When it comes to snake ownership, there's a few different kinds of snakes that really stand out as the popular choices. Of those are ball pythons, boa constrictors, and, of course, corn snakes. Corn snakes have become extremely popular in the reptile scene due to their friendly temperament, stunning visual appearance, and very manageable size. While it's clear that these snakes make great pets, quite a few questions may arise when thinking about owning one. Specifically, how much does a corn snake actually cost?
We've calculated that the initial cost of corn snake ownership tends to be between $375 - $1150 for the first year, with each additional year costing between $160 - $395.
Corn Snake Cost Breakdown
When you calculate the total cost of a corn snake, quite a few different factors need to be taken into account and considered. In addition to the corn snake itself, a variety of supplies needs to be purchased. The snake enclosure, food, substrate, and medical care are all aspects of snake ownership that cost money. In the table below, we've broken down these supplies into concrete costs.
In the "Initial Cost" column, the costs that you'll incur during the first year of ownership are laid out. This includes one-time purchases that need to be made before getting your corn snake. Then, the "Yearly Cost" column quantifies the costs that you'll experience every additional year of ownership -- essentially the consumables. Clicking on the name of the product or service will take you directly to that section for more information.
Product / Service
$25 - $200
$75 - $300
$10 - $30
$0 - $30
$30 - $100
$10 - $20
$5 - $15
$100 - $200
$100 - $200
$50 - $75
$50 - $75
$10 - $20
$10 - $20
$0 - $50
$0 - $50
$0 - $50
$0 - $50
$375 - $1150
$160 - $395
Purchasing The Corn Snake Itself
While corn snakes seem exotic and pricey, they're actually extremely affordable and a very small percentage of the total cost of corn snake ownership. While some corn snake morphs are certainly cheaper than others, even the most expensive morphs won't cost you too much (with some exceptions of course). The exact price that you pay really depends on the rarity of the morph and the age and sex of the corn snake.
The average price that you can expect to pay for a corn snake is around $50. For a normal morph corn snake, that price drops to just about $25 to $30. The more interesting morphs cause a slight price increase to around $40 or $50, with some of the more popular morphs running around $80.
Once you get towards $100, though, prices tend to be all over the place. Some of the more uncommon morphs, especially those that are a combination of multiple morphs that result in a brilliant-looking corn snake, easily exceed $100. For example, a Tessera Corn Snake costs around $250, while a Baby Blood Red Scaleless Corn Snake can reach $500.
Some of the big brand name pet stores sell normal morph corn snakes for relatively cheap. However, the health of these creatures is questionable, and it's no secret that they don't practice good animal husbandry. Therefore, it's recommended that you spend a little bit more money to purchase a healthy corn snake from a reputable breeder.
Corn Snake Enclosure & Accessories
Corn snakes, just like mostly every other living creature, can't just be thrown into an empty tank and be expected to survive and thrive. These snakes have specific environmental needs that need to be met through their enclosure in order for them to stay happy and healthy. In fact, the main objective is to create an enclosure that's as close to a corn snake's natural habitat as possible.
Through the process of putting together this optimal enclosure, quite a few different costs will come up. Fortunately, many of these costs are one-time purchases, meaning that they only need to be purchased once during the initial setup of your corn snake's enclosure.
The tank itself that the corn snake will be kept in is very important. If the enclosure is too small or made of low-quality materials, it can cause a lot of harm to your snake and may even result in death. Therefore, it's especially important that you don't skimp on this aspect of your corn snake's setup.
The size of your corn snake's enclosure will be the determining factor in the price. The minimum recommended size for a corn snake is a 20 gallon tank, which typically runs between $75 and $100. If you want to invest in a larger enclosure, especially if you're housing multiple corn snakes together, 40 gallon tanks can cost upwards of $300. While it's possible to provide too big of an enclosure, it's better to overestimate size than underestimate.
On top of the tank itself, you'll also need to purchase a wire mesh screen for the top, in addition to clips to hold the screen in place. This will prevent the corn snake from escaping, but will allow for great breathability which is very important.
Snakes are cold-blooded creatures, meaning that they don't possess the ability to produce their own body heat. Because of this, it's essential that you put in the necessary effort to keep your corn snake's enclosure properly heated. Proper heating can be achieved through several different means, so it's up to you to determine what would work best for your setup.
The most common methods of enclosure heating are heat lamps (with appropriate bulbs) and heat mats. Both of these can provide good sources of heat for a part of a snake's enclosure. It should be noted that a snake's enclosure should only have one side of it heated so that the snake can regulate its own body temperature. The great thing about heat mats and lamps is that they can be situated in a way where they only heat a portion of the enclosure.
Another method of heating is a space heater, and this is useful for people that live in colder climates. There are times when spot heating doesn't cut it, and the entire room that the corn snake is kept in needs to be heated. This is where a space heater comes into play.
Heat mats and heat lamps are relatively cheap, typically costing between $15 and $20. Space heaters are a bit more costly, but will still only run you about $40 to $50.
This is the only optional thing highlighted in this cost guide, and most owners tend to not use it. While many people think that snakes need lights on them at all times, that's actually not true. Like humans, snakes have sleep cycles that are determined by the daylight and lack thereof. Because of this, if your corn snake is located near a window that gets a lot of natural light, then they won't need supplemental lighting.
However, if you're keeping your snakes in a back room or some place away from natural light, artificial lighting should be used to simulate day and nighttime. Fortunately, it's not cheap to provide supplemental lighting for a corn snake enclosure. You can purchase a UVB bulb for around $20, and it will last for a very long time.
Rocks & Other Decor
Adding accessories and pieces of decoration into your corn snake's enclosure is a great way to transform it into a corn snake paradise. Not only will this make the enclosure look a lot more natural, but it will help to provide your corn snake with a diverse environment that they can explore and climb on. This is where you're able to get creative, as you don't need to purchase products that are specifically marketed for snake enclosures.
The three main types of decorations that people use in their snake enclosures are wood, rocks, and plants. Any combination of these accessories, in addition to the hides that will be discussed a little further down the page, will definitely take your corn snake's enclosure to another level.
You shouldn't expect to spend more than $100 to fully decorate your corn snake's enclosure. In many cases, an excellent enclosure is able to be constructed for around $50.
Thermometer / Hygrometer
If you've kept snakes or other reptiles, you know just how important it is to make sure that their environmental conditions are kept at optimal levels. The temperature and humidity of a corn snake's enclosure needs to be kept consistent and within a healthy range for that snake. If these environmental conditions are off, it could result in some serious negative health effects that could severely harm your corn snake.
Fortunately, it's cheap and easy to keep a watchful eye on these factors. A simple tool that's a combination of a hygrometer and thermometer can monitor the temperature and humidity levels within the enclosure. Such a helpful tool is available for between $10 and $20, which is one of the best investments that you can make.
Corn snakes thrive in humidity levels between 40% and 50% and a temperature gradient between 75°F and 82°F. After only a short while, it isn't difficult at all to maintain these temperatures.
Like all living creatures, corn snakes need to drink. It's very important that they have constant access to clean, fresh water that they can drink. While they get a good portion of their water through their food, they still need a supplemental water source. This is where a water bowl comes into play.
Most owners like to take a more natural-looking approach to the water bowl, opting for a rock dish that holds a good amount of water but doesn't take up too much space. While these water bowls tend to only cost around $10, they need to be cleaned and refilled multiple times per week. Uncleaned water bowls can harbor bacteria and may make your corn snake sick.
Corn snakes require things called hides in order to feel safe and comfortable within their enclosure. While the different accessories within a corn snake enclosure offer places to hide, they aren't as effective as dedicated hides. The general consensus for the "perfect" corn snake enclosure is that there should be two hides, one being a dry hide and the other being a humid hide. This is optimal because it gives the corn snake an option of where to hide.
Dry hides are simply small, clean areas that corn snakes can crawl into and, well, hide. It doesn't have to look a certain way, so that gives you a good amount of creative freedom. You can either purchase a dedicated snake hide, or you can take a DIY approach and build one out of rocks. Some owners even use plant pots!
Regardless of if you build a hide or purchase one, you shouldn't expect to pay more than $30.
Humid hides serve a very similar purpose to dry hides, with the only different being that they're kept damp and humid. The extra humidity can be comfortable for corn snakes, and it's especially helpful when they're starting to go through a shed. When you see the first signs of a shed, it's a good idea to provide your corn snake with a humid hide.
Like dry hides, humid hides can either be purchased or built. Many corn snake owners will opt to use a small tupperware container filled with damp moss to provide a great environment. However, there's also some great humid hides that are available to purchase. Just be sure to change out the moss every once in a while so that it doesn't start to rot!
Corn Snake Consumables
Consumable products are the source of costs that you'll incur with every year of corn snake ownership. These are items that are either literally consumed or go bad over time. It's recommended that you get the highest quality variants of these products as possible, as they all serve very important purposes within a corn snake enclosure! Constant access to low quality supplies can have quite a few negative health effects.
Corn snakes are carnivores, meaning that their diet consists entirely of meat! They have been eating rodents for millions of years, so their bodies have become fine-tuned for digesting that food and turning it into energy. Therefore, it's your job to help that trend live on and feed your corn snake a constant supply of rodents.
Even in their small juvenile stage, corn snakes gladly devour mice and rats. Smaller mice only tend to cost around $1 and are suitable for smaller corn snakes. Once they reach adulthood, though, you should supply them with larger mice or smaller rats at the price point of about $2.
So, feeding a young corn snake twice a week will only cost $2, while an adult corn snake costs just $4 a week to feed. It's also possible to catch mice and rats around your property if you're in a rural area and feed them to your corn snake to save money. For such interesting creatures, they're definitely cheap to feed!
Substrate is the material that's placed at the bottom of a corn snake's enclosure. This substrate has a few different benefits, from making for a much more comfortable and natural floor to absorbing waste and controlling bad odors. There are several different kinds of substrate available, and all of them have their own benefits that they bring.
No matter the substrate that you choose, make sure that it possesses excellent moisture-retention properties, doesn't mold quickly, and is made of safe and comfortable fibers. Most corn snake owners opt to use a coconut fiber substrate to meet these needs, and it does so excellently.
A high-quality substrate that's entirely changed out about once every two months will only cost about $50 to $80 yearly. If you want to help prolong the lifespan of the substrate, you can spot-clean any waste that your corn snake produces.
Sphagnum moss is a commonly-used accessory in corn snake enclosures due to its great utility. It's a moss that works to retain a large amount of moisture without breaking down or rotting, making it great for humidity control. This moss will be placed within your corn snake's humid hide and sprinkled around their enclosure.
Sphagnum moss will only need to be replaced once it starts to break down, which isn't very frequent. Because of this, it makes up a very small portion of your overall corn snake care costs.
Corn Snake Medical Care
Like all living things, corn snakes run the risk of encountering health problems throughout the course of their lives. Even if you're the most attentive owner possible, some health issues are just impossible to avoid. Because of this, you should stay very alert and attentive when it comes to your corn snake so that you can catch problems before they become too serious.
While there isn't a very high chance that your corn snake will run into health problems, the possibility still exists.
Parasite / Disease Meds
Parasites, mites, and other random diseases are not very common in corn snakes, but they do happen every once in a while. If you're cautious about what you introduce into your corn snake's enclosure, you should be able to avoid these problems entirely. However, these ailments can come about from random sources. Mites can ride along on a bad batch of bedding, and diseases can pop up out of nowhere.
Fortunately, it isn't difficult nor expensive to deal with most of these problems in corn snakes, so this likely won't make up much of your ownership costs. The most expensive part will be visiting the reptile specialist to have the ailment diagnosed and a treatment prescribed.
Random Medical Needs
Once again, like all living things, corn snakes are subject to quite a few different health problems that can randomly arise. In order to better understand what can occur, it's recommended that you give this guide on snake health an attentive read. You should be aware of the common problems that snakes can experience so that you can quickly identify them and have them dealt with.
Many of the problems can be cured with very simply, cheap remedies. However, some are incredibly costly and time consuming to deal with. The best thing that you can do is practice the best husbandry that you can to avoid as many problems as possible!
Are Corn Snakes Cheap Pets To Own?
All things considered, corn snakes are relatively cheap pets to own. While the initial costs of corn snake ownership may be high, that's simply because there's a good amount of supplies that are needed in order to keep them happy and healthy. However, the following years of ownership are extremely cheap due to there only being a few supplies that need to be purchased more than once.
Ongoing costs of corn snake ownership change very little throughout their lives. The main difference between baby corn snakes and adults is their food consumption and difference in size. Baby corn snakes can eat less food and live in smaller enclosures, thus bringing down their cost of ownership. They obviously grow up, though, and that's when you'll experience a higher cost of ownership.
So, while corn snakes may be a bit pricey to purchase and house initially, they're not expensive pets to maintain. Considering the fact that these snakes can easily live into their teens, the average cost of ownership over their lifespan is extremely low.