If you have gotten used to looking into your corn snake’s enclosure and finding your snake curled up in its same favorite spot, seeing a lot of activity can make you worry!
Why Is My Corn Snake So Active? Corn snakes are known to become more active for three reasons: unwell, seeking a mate, or uncomfortable. Gender can play a part in the mate-seeking activity, but hunger and discomfort can happen equally for male and female corn snakes.
Is My Corn Snake’s Activity Level Normal?
As Chattahoochee Nature Center points out, corn snakes in the wild are primarily nocturnal.
When an animal is said to be nocturnal, this means the animal moves about mainly after dusk. During the day is when a nocturnal snake will rest and sleep. Often this is a strategy to minimize exposure to daytime predators.
However, corn snakes in captivity may adjust their activity patterns based on seasonal light, availability of prey, habitat, and other factors.
Some Corn Snakes Are More Active Than Others
While this might seem strange if you are caring for a corn snake for the first time, some corn snakes can be naturally more active than others.
There are several reasons why one corn snake might be more active than another corn snake.
PetMD explains that corn snakes can live between five to 10 years and grow up to five feet long.
Corn snakes in the wild are both predators and prey. So it makes sense that very young hatchlings or juvenile corn snakes spend a lot of time hiding! Young corn snakes, mainly, are a favorite food for king snakes and coral snakes.
Senior corn snakes may also have a natural activity slowdown.
As we mentioned briefly here earlier, there may be times when gender influences a corn snake’s activity level.
Males often become more active as the daylight hours increase, which triggers their seasonal instincts to get out and search for a mate.
Conversely, once female corn snakes have mated and get close to laying, they may become much less active as they prepare to give birth.
Reptiles Magazine points out that female corn snakes will also shed before laying, which can further reduce activity levels.
3. Husbandry (care)
Improper lighting, temperature, humidity, substrate (bedding), food, habitat, and similar husbandry issues can increase or decrease activity levels for a corn snake of any age or gender.
For example, corn snakes need a dry and warm environment. Too much humidity or low temperatures can cause inactivity and illness in corn snakes.
In a wild setting, the survival of the fittest can typically weed out genetic issues to ensure the strongest corn snakes survive to pass along their genes.
In captive breeding programs, inexperienced breeders may inadvertently pass along genetic defects without realizing it. This is where choosing a corn snake breeder carefully can make a difference.
5 Key Care Tips for New Corn Snake Keepers
This helpful keeper video from an experienced corn snake keeper will give you five essential care tips to keep a corn snake healthy and happy in a captive setting.
3 Common Reasons Why Corn Snakes Become More Active
While many, many reasons can drive a corn snake to become more or less active in the wild or a pet setting, in most cases, those reasons can be placed into one of these three categories:
In the following sections, we will look more closely at each category and how it might increase or decrease your corn snake’s activity levels.
Reason #1: Your Corn Snake Gets More Active to Prepare to Breed
As we mentioned earlier, there can be times during each year when a mature corn snake will become more active to prepare to breed.
One fact most new corn snake owners do not realize, however, is that corn snakes mate for life!
VMSHerp breeder offers a typical annual timeline of corn snake breeding activity, taking you through the four seasons so you have a good general idea of what to expect.
You can see that April is usually when male corn snakes begin to get more active as the temperatures warm up and they have gone through their usual spring shed.
Females will shed later than the males – often just before they breed and grow their eggs.
Females will become less active as their eggs grow larger, do a lot of rest, and then go through another pre-laying shed in late May.
After this second shed, the female corn snakes become more active again because they must find a suitable nest for their eggs.
Once the eggs are laid, the female will rest next to her clutch until they are removed for incubation. In the wild, a corn snake will leave to feed shortly after laying and will not return.
Reason #2: Your Corn Snake Gets More Active Due to Discomfort or Illness
The second main reason your corn snake may suddenly start to get more active is discomfort or illness.
Simply put, a restless corn snake may be an uncomfortable, fearful, anxious, or unwell corn snake.
Here are some of the many common illnesses that can cause corn snakes discomfort, according to VCA Animal Hospital:
- Itchy or infected skin.
- Mouth rot.
- Internal or external parasites.
- IBD (inclusion body disease).
- Respiratory infection.
While many of these health conditions may cause lethargy, loss of appetite and listlessness, issues related to infection or itching may cause restless activity that appears to have no other apparent reason.
Reason #3: Your Corn Snake Gets More Active Because of Husbandry Issues
As you probably noticed when you watched the corn snake keeper video here earlier, it can take several years to start feeling truly confident about the care you give to your corn snake.
In the video, the keeper mentioned he has six years’ worth of experience under his belt and only now feels like he has mastered the basics of corn snake care.
So there will always be more to learn, much of which will occur in the husbandry department.
Husbandry is a fancy way of saying “care.” It means getting your corn snake’s captive habitat and environment to mimic what a wild corn snake would experience in their native territory.
Corn snakes will often become more active as temperatures warm up. Sometimes this is a seasonal shift prompted by increasing temperature and extended daylight hours. But it can also be brought on by uncomfortably warm temperatures in the habitat.
As the RSPCA-UK highlights, corn snakes require that the following care basics be met to stay comfortable and healthy in a pet setting:
– A habitat (vivarium or terrarium) that lets them fully stretch out, which means upgrades will be in order as your corn snake grows up.
– A temperature variance inside their habitat to allow them to adjust their body temperature (thermo-regulate) as needed – so one area should be warmer and the other area cooler.
– Full-spectrum UV (ultraviolet) lighting that mimics day/night light cycles plus a heat bulb at the “warm” end of the habitat for basking.
– Appropriate humidity of no more than 50 percent within the habitat and adequate ventilation to keep air circulating and fresh.
– Natural soil/sand substrate is kept clean and deep enough to permit burrowing and hiding.
– Plenty of enrichment in the form of hides for resting, natural branches and shelves for climbing, and plants and leaves to simulate a natural forest environment.
When your corn snake is kept in a size-appropriate natural habitat where each vital factor is in place, you are much less likely to see excessive activity because of discomfort or poor husbandry issues.
Other Reasons Your Corn Snake May Be Active More Than Normal
In addition to the three most common reasons for increased corn snake activity mentioned above, there can be additional triggers to prompt more movement.
Artificial seasonal shifts
In the wild, corn snakes are primarily found in warmer and more temperate southern states in the United States.
They are active beginning in April and can stay active through October or November, depending on their home territory. These are the “warm” months in most states and the times with longer daylight hours.
But if conditions inside their habitat or in your home are at odds with what is going on outside, you may see your corn snake becoming more active just at a time when wild corn snakes are preparing for brumation (reptile hibernation).
If this happens, husbandry adjustments can often nip the problem in the bud and help your corn snake self-regulate according to the natural seasons.
most active May through November in the wild
Nocturnal activity disruptions
Corn snakes are nocturnal, which means they are more active at night. But here again, it is pretty standard that new corn snake keepers may not know this.
It is easy to assume that your new pet snake will naturally keep the same schedule that you do, which means you may start to worry if your snake gets more active just as you are winding down for the night.
In the same way, if you keep the lights on brightly in your corn snake’s area during the day, your snake may not be able to rest according to its internal circadian rhythms (body clock).
Of course, you want to do your best to create a habitat as much as wild corn snakes would get. Here, lowering the lighting during the day will usually be enough to help your snake relax and adjust.
Stressed or provoked snake
Corn snakes in captivity are best kept to a habitat unless you have plans to breed your snake.
This helps you keep each habitat clean and well-maintained and guards against disease and illness transmitted from one snake to another.
Corn snakes are also solitary in the wild unless they seek a mate so a solitary habitat will be less stressful for your pet snake.
Keeping more than one corn snake in a habitat can also cut down the space each snake has to stretch out, feed, explore, rest, and move about. This can also cause a great deal of stress-based activity that is easily prevented.
While technically, shedding falls under the heading of health, shedding is not typically a sign of illness or stress in a corn snake.
Shedding is a normal process your corn snake needs to go through as they grow. Reptifiles explain that a young corn snake may shed as frequently as every four weeks during the rapid growth periods.
Before a shed, your corn snake may be lethargic. This is a protective act that signals you to let your snake rest. But your snake may also display defensive behaviors and become more aggressive.
Older corn snakes may shed up to four times yearly to maintain their outer defenses.
Now that you understand the main reasons corn snakes may suddenly become more active. Hopefully, you are much less worried about why your corn snake behaves differently from what you expect.
Corn snakes are among the most popular pet snakes and make wonderful pets. The more you learn about your corn snake’s habits and needs, the better care you can provide.