Corn snakes make great pets because they are strong and patient. Still, you should know how often you should touch your corn snake.
When you handle a snake, you feel like you have a connection with it. You should learn, though, how often and for how long you should touch the snake.
How often should I hold my corn snake?
Most of the time, you should only touch your corn snake once a week. You shouldn’t touch them for about two weeks after they come to your house, or until they start eating well. Also, there are many situations in which you shouldn’t touch your snake at all.
I can show you how to make a corn snake feel comfortable around you, how often you should handle it, how to hold it, and when you shouldn’t hold it.
As a snake owner, I have a lot of different snakes that act and feel in different ways. I can tell you how often you should handle your corn snake, if you have one.
How to Make a Corn Snake Become Familiar With You
Letting Your Snake Get Used to You
For the first week, you should leave your snake alone. When snakes are brought into a new home for the first time, it takes them a while to get used to their new surroundings. Give the snake a few days to get used to its tank. After a week, you can start to play with your snake.
If your snake is still getting mean after a week, wait 3–4 days before trying again.
Changing the way your snake’s tank looks often will help it get used to you. Move the snake’s water dish, home, and any branches around the tank so it gets used to you being there.
Don’t touch your snake while you are moving things. Walk slowly and deliberately so you don’t scare your snake. This will show it that you don’t want to hurt it.
If your snake looks at you with an S-shaped neck, it may be getting ready to strike. Carefully pull your hand away from the snake so that it doesn’t bite you.
Keep your hand about 3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10.2 cm) from the snake’s head so it can smell you. If it gets ready to strike, move your hand carefully out of the way. If your snake doesn’t move when you touch it, get closer.
If you’re worried about getting bitten and your snake is aggressive, you might want to wear thick gloves as an extra layer of protection.
Get in touch with your snake while it is still in the aquarium. Once your snake has gotten used to its new environment, touch the back of its body, near the tail, gently. Instead of putting your hand straight over the snake, try putting it in from the side. Get closer and closer until you can touch its head.
- Don’t touch the snake’s head right away because it might get scared and bite if you do.
- Don’t try to catch a snake by its tail, because it will probably spin around and hurt you.
If you touch your snake, you should wash your hands because it might have salmonella.
For another week, keep getting to know your snake. Every day, move the tank around and put your hand in front of your snake three or four times at different times.
Over the course of a week, your snake will get used to you and be less likely to strike or bite you when you try to handle it.
- If your snake is still being aggressive, don’t touch it until it stops.
Handling Your Snake
Wash your hands before you touch your snake. Before you put your hand in the tank, wash your hands well. This keeps your snake from getting sick as you get ready to hold it.
Grab your snake in the middle of its body. Slide your hand between the snake’s head and its tail. Gently squeeze your snake’s body until you have a good hold on it.
If you are nervous or unsure when you pick up your snake, it will be able to tell. Instead, keep trying over and over again so that your snake gets used to being handled.
If you feed your snake in its cage, it may think it’s time to eat when you try to pick it up and it bites your hand. If this happens, start moving your snake to a different tank before you feed it.
Wrap the snake’s tail around your finger or arm. Let the snake’s back end rest on your arm and in your hand, and use one hand to hold the middle of the snake’s body up.
Wrap bigger snakes around your arm and smaller snakes between your fingers to keep them from flailing as you hold them.
- Let a snake like a ball python or a boa wrap around your arm to make you feel better.
- If the snake is thin, like a garter or corn snake, wrap the back of it around your fingers to stop it from moving.
- If your snake is longer than 4 feet (1.2 meters), ask someone to help you hold it for every 3 feet it is longer (0.91 m).
The snake’s head should be turned away from you. Snakes can bite anything that moves quickly in front of their heads, so when you first start to handle a snake, don’t point it at your body.
You can move the snake’s head in the opposite direction by pushing on its neck with your arm. Moving slowly and carefully will help your snake get used to the new routine.
As your snake gets used to being around you, let it look in your direction. Just keep an eye out for strange behaviour.
Spending Time with Your Snake
Sit near your snake’s tank often so it can get used to the smell of you. Spend some time in front of your snake’s tank when you’re not handling it so it gets used to your smell.
This will help your snake become accustomed to you so that it will not bite you when you are present.
- Your snake will become less aggressive as you get to know it.At least a few minutes a day should be spent near your tank.
Every 4-5 days, take your snake out of its tank. Try to handle your snake as much as you can so it gets used to being near you. Try to hold your snake for 20–30 minutes a day so it can get to know you.
- Don’t touch your snake for about two to three days after you feed it. It needs time to digest.
- This works well for big snakes like boas and pythons. Smaller snakes move more quickly and may be able to get away easier.
Keep your snake on your lap while you’re taking it easy. Keep your snake on your lap when you play video games, watch TV, or read a book so it can spend time with you.
To keep your snake from getting scared, don’t make any sudden or quick moves, and be quiet.
- To keep it from losing body heat, don’t let your snake out of its tank for more than 30 minutes at a time.
Give your snake new branches and things to climb in its tank. Change the environment of your snake’s tank to give it new places to look around and hide. After you’ve added the new enrichment to your snake’s tank, put it back in and watch it move around.
How to Hold Your Corn Snake
Before you pick up your corn snake, make sure it is awake by tapping it gently with a paper towel roll or stroking its body with a snake hook.
This will help it understand that it is handling time and not eating time. You’ll know the snake is awake when its tongue starts to move. If you don’t want to get bit, wear a pair of light gloves.
Approach the snake with your hand(s) from the side. If you come at it from above, it may become defensive because predators often attack from above in the wild.
When you pick it up, hold as much of its body as you can, but don’t hold its tail or squeeze its head.
Once the snake is out of its container, keep it close to you and use your hands to gently guide its movements.
Corn snakes like to look around, so be ready for them to climb up your arms. Many like to wrap themselves around their owners’ necks or try to climb up their owners’ facial features.
I’ve heard that glasses are especially popular for some reason. If this bothers you, use your hand to gently move the snake’s head away from your face.
When NOT to hold your corn snake
If your snake has eaten in the last 48 hours, it’s not a good idea to start handling it. Handling a snake soon after it has eaten can cause it to throw up, which is very stressful and can even kill the snake. At best, it’s a very unpleasant thing to go through.
Will it bite me?
Any animal with a mouth can bite, and it will bite if it’s annoyed enough. I’d bite someone, too, if they were annoying enough.
At this stage of life, hatchlings and young juveniles are very nervous and defensive (they have a bit of a Napoleon complex), and they will attack anything that moves. This can be scary, but don’t worry—you probably won’t even notice it.
Even bites from adults aren’t very dangerous or painful, so you really don’t have to worry about anything.
Don’t try to pull the snake off of you if it doesn’t “strike and let go.” This could cause the snake to lose its teeth, which could lead to a bad infection. Pour some cold water or Listerine mouthwash over its head instead, and it should come off on its own. Use soap and water to clean the “wound,” and you’ll be fine.
Corn Snake Body Language
Tongue flicking in and out: Snake is “smelling” the air. This is how it knows when prey or a human is nearby. Also signals that the snake is awake.
No movement or tongue flicking: Snake is probably asleep (they don’t have eyelids to close). Approach with caution.
Head retracted, neck coiled into ‘S’ shape: Snake feels threatened and is preparing to defend itself if necessary. May also be preparing to strike at prey.
Hissing: Snake is telling you to “go away.”
Tail shaking/rattling: Snake feels threatened and is trying to scare away the perceived predator.
Musking/defecating during handling: Snake perceives you as a predator, and uses poo or an unpleasant-smelling musk to try to get away.
Clouded/bluish eyes: Snake is preparing to shed. May be extra defensive because it can’t see well.
At the end of the day, respect your snake’s mood. If they seem cranky or uncomfortable, leave them be.
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