couple of hides to explore. That would soon become very boring. So recreating the vivarium and changing things around will help to keep your corn snake stimulated.

Stimulating your corn snakes curiosity is key. Having many different smells, texture, elevations and tunnels, will ensure your snake has a lot of exploring to do. It’s recommended to move these items around at least once a week, to keep your snake entertained.

Ways You Can Better Your Corn Snakes Life

There are many different ways you can better a snakes lifestyle. So here are a few ideas to keep in mind when creating a playful environment.

Introducing new smells

A corn snakes eyesight really isn’t the best, but they do have a heightened sense of smell because of this. Smell is thought as their most reliable sense, used to navigate and hunt. Introducing new smells into a snakes enclosure will trigger its senses. Causing curiosity to take over their brain. They will quickly want to explore these new smells. Mainly to make sure they are to threat to their safety.

Listed below are some items that are suitable for including into your snakes enclosure.

Some new smells can include;

  • New plant and flower cuttings
  • Non citrus fruits
  • Rocks and branches from the garden (need to be sterilised first)
  • A small item of clothing from yourself for a friend (something that can’t be swallowed)
  • Clean, new substrate

All of these items above have been used for many years by snake enthusiast. These are tried and tested methods which keep your snake completely safe from any foreign objects.

Suitable substrate for burrowing

There are many different substrates which you can use for corn snakes. Newspapers and paper towels are used most commonly due to being the cheapest option for many. This is perfectly fine, however it doesn’t offer much excitement. By this is mean, it has no real smell, and no real texture.

Some more interesting choices can include, Aspen shavings, Cypress mulch and Orchid bark. These three substrate choices have different smells and textures which your corn snake will enjoy. Changing the enclosure substrate every so often will trick your snake into thinking they’re somewhere new. In affect, this will heighten their curiosity and cause them to explore their new surroundings.

Treasure hunting

Treasure hunting is a great way to keep your corn snake entertained, specially when it’s time to feed. Most snake owner dangle the prey right in front of their corn snakes face and wait for them to strike. Whilst this is a great way to feed your corn snake, it’s not the most intriguing. 

In the wild snakes have to actively search and hunt for their prey. Very rarely will a meal just walk straight into their striking range. That’s too easy. Snake will spend hours, sometimes day searching for a meal. So replicating this in the enclosure will create some entertainment for your snake.

When your snake is resting, try hiding the prey somewhere within the vivarium. A great technique is to create a trail of scent. You can do this by rubbing the prey on different parts of the enclosure, for example, on the rocks and climbing branches before hiding it somewhere else. When your corn snake comes out of its hide from resting, it will be overwhelmed with the scent of prey. From this point, the search is on. 

This methods it commonly used as it replicates the corn snakes natural instinct to hunt for prey. It’s also a great method for stimulating all your snakes scenes. 

Corn Snake Climbing Toys Rotation

Finally we have the rotation of furniture within the vivarium. In the wild a corn snake would spend its mornings and evening exploring its surroundings. These surrounding would change every so often, from dirt to gravel, from concrete to grass. The environment they would be exposed to would change all the time as they move from place to place.

To replicate this, you should completely change your snakes vivarium around. Have a complete refit. Change the substrate, change the hide locations, water bowl location, add new furniture, the lot. This will give your corn snake a completely new environment to explore. 

You should aim to rotate this every time you clean your snakes enclosure. This will feel like your snake has found a new place to call home for the next week or so.

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

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Why Do Corn Snakes Climb? – Evading Capture, Or Just For Fun

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