Corn snakes make great pets for beginner snake owners due to the calm and docile nature of these little creatures. They are easy to care for and generally don’t get very large. While they are quite low-maintenance, corn snakes require enclosures with humidity around 50% or at least between 40% and 60% RH.
Note that both the humidity and temperature are essential to your corn snake. Your pet’s enclosure needs a temperature gradient, with a warm basking space between 85°F and 90°F (29°C to 32°C) or no higher than 95°F (35°C), a cooler side of at least 75°F to 80°F (24°C to 27°C), an ambient temperature of 80°F to 85°F, and nighttime temperature no lower than 65°F (18°C).
Corn snakes thrive in a variety of habitats, but particularly in warm and moderately moist conditions. To maintain your pet’s required environments, you may invest in a good thermometer and hygrometer for its enclosure. Like other shedding animals, a corn snake may require higher humidity (up to 70%) at certain periods. However, this humidity may be achieved by providing moist hides instead of raising the humidity for the whole enclosure. Both low humidity and high humidity can have negative effects on your pet corn snake.
Ideal Corn Snake Humidity
First of all, you must understand the role of humidity in your pet snake’s health and comfort. Humidity generally refers to the amount of water vapor in the air. We measure the relative humidity as a percentage of the actual vapor content compared to the maximum amount the air could hold at a certain temperature. A higher relative humidity level means there is more water in the air. The best conditions for corn snakes are around 50% humidity.
Moisture is important for the health of corn snakes as they are used to warm and slightly humid climates. They are especially susceptible to respiratory infections and fungal disease marked by skin discoloration, which may be caused by unbalanced humidity.
To keep your corn snake healthy and comfortable in its home, maintain humidity between 40% to 60% at all times, if not at a stable 50%, but never higher than 70%. Higher humidity allows the snake to keep its skin moist enough but not too much that it stays wet.
Either too high or too low humidity can negatively impact your pet’s health. Lack of humidity can lead to respiratory issues and shedding problems. Meanwhile, too much humidity may cause fungal infections and makes your pet more vulnerable to diseases and parasites.
What Happens When Humidity is Too Low?
It’s essential to keep the humidity inside your corn snake’s enclosure within the optimal range. Humidity typically changes by a few levels at different times of the day, especially during extreme weather conditions. However, you should keep it at least 40% even at nighttime when the temperature drops. Exposure to low humidity for extended periods can give your pet difficulties to shed properly.
Lack of moisture during the shedding of skin can result in stuck shed, which can be particularly harmful to the snake’s eyes. Extremely low humidity can also damage the new scales, causing skin infections. You may notice these negative effects during the shedding period, which happens every four to six weeks for the young and about once every three months for adult corn snakes.
Prolonged exposure to low humidity makes your pet more susceptible to diseases, but the effects may depend on how low the humidity is, how long the exposure, and the individual health of your pet snake.
How to Increase Humidity in Corn Snake Enclosure
Maintaining proper humidity levels in your corn snake tank shouldn’t be too hard. You can adjust the humidity by changing the tank setup, reducing ventilation, and adding water inside. You may also need to change or add substrate, add a humid hide, or mist the enclosure.
Reduce the ventilation.
The simplest way to increase humidity inside your pet’s enclosure is to reduce ventilation. If you already have low ambient humidity, ventilation makes it harder to maintain the humidity at the right levels for your corn snake. Vent holes will only introduce more of the dry air into the tank. Even if you manage to increase the humidity for a short time, the moist air will only rise up and out of the tank through the vents on top.
If you have ventilation holes on the top, you may cover about half of them (but not all!) to help keep the humidity inside. To do this, simply place a cloth over the lid or cover or use aluminum foil to trap moisture. Remember to clamp the cover shut because corn snakes are known to be talented escape artists.
Ventilation outside the tank can als9 affect the humidity inside. If it is placed under an air vent, close to a window, or anywhere exposed to direct sunlight and dry air, this can reduce the humidity levels. Male sure to place the enclosure in a more humid area.
Add a water bowl.
While you reduce the ventilation, you must also add moisture to the corn snake’s enclosure. If you have a small water bowl inside, replace it with a large, shallow bow. Place it on the hot side and fill it with water to have more surface area of water. Fill up the bowl regularly to serve as a constant source of water, which then evaporates into the air. In combination with your heat source, the water turns into vapor more quickly, raising the relative humidity inside the tank.
Change the substrate.
The tank’s substrate acts as the flooring for your pet snake to burrow and hide for protection. Perhaps the simplest and cheapest substrates to use are shredded inkless newspapers or paper towels. They are easy to clean but not very pleasing to look at. They can absorb moisture perfectly, but they’re not particularly effective in maintaining humidity levels inside the tank. In fact, they might even dry out easily when exposed to heat.
The best type of substrate to promote humidity inside the tank is some type of absorbent material like aspen coconut fiber. These options provide more moisture and longer water retention to help maintain proper humidity easily.
Add a humid hide
Humid hides are a must in any reptile tank. There should be at least one on each side of the tank to help maintain proper humidity. A moist hide in the hot spot gives your pet a warm and humid place to go whenever it needs to. It might even stay inside for days during shedding to get the moisture it needs. A humid hide may have humidity up to 70% and it must be properly enclosed so as not to increase the humidity for the entire tank.
Mist the tank
Most corn snakes do not need to be misted regularly. But if you need to increase the humidity inside the enclosure instantly, you can simply add moisture to the air by misting. Along with the moist hides and water bowl, misting your snake’s body directly can help maintain its required humidity level, especially when it sheds.
How to Keep Humidity Up in a Corn Snake Enclosure
Once you have achieved the humidity corn snakes need around 50% to 60%, you must maintain it to prevent any problems. This will require just a few easy steps.
You can keep misting the enclosure and fill the water bowl regularly to provide constant moisture. When shedding, check the condition of your pet and mist its skin directly to prevent stuck shed. You should also check the substrate to see if it’s still moist or you need to mist it. Ensure that any heating device inside the tank is working properly.
Lastly, you may want to invest in a humidifier or reptile fogger designed specifically for snake enclosures. This is particularly helpful if you live in a very dry region. Instead of misting manually, this solution keeps the right humidity at all times. Make sure the fogger or humidifier tank always has water.
What to do if the Humidity is Too High
Too much humidity can also have negative effects on your corn snake, particularly respiratory issues and fungal infections. The best way to monitor relative humidity in the tank is to install a hygrometer. If the humidity reading reaches above 60% or 70%, then you need to reduce humidity as this can be just as harmful to your pet as low humidity is. High humidity creates a perfect environment for mold and other fungal growth, potentially causing infections and other diseases.
When humidity is high, the first thing you can do to keep it down is to add airflow and improve ventilation. Without adequate airflow, the moisture in the air gets trapped inside, raising the humidity. Introducing fresh air through proper ventilation allows the moist air to escape. You can add an air screen on top of the tank to let some cool air in.
You should also monitor the relative humidity and temperature in the room. Take note of sudden temperature changes, particularly at night. Also, avoid direct sunlight from hitting the tank as it can increase the temperature and humidity inside.
To prevent higher humidity, remove or at least reduce the moisture inside the tank. Replace your water bowl with a smaller one and place it on the cooler side to avoid adding more humidity. You may also have to switch to a drier substrate. Or, you can simply reduce the depth or let some of the moisture dry out first before adding the substrate into the tank.
Lastly, you need a constant heat source to help dry the moist air and keep humidity down. While humidity is essential, you must first stabilize the temperatures in your corn snake’s enclosure and then you can adjust the humidity accordingly.
Corn Snake Ideal Temperature
Like other reptiles, corn snakes need a temperature gradient inside the enclosure to regulate their body temperature. Take note of the temperature on the cool side, the basking spot, the ambient air temperature, and the average temperature at nighttime.
The hot side or the basking spot should be around 85°F to 90°F but not above 95°F. Make sure it’s only warm enough to bask but not too hot that it burns. The cool side should be maintained at around 75°F to 80°F. Place at least one humid hide on each side. The temperature gradient between the hot and cold areas must be from 80°F to 85°F. And at night, the temperature should be no lower than 65°F.
To help maintain these temperatures, the basking spot should have some type of heat source. The two most common ways to heat a corn snake’s space are by using heat bulbs or heat mats. Although, heat mats may be less reliable if you don’t monitor them frequently. The best choice is usually a basking bulb, which also provides lighting.
Heat Source for Corn Snake Enclosure
The simplest way to provide heat for your corn snake is to place a basking bulb on the hot spot. Corn snakes warm up by basking in this side of the tank. Usually, a bulb between 75 and 120 watts is recommended to achieve the right temperatures, but your exact needs depend on the size of the tank and the ambient temperature in your home.
Ceramic heat emitters are also a good heating option if the temperature of your house drops to 65°F or below at night. Remember to turn off the basking bulbs every night for around 12 hours. At this time, you may use a ceramic heat emitter to provide heat without light.
Another option is a heat mat or heat pad designed for placement under the tank. However, this type of mat isn’t ideal as they only heat the tank surface and not the entire enclosure. They might also burn the snake, especially if they’re not controlled by a thermostat. Heat rocks will likely cause the same burn issues as well.
Lighting for Corn Snake Enclosure
As mentioned, basking bulbs are both heat and light sources for your corn snakes. It’s recommended to turn on the basking bulbs in the enclosure for 12 hours a day, so that there is 12 hours of sunlight and 12 hours of darkness similar to natural conditions in a corn snake habitat.
Some UVB lighting (3% to 5%) is good for corn snakes as well. Avoid blue, red, or any colored bulbs as they can irritate your corn snake’s eyes and interrupt its sleep. Ideally, you should only need a heat lamp (white-domed) and a UVB bulb in your corn snake’s enclosure.
Corn snakes, like any other pet, require proper care to be healthy and comfortable. Some essential factors you must maintain inside their enclosures are the humidity levels, temperatures, and lighting. Keep the temperatures around 75°F to 90°F from the cool side to the basking spot, and the average humidity around 50% to 60%, or 40% at the very least. If you need to increase the humidity, you can do so by misting the tank and refilling the water bowl inside. Make sure to provide at least two humidity hides for your pet. During shedding, healthy corn snakes tolerate higher humidity up to 70%. Corn snake keepers must be very careful not to raise the humidity too much or it also becomes a problem.