Dead or live food.

Molt of the corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus)When the body of the Corn snake grows, the outer skin does not grow with it. That is why the corn snake, like all other snakes, needs to shed its skin from time to time. Because young animals grow faster than adults, they have to shed their skin more often. Young animals shed their skin 8 – 12 times a year. Adult corn snakes molt only every 6 months. Snakes grow all their life. Therefore they also molt their whole life. The moulting intervals are very food dependent. If the snake is fed a lot, it grows faster and has to molt more often. The new skin grows under the old one. Hardens after the moult. As the first visible sign of an imminent moult the eyes become cloudy. Between the old and the new skin a whitish liquid film is formed.

This film facilitates the removal of the old skin. Since also the cornea of the eye is skinned, you can see this liquid film there. In addition, the colors of the snake fade now.

Now you should not feed the snake anymore. The skinning takes a lot of energy and it can happen that the corn snake simply chokes out a half-digested mouse during the skinning process. In most cases the snakes do not eat anything during this time.

During the preparation for moulting and during moulting the snake sees badly, because the eye is surrounded by the liquid film. Now they should be left alone. Do not remove from the terrarium. The humidity should also be right during the moulting phase. Otherwise you have to spray or put a wetbox in the terrarium. This preparatory phase lasts depending on environmental conditions 1 – 2 weeks.

Shortly before moulting the corn snake suddenly looks normal again. Also the cloudiness of the eyes has disappeared. This is because the liquid that was between the old and new skin is reabsorbed by the body. With this the outer, old skin dries out and is ready for shedding.

At the beginning of the actual moult, the corn snake rubs its head against branches or other furnishings. After some time the skin on the head bursts open. Now the snake wriggles through branches, crevices or the ground, so that the old skin gets stuck somewhere and the snake can crawl out of the old skin. The old skin is called a snake shirt.

Because the skin is more or less pulled apart during the moult, the adder shirt is not suitable for determining the length of a snake. The adder shirt is ca. 1.5 times the size of the snake itself. However, the old skin can be used for sex determination with the method of scale counting.

Skinning problems can be of various nature. Often there are problems when the humidity in the terrarium is too low. Especially during the moult you should look more carefully. If the humidity is too low, you have to spray with water or use a bigger drinking bowl, so that more water can evaporate. A wetbox can also be used for this purpose. A wetbox is a container that contains earth or moss, which should be moist, but never wet, and placed in a warm place. The corn snake can lay down on it, if it needs more humidity.

Dead or live food
<strong>Corn snake's viper's shirt</strong>
(click on the picture to enlarge)</p><p>From time to time it can happen that the corn snake does not shed its skin properly. Then scraps of the old skin remain attached. Then the keeping conditions should be checked. If the climate data in the terrarium are ok and the snake still does not molt properly, then it must be examined for diseases.</p><p>In the places that were not skinned, the old skin remains must be removed. Fungi and bacteria can settle under the old skin scraps. This can cause skin diseases. For this purpose the snake is bathed for 2-3 hours. Then let it crawl through a dry towel, which is lightly squeezed with the hand.</p><p>Friction loosens the moist old skin debris. If this does not work, the old skin remains can be removed very carefully with tweezers. The old skin should never be removed dry, because it sticks strongly to the lower tie and one can hurt the snake.</p><p>If the snake does not shed its skin, although there were signs like cloudy eyes, then there is danger of suffocation. The old skin becomes stiff and dry and the new skin underneath cannot breathe. Once the skin has been shed and the whitish liquid film has formed, the skinning must also be carried out under all circumstances.</p><p><h1>Nutrition of the corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus)</h1>In the wild corn snakes eat lizards, skinks, mice, small rats, small rabbits, bats and birds. Corn snakes in terrariums are usually fed with mice or small rats. Of course the size of the food is adapted to the size of the corn snake. Small corn snakes get baby mice, adult corn snakes eat big mice or small rats.</p><p>A big advantage of the corn snake is that it usually also accepts dead food animals. So you can get a stock of food animals and store them in the freezer. However, feed animals should not be frozen for more than 1 year. Before feeding, the food animal must be defrosted. The best way to do this is with warm water. Here you should be careful that the water is not too hot, otherwise it can happen that the food animal bursts open and that stinks violently.</p><p>Before feeding, check whether the food animal is really thawed properly. If the mouse is still frozen inside, then it can happen that the corn snake spits it out again.</p><p>If the mouse is well thawed, then it is grabbed with tweezers at the rear end and held out to the corn snake with the head first. After extensive licking, the corn snake grabs the mouse and begins to devour it. The devouring is done by a snake-typical mechanism. Due to the mobility of the lower jaw bones against the roof of the mouth, the prey is slowly pushed backwards in the mouth by alternately moving these elements.</p><p>At the same time, the lower jaw bones spread further and further apart, forming a large funnel. Once the prey animal has reached the pharyngeal opening, it is pushed down the esophagus to the stomach by undulating movements of the spine.</p><p>If you feed live mice, then the corn snake must kill them first before devouring them. Since the corn snake is a strangler, it grabs the mouse with its jaws and holds it in place. Then it wraps several coils around the mouse and begins to strangle it. Every time the mouse exhales, it tightens the loops more tightly. So it takes only a few seconds until the mouse is dead. When the mouse is dead, it carefully tongues the corn snake and begins to devour it head first.</p><p><h2>Dead or living food?</h2>It is difficult to say whether feeding with live or dead food animals is better. It is often argued that a live mouse could injure the snake. This may have happened before, but it is very rare. In any case the feeding should be monitored. uneaten food animals should be removed as soon as possible. Otherwise it can happen that they nibble at the corn snake.</p><p>I feed in a food box. This has the advantage that you can control exactly whether the snake eats. When feeding in the terrarium it can happen that the corn snake in its voracity eats parts of the substrate, which can then lead to blockages. When feeding several corn snakes it can also happen that 2 snakes want to devour a mouse from the front and back, which then leads to problems.</p><p>In addition, it can happen that when a live mouse is captured, a snake is killed. When they both entwine around the mouse, they do not release their grip until the prey animal is no longer alive. That is, the stronger corn snake loosens its grip only when nothing more stirs. Then the mouse. The weaker corn snake dead.</p><p>Therefore each corn snake comes in an extra food box. Once the prey animal has arrived in the stomach, you can put the corn snake back into the terrarium. This can be seen when the snake is licking its surroundings again and by the thick belly, see picture on the right.</p><p><h2>Feeding time</h2>Corn snakes are cold-blooded animals, which means that they only really get going at temperatures of 25° C - 32° C. This also applies to digestion. If you feed the corn snake early, when the temperatures are just at 20° C, then it can not digest and will spit out the undigested prey after some time again. That's why you should feed in the late afternoon or in the evening, when the snake is at operating temperature.</p><p>Since corn snakes are crepuscular and nocturnal, it is also in their natural rhythm if they are fed in the evening. The amount of food animals and the feeding interval depends on the age of the corn snakes. Young corn snakes get 1 - 2 baby mice every 7 days. For adult corn snakes, the feeding interval can be extended up to 14 - 18 days.</p><p><h1>Snakes in general</h1>Snakes are a suborder of reptiles. Snakes are found worldwide in almost all habitats. The only exceptions are the Antarctic, Arctic and permafrost regions. In snakes the extremities are almost completely degenerated.</p><p><h2>Appearance of the snakes</h2>Snakes have a long, thin body. The body shape differs depending on the snake species. There are stocky looking snakes (thick body, short tail) and more elongated snakes that become thinner towards the back. The belly is almost always flattened. There are also considerable differences in the size of snakes. These range from ca. 10 cm for the slender blind snake to almost 10 m for the reticulated python. Snakes do not have eyelids. Can therefore not blink. The eyes of the snakes are completely covered by a transparent scale. The rostral shield of the snakes has a small notch at the lower edge. This allows snakes to tongue without opening their mouths.</p><p><h2>Nutrition of snakes</h2>Snakes feed on live or freshly killed animals. The size of the prey depends of course on the size of the snake. Small snakes mostly eat insects. Medium snakes eat rodents, lizards or frogs, but some also eat eggs, birds or other snakes. Large snakes prey on animals ranging from rabbit-sized mammals to wild boar or deer. Smaller animals are sometimes eaten alive, larger animals are killed before feeding. Snakes can strongly stretch their skull. This allows them to devour large prey animals.</p><p>When hunting prey there are 2 methods of the snakes. Venomous snakes inject their prey with a poison and then release it. Then they follow the scent trail of the prey. This usually succumbs to the poison after a short time and dies. Now the snake can eat its prey.</p><p>The 2. method is that of the strangler snakes. Strangler snakes grab their prey and do not let it go, because otherwise it would be gone again. They entwine their victim and tighten the noose further with each exhalation until the victim loses consciousness. The snake still holds it until the heart stops beating. Now the snake can start devouring.</p><p>Snakes always swallow their prey head first.</p><p><h1>Terrarium for corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus)</h1>Corn snakes are very undemanding in the attitude, but you should still offer them an appropriately large terrarium. The terrarium should grow with the snake. It does not bring much, if you put a small corn snake immediately into the final terrarium.</p><p>The final terrarium for a corn snake should be at least 120 cm x 60 cm x 120 cm (LxWxH). On the one hand it is very difficult to find such a small worm in the big box, on the other hand unnecessary heating costs arise. For a young animal of 40 cm length a terrarium of the size 80 cm x 40 cm x 40 cm (LxWxH) is sufficient (see picture).</p><p>Such small terrariums can be built from glass, while for the final terrarium it is better to use wood. OSB - boards have proved to be very useful. A wooden terrarium insulates much better than glass. You can save a lot of heating costs. In the glass terrarium should be provided 2 ventilation openings. One should be in front below. The other one in the back should be on top. Thus a good air exchange is ensured.</p><p>The ground consists of pieces of bark, in which the corn snake can also hide sometimes. But you can also use terrarium soil or offer different soil grounds in the terrarium. One corner should always be humid, the rest dry. The humidity should be between 50% and 70%. This is achieved by the partial humidity of the substrate or by regular spraying.</p><p>You can plant the terrarium with artificial or natural plants. Artificial plants have the advantage that they need absolutely no care. Natural plants require a little more care. But they have the great advantage that they do not let the humidity drop so quickly. In addition, the terrarium does not always look the same due to the growth of the plants.</p><p>I prefer natural plants, even if they make a little more work. Another possibility to raise the humidity is a wetbox. This is a hiding place or container with moisture retaining substrate, for example moss. I have a flowerpot with seramis, which is always moist. In the flower pot is planted a plant, which grows excellently, see here.</p><p><h2>Heating and lighting of the terrarium</h2>The temperatures in the terrarium of a corn snake should be between 24 and 30° C during the day (sunny place also up to 32° C), at night about 20° C. During the day</p><p>Halogen lamp with protection cage (click on the picture to enlarge)</p><p>there should be a temperature gradient. I achieve this by mounting a halogen radiator decentralized on the ceiling. With larger terrariums one must work then with several emitters.</p><p>The strength and number of the emitters must be tested first in the unoccupied terrarium. In the above described terrarium 80cm x 40 cm x 40 cm a 35 W radiator is sufficient, in summer a 20 W radiator. Thus, on the floor directly under the radiator it is 32 ° C, at the farthest point from the radiator it is 24 ° C warm. So the corn snake can choose the temperature it likes.</p><p>The hiding places are also distributed in different temperature zones. The halogen spotlight also serves to illuminate the terrarium at the same time. If the plants do not grow with it, one can tinker on the terrarium still another small fluorescent lamp. From various heating mats under the terrarium I think nothing at all. In nature the heat comes also only from above.</p><p>When using halogen radiators or other hot heat sources, a cover must be provided. Otherwise it can happen that the corn snake wraps itself around the radiator at night and does not notice soon enough after switching on that the thing becomes hot. There she can get severe burns. The mesh size of the cage must be small enough to prevent the corn snake from crawling in, otherwise the cage can become a death trap.</p><p><h2>Furnishing of the terrarium</h2>A water bowl should not be missing in any terrarium. This can also be somewhat larger, so that the corn snake can also bathe in it sometimes. The water must be changed regularly. Further should be offered different hiding places in different heat zones. Especially young corn snakes lie in a hiding place almost the whole day and come out only in the evening.</p><p>Since the corn snake is a climbing snake, it needs various possibilities to climb. This can be branches or roots, but also an appropriately designed back wall accommodates the climbing strand of the corn snake. However, one should pay attention to the fact that no sharp edges arise. Also, the branches and roots should be firm, so that a falling branch can not trap the corn snake.</p><p>An appropriately designed back wall not only has a visual appeal. Especially with glass terrariums back walls work. Side walls made of styrofoam very heat insulating. Styrofoam can be worked on excellently. For the back and side walls I used 2 cm thick styrofoam plates. On top I glued with hot glue lying surfaces made of styrofoam. Afterwards the whole thing was shaped a bit with a soldering iron and a hot air gun, so that it does not look so smooth and unnatural.</p><p>Finally, coat the walls with tile glue 2 - 3 times. At the last painting you can add some tinting paste of your choice, so that the whole thing gets a natural color. You can also sprinkle sand on the still wet tile adhesive, which then sticks to it. After installing the walls, the cracks are still filled with silicone (also available in some colors).</p><p>A thermometer and a hygrometer should also not be missing in any terrarium. However, the cheap devices are often not very accurate. If given the opportunity, use a good instrument to measure humidity and temperature.The terrarium has to be cleaned 2 times a year. To do this, one takes out the furnishings. Clean them with boiling water. The substrate is changed completely. The droppings have to be removed regularly.</p><p>Another word about escape protection. Corn snakes are true escape artists. They find every gap to escape. Where the head fits through, the whole snake also fits through. If sliding panes are used, which run in profiles, the gap between the panes is sufficient even for smaller corn snakes to escape. I have glued an aluminum profile to a pane, so that only a minimal gap remains. Falling discs are safer (they are pulled out upwards to open them). However, they have the disadvantage that they have to be pulled out completely when handling in the terrarium, because otherwise they will pop down again.</p><p><h1>The corn snake in general</h1><strong>Corn snakes</strong> (Pantherophis guttatus) belong to the non-poisonous snakes. The corn snake kills its prey by strangling it. With a body length of 1.20 - 1.40 m, the corn snake belongs to the smaller strangler snakes. But also specimens of 1,80 m length were already held. Females usually grow slightly larger than the males. The diameter of the body is 3 - 4 cm.</p><p>Freshly hatched corn snakes are ca. 28 cm long and have a body diameter of only a few millimeters. The weight varies depending on the season and nutritional status. Young, sexually mature animals weigh ca. 200 g, while old, well-fed corn snakes can weigh up to 800 g.</p><p>Because of its calm nature and diverse color varieties, as well as its relatively undemanding husbandry requirements, the corn snake has become a popular companion animal. Corn snakes are crepuscular resp. nocturnal. During the day, they usually sleep in their hiding place. They come out at dusk. Going on an exploratory tour. they like to climb over branches and plants in the terrarium.</p><p>Therefore the terrarium should be equipped with many climbing possibilities. With increasing age, however, corn snakes can also be seen sunbathing more often during the day. Corn snakes have no protection status, that means they can be kept and bred without permission of an authority.</p><p>The physique of the corn snake can be described as slender, the head is only slightly set off. The large, round pupil of the eyes is enclosed by a brown iris ring. The belly scales are sharply bent upwards at their lateral edges. This enables the corn snake to climb safely.</p><p>Corn snakes eat live prey, but also frozen prey, which of course has to be thawed, is usually accepted without problems. As terrarium animals corn snakes eat mice or small rats depending on the size of the snake. To the food spectrum in the nature still belong lizards, small rabbits, bats and chicks.</p><p>Frozen food is available in many pet shops, while you should get live prey from a breeder or you can breed them yourself. So you know at least that the food animal is also healthy. Even a feeder animal wants to have an animal-friendly life. I also breed my own feed animals, see here.</p><p><h2>Natural range</h2>To satisfy the needs of corn snakes in a terrarium as good as possible, you first have to know under which conditions the corn snakes live in their natural habitats. The advantage of the corn snake, which makes it so suitable for problem-free terrarium keeping, is the adaptability of the animals.</p><p>In contrast to many specialists, which colonize only certain habitats, the corn snakes colonize completely different biotopes. This ranges from swamps and springs to dry deciduous forests or rocky hill country to sandy and dry pine forests. But also near human settlements the corn snake can be found. Here an abundant food supply as well as suitable hibernation quarters lure.</p><p>Its distribution area is the southeastern United States, including relict populations in New Jersey, Delaware, southern Pennsylvania and Maryland, northeastern West Virginia, and Virginia. They are often found in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Parts of Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana are also part of the distribution area, as well as some islands off the Atlantic coast and on the Gulf coast in the north of Florida.</p><p>If you look at this huge distribution area, you can see that the different populations have to cope with many different climates. This ranges from the temperate and cold winter climate of New Jersey and Delaware to the subtropical regions of Florida. While corn snakes are often active year-round in warm climates, they go into hibernation in colder climates. In this context, corn snakes spend the cold season in rodent burrows, rock crevices or caves.</p><p>As enemies, the corn snake has to fear in nature various snakes, lizards, foxes, cats, skunks, opoms and various bird species.</p><p>If you feel like watching some animal videos (also in HD), you can have a look at my Youtubekanal. At the moment I am still uploading, but there are more and more every day.</p>

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