These interesting snakes originated from Africa and Europe. They enjoy burrowing into the substrate during the day, as their name would suggest. These snakes are easier to care for than most species and can be kept in small enclosures, making them very popular as pets
Males will average 15-18 inches, while females can average 24-36 inches
15+ years with proper care.
Feed your snake an appropriately sized rodent weekly. By "appropriately sized" we mean prey items that are no bigger around than the snake at its largest point. These snakes can eat mice their entire lives - starting off with pinkies as a hatchling & moving up in size as the animal grows. Do not handle your snake for at least a day after feeding, as this can lead to regurgitation. These snakes have GREAT feeding responses - be aware of this as you are feeding, as sometimes these snakes become over stimulated by the smell of food & may mistakenly bite a keeper in their excitement. Fortunately, due to their voracious appetites, sand boas are generally pretty easy to convert to frozen/thawed or pre-killed rodents (see Snake Feeding care sheet). Never leave a live rodent unattended with ANY snake.
Juveniles require a minimum of a 10-gallon tank; for a full grown male African bullfrog, a 20+ gallon tank is necessary.
That said, there are many different enclosures that work extremely well, including but not limited to: plastic sweater boxes (i.e. Rubbermaid), melamine racks, Freedom Breeder cages, and any of the commercially available plastic-type reptile cages, (i.e. those from Vision Herp & other similar manufacturers).
Glass aquariums & tanks with screen tops also work quite well for corn snakes as they do not require higher humidity. Also refer to our Snake Caging care sheet for more information.
A 10 gallon tank will more than comfortably house an adult male corn snake and still allow space for a nice display vivarium. A female will be more comfortable in a 20 gallon tank. They can be housed in small, same sex groups and can be comfortably housed in large enclosures.
No matter what, the enclosure in which you keep your snake must be secure. Ensure that your snake's cage is escape-proof before you start & save yourself the potential stress and heartache of never finding an adventurous snake on the lam. Also remember that ALL enclosures must allow for a proper thermal gradient that the snake can utilize, with a hot spot on one end and a cooler spot on the other.
There are quite a few substrates that work especially well for these snakes, and choosing one is a matter of personal preference for your animal's setup. Snake approved sand works very well for sand boas as the snakes seem to enjoy burrowing. They can also be housed in aspen bedding if you cannot find sand safe for snakes.
Spot-clean your snake's enclosure as necessary. When feces/urates/uneaten prey items are present, remove them as soon as possible. Clean & disinfect the water bowl on a weekly basis. Depending on cage conditions, remove all substrate & cage furniture and completely disinfect using a commercially available cleaners approximately every 30 days. Rinse the enclosure thoroughly and allow to dry before replacing cage furniture & your snake.
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Provide your snake with a basking spot of 90-95° F and an ambient (background) temperature of 70 - 75° F. The ambient temperature should not fall below 70° F. It is vitally important to KNOW the temperatures at which you are keeping your snake(s). DO NOT GUESS!! A great way to monitor temps is to use a digital indoor/outdoor thermometer with a probe. Stick the thermometer to the inside of the cage on the cool end and place the probe on the warm end, and you'll have both sides covered at once.
There are several ways to go about heating the enclosure: undercage heating pads, ceramic heat emitters, basking bulbs (both regular daytime & red "night" bulbs) are just a few. Use thermostats, rheostats and/or timers to control your heat source. Do not use hot rocks with snakes as they often heat unevenly over too small of a surface area & can cause serious burns.
Fortunately these snakes are very low-maintenance regarding humidity requirements. Normal household ambient humidity is fine for this species, however, if incomplete or stuck sheds are observed humidity can be raised slightly by providing a humidity box for the snake. This is as simple as packing a hut with damp sphagnum moss, giving the snake access to the humidity chamber when it so desires. This is really only necessary if your snake is experiencing trouble shedding, as an environment that is too damp can quickly cause respiratory problems for these types of snakes.
A UVB bulb is recommended and should run on a 12/12 cycle, meaning 12 hours on & 12 hours off. Continuous bright, overhead lighting is stressful to snakes, especially if a hiding spot is not made available within the enclosure.
Water & Accessories
Always make fresh, water available to your corn in a clean water dish. This is not a species that soaks regularly, so the size of the water bowl is up to you & does not necessarily need to be large enough for the snake to climb into on a regular basis. Ensure that the bowl is not too deep for juvenile animals - 1" or so will suffice. Snakes of many
species may defecate in their water bowls from time to time, so be prepared for cleaning, disinfecting & a water change when necessary. It is often beneficial to have a spare water bowl for such occasions, so that one may be used while the other is being cleaned.
Notes and Comments
Sand boas are a less common snake that make great "beginner" pets. They are attractive, low-maintenance individuals that grow into large, robust captives when properly cared for. If handled regularly, they remain quite friendly. They can be fun to feed as well, as they are ambush predators and will emerge from the substrate to catch their prey.
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