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Tips for Breeding Corn Snakes

Updated on March 9, 2011
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Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises and other exotics since 2003

Breeding Snakes

Corn snakes are one of the most easily bred snakes in the reptile market. It's estimated that thousands are produced by hobbyists every year. So when you decide to breed your snake, you need to remember that if you're going to sell the offspring, how will you compete with thousands of other snakes and hobbyists?

But, I do understand that by breeding your snakes, you will get the pleasure of seeing babies born, and in some cases, the surprise hatching of unusually attractive snakes. It's completely understandable, but remember that as you acquire new snakes and sell the offspring to offset the expenses, it's still going to be an expensive hobby that more than likely you'll never make real money at.

Think carefully before you decide to breed your snakes, as making an income is going to be very difficult and competitive. It's best to keep it small and fun, as it'll be easier for you to manage, and you'll see less expenses.

If you really think that you'll make money and earn a large profit breeding snakes, much less any reptile, you're a very disillusioned person (no offense). So please it's best to start off small and enjoyable before you find yourself selling your entire collection because of the burden.

(Note: I don't mean to discourage anyone from breeding their reptiles, just remember that you want to do it because you have a passion for them. Make sure that you're not focusing on money because you'll never get anywhere, as it truly is a competitive market. By the way, I speak this from personal experience, as I am a small hobby breeder of select gecko species.)

So, on with how to breed corn snakes.

Many suggest that if you cool them and put pairs together in early spring, corn snakes will breed more readily.

Motley Corn Snake

by 3sth3r
by 3sth3r

Prebreeding Conditions

First make sure that your snakes are in perfect health before you attempt to breed them. Any health defects and concerns, can cause complications with the female and with the offspring. Plus, when you set the snakes in a hibernation state, any sickly snakes will quickly deteriorate.

Before starting the brumation, put a little weight on the snakes, as they will lose a few grams or more. Either feed them larger prey or feed them at a higher frequency. Make sure to do this throughout summer and fall.

Right before you start brumation, make sure that the snakes have completely emptied their digestive tract.

Once you're sure that the snakes have emptied their digestive tract, you can set them at a pre-cooling state, in which you set them up in another tank with temperatures of about 65-70F for about 5-7 days.

Next, set them at temperatures between 55-60F for about a month, and then set the temperatures around 50F for another month or two, making the full brumation period about 2-1/2 to 3 months.

The slow decrease in temperatures helps to prevent shock to the snake's body, going from his normal temperatures to 50F would be a great shock and would probably cause more complications than a normal cooling process.

Corn Snake Copulation
Corn Snake Copulation

After Cooling

After the snakes have been at 50F for at least a month, you will basically take the process in reverse. Set them at 65-70F for about 5-7 days, and then put them back in their regular enclosures or just up the temps to their regular temps, however you have worked the cooling process.

After leaving them at their regular temperatures for about 2-3 days, go ahead and try to feed them a small meal, and after about 5 days start your regular feeding schedule and regiment.

When putting the male and female snake together, you have essentially two options.

  1. Wait until the female sheds once after coming out of brumation. This is considered the optimal breeding period because during this time, the skin of a freshly shed female may contain pheromones that can elicit courtship and breeding.
  2. Wait until the female has eaten 3 or 4 times after brumation. Many breeders prefer this method because it ensures that the female has recovered fully from brumation.

Once you've placed the male and female together, continue your regular feeding schedule, separating them for feeding.

Although, most copulations occur at night, sometimes they will start to copulate after being fed and after shedding.

You can either separate the male and female after they have copulated a few times, or you can wait until you notice swelling in the females abdomen. Once you do notice the swelling, feed the female often to help boost her body's nutrition and to help reduce substantial weight loss.

By HGHjim
By HGHjim

Egg Laying

The female should lay the eggs about 20 to 30 days after copulation.

About 1 to 2 weeks (7-14 days) before the female lays, she will shed; after this point, she will not eat until after she lays the eggs.

This is the optimal point at which you should prepare the lay box. You can use a bucket or plastic storage box that is large enough for the female to coil in with an access hole in the side.

Fill the container half-full (or 1-2 inches) with moist (not saturated) medium (either peat moss, sphaghum moss, or vermiculite). This will help the eggs from dehydrating as well as from getting rolled around by the female's body.

In most cases the female will lay in the lay box, but otherwise, she may lay in another shelter un under landscape.

During the laying process, do not disturb the female. This is a very stressful period. You may have to remove her from the box to gather the eggs, but make sure to give her at least 2 or 3 hours to rest after she's completed laying. At this point you should go ahead and offer a small meal to help boost her nutrients.

Corn Snake Hatchlings

by HGHjim
by HGHjim


The last thing that you want to do is lose the eggs after all this trouble, so make sure that you are able to get appropriate 1) temperatures and 2) humidity levels. You can't do this without proper incubation, so don't leave the eggs in the enclosure. It is not so common to see eggs successfully hatched when they are left in the enclosure with the female snake.

You can either use a hovabator incubator, or any poultry style incubator (WITHOUT the egg turner); a homemade incubator made from a styrofoam cooler, heat tape, and a thermostat; or a shelf in a room that has a stable temperature of 76-86F. Yes, that means if you purchase or make an incubator, you need to have the incubation temperature set to 76-86F. Typically, the higher the temperature, the sooner the eggs will hatch, but that can also cause problems with hatchlings that grow too fast, setting the temperature to about 80-84F should be ideal, and the snakes should hatch around 50-55 days (give or take).

When incubating the eggs, you'll want to use a medium that will hold the humidity well. Many people recommend vermiculite and perlite. Mix the medium with water, using a 4:3 ratio (medium:water). Some breeders prefer a 1:1 ratio. Just make sure that the medium is moist, but not overly moist so that you can squeeze water out of a clump of the medium.

The container that you decide to use needs ventilation holes (small ones) that allow air exchange.

Bury the eggs so that one-half to one-third of the egg is still visible. Be very careful not to turn the eggs over, as you risk drowning the embryo.

After about 40-45 days many breeders will take a moist paper towel or newspaper and cover the eggs. This is thought to keep the egg shells soft to give the hatchlings an easier time breaking through.


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      Hayley4tino 3 years ago

      I thought you might find this information useful. I know the usual incubation time is 60-70 days but one of the snake eggs in my incubator hatched after 92 days and now two more are hatching as well !!! the temperature and humidity is correct I think, the babies seem healthy and they hatched naturally.

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      Nixy 5 years ago

      I have a 4 yr old female who is getting ready to lay her second clutch. She shares a large cage with the male and another female who is only about 18 months old. she wont let the male in her lay box so now he has taken up chasing the younger female all over the cage. Should i remove him and only join him for breeding. My females get along great.

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      lexy 5 years ago

      check out there is a corn snake calc. that will tell you what chance % wise you'll have based onwhat you input for the bred of male and female i found it to be very helpful

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      JOJO 5 years ago

      Just sucessfully mated Mabd and Herne, a crimson and caramel corn snakes. Looking forward to gravid?

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      grant 5 years ago

      am a experienced snake breeder and i dissagree on all ur stuff i make a large profit and it dosent coast me a peeny and ur tempertures should always be at 102c bredding teps sits at 70c 1month then 50c the next

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      Cheyenne 5 years ago

      I have a female corn and she is not eating its been about two weeks she has been seen by the vet and he thinks she could be getting ready to lay eggs is this normal? Not eating.

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      John 5 years ago

      After having a clutch each 2 female corns had lumps near their vents. After about a month they both exiting them. Them being hard eggs (slugs). One of them has more, bigger then the first. Is this normal?

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      Tristan 5 years ago

      Hi, thanks for the article, but there's something I need to know. My corn snakes laid eggs but I don't think they're the right size. They're about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, but they are very skinny (1/2 to 3/4 inch) and they don't look like the ones I see pictures of online. Are they big enough? Do the dents in them mean anything? Thanks

    • profile image

      colette 5 years ago

      Hi our corn snake has laid eggs about 68 days ago we bought an incubator and are thinking will they hatch they are white and plump and looking very healthy but no sign of hatching there is some pimpling on htem but no cracking also our female is acting strange again and not eating so im sure she is going to lay again is that possible and should we separate her from the male as i dnt want her to keep getting caught by him as i dnt want her to be hurt by him as she is my favourite one

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      tyler manchen 5 years ago

      i seen afew questions in the last bit id like to answer 1 was you do not take the eggs out 1 at a time as shes lays them you wait afew hours after the female lays them because its tiring for her and you half to let her rest for a bit before taking her off the clutch, also it does not matter you can put the male with the female or the female with the male does not matter witch order leave them together until your female is noticibly showing, the female must be no less then 3 years 3 years is the minumum and must be 300 grams this does not apply to the male the male can be a bit younger.

    • MarkMAllen15 profile image

      MarkMAllen15 6 years ago

      I never thought snakes also need incubation. Thanks for the knowledge you shared! Very good hub!

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      david brombaugh 6 years ago

      hi i have a male snowball corn and a red female corn i want to put them togather in the same tank would anything happen the male is 45 inches long and the female is a little over 2 foot long what do i do my number is 641-919-2127

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      Tristan 6 years ago

      Thank you so much! Such a helpful article!

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      Tammy21 6 years ago

      Hello :) this page is so helpful and I can not believe how rude some people can be! Anyway I have had a surprise clutch I noticed them this morning I didn't have a clue in what to do so I called the safari park and was told I could incubate eggs in a pot in viv on top of heat mat and under light I rushed out and bought the vermiculite now I have a few questions if that's ok! Am I doing right in completely covering the eggs with vermiculite?a few eggs have sunk a little so I'm spraying them every few hours is this ok? And mum is very slim and weak I have tried feeding her but she won't take,it was not my intention to breed and I have now separated the snakes I had been told one was girl one was boy then both females I also didn't know they could hurt each other at all hence me separating them now I have seen and read this thoroughly your brilliant and your advice is spot on :) x

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      darrius 6 years ago

      I have just bought 2 corn snakes 1 albino and 1 albino snow what color will i get?

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      What substrate are you using? Depending on the substrate, whether you poke hols will vary. Do not poke holes if you are using hatchrite, otherwise, there's no reason why you can't poke small holes for air ventillation.

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      cornsnakes11 6 years ago

      hi could some one please give me there opinion please as i'm due to incubate my first clutch and i have been told 2 different things some ppl have told me not to put holes in the tubs they need to be airtight. and some ppl have told me to put holes in the side i'm confused which is the best please help me many thanks

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 6 years ago from Georgia

      You should not keep them together. Colubrids are cannibalistic.

      It's not necessarily age, but weight. At least 3-4 years, in some cases. The female should be at least 300 grams.

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      jessabella 6 years ago

      Just got a baby corn snake and i am planning to breed her.

      Around what age could I breed her?

      How long can I keep the 2 together they are male and female. male is 36cm and the female is 42cm

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      Lise 6 years ago

      Breeding female corns should be 3 yrs, 300 gr. and 3 feet long. Waiting until they're bigger increases chance of healthy eggs and reduces risk of her being unable to lay.

      Male should just be old enough to show interest in her and big enough not to get eaten :D

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