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How Can I Tell Whether My Corn Snake Is Over- Or Underweight?

Maybe you’ve got a pet corn snake that you feed when it shows hunting behavior. Or maybe, you’ve just been winging it and going on a prayer, feeding your pet when and how you saw fit.

Lately, however, you’ve noticed something which has put your mind ill-at-ease, and you’re beginning to worry that all’s not well in your vivarium.

Signs abound that something’s not kosher, so here you are, reading this article, trying to figure out whether or not you’re over-or underfeeding your pet corn snake.

Fear not! You’ll be a dab hand at looking after your corn snake after reading this text.


How can I tell whether my corn snake is over-or underweight?

If a corn snake is round, then it’s overweight. An underweight snake will take on a ‘triangular’ shape. In some extreme cases, the snake’s spine will show through its back, but this is not a reliable method as there are other reasons for visible spines.


Can I See A Corn Snake’s Skin Beneath Its Scales

Some (sketchy) Internet advice tells you that your snake must be overweight if you can see its skin beneath its scales. Nonsense!

Snakes sometimes swallow big meals. When they do, they bulge, and when they bulge, you can see the skin under their scales.

This doesn’t mean that they’re overweight. It simply means that, like us, snakes can be gluttons too.

However, if you haven’t recently fed your snake a monster meal and its skin is visible between its scales, then yes, your snake is overweight.


What Shape Is Your Snake In

No, I mean really. What shape is your snake?

If your snake is round, then it is overweight. If your snake is triangular, then it is underweight.

If your snake is semi-circular, then it is at a perfectly healthy weight.

There. You just got the lowdown on how to tell if your corn snake is over-or underweight.

Tip: Stretched-out skin can be a sign of dehydration, especially if accompanied by sunken eyes, flaky and dry skin, and constipation.

Hopefully, you’re not letting your snake get that dehydrated!

One last word on the shape of your snake.

Overweight snakes also have another tell-tale sign: they get rolls of fat that show up as creases when coiled up. This creasing may be accompanied by misshapen scales.


Keeping Your Pet Corn Snake’s Weight Healthy

Three factors determine the healthiness of the diet you feed your snake: what, how much, and how often.


What to Feed your Corn Snake

Corn snakes are carnivorous (“gimme meat, the whole meat, and nothing but the meat,” they whisper).

Corn snake owners have mostly settled on a diet of thawed-out frozen rats or mice. There are few healthy alternatives for your captivity-kept snake.

If handling dead rodents makes you feel icky, then perhaps you should think of owning another kind of pet.

Tip: Make absolutely sure that the rats and mice you’re feeding the snake are fully thawed!

Snakes are cold-blooded creatures and can’t handle frozen foods as well we can.

Also, you may be able to interest your snake in its meal by wriggling the meal around by its tail. Use a pair of tongs or some long-handled instrument.

You don’t need several razor-sharp reptilian teeth taking advantage of your naked fingers.

Lastly, defrosted or live, do not leave your pet with its food unattended for a long time. Uneaten defrosted rodents will decompose, and if your pet eats it then, you may be in for a short and expensive trip to the vets’.

Suppose your pet doesn’t immediately kill live prey. In that case, these can get increasingly desperate and bold, and end up biting your pal, wound the snake, even causing infection and/or death.


How Much Prey to Feed your Corn Snake

Well-received studies determined that corn snakes should receive between 10% and 30% of their body weight in food per week.

There is some suggestion that fully grown snakes can receive more than 30% of their body weight, but I haven’t seen any firm figures.

What I will advise is that you should keep an eye on your pet and, using the round-is-bad ‘fatness standard’, moderate your snake’s diet accordingly.


How Often to Feed your Corn Snake

Adult corn snakes eat once every 12 to 14 days. Given that your snake will receive food regularly (see below), it is probably a good idea to schedule a meal every 12 days and get the snake exercising.

Tip: Set a strict feeding schedule for your snake.

In the wild, corn snakes will often feed when they can, and they are fully capable of stuffing themselves with food even when they shouldn’t.

The size of your corn snake should determine the size of rodents you feed it. Try measuring across your pet at its widest part and feed it rodents more-or-less that wide (or very slightly–just a smidgen–wider).

As your snake grows bigger, don’t forget to update the size of the prey you’re feeding it.

Tip: Treat your pet as an individual, not a clone.

Each snake is different, so be prepared to alter any part of my advice (except this one) to suit your snake’s needs.

If your snake is becoming underweight, feed it more often. If it is becoming overweight, feed it less often. Use your judgment, always.


Frequently Asked Questions about How to Tell Whether My Corn Snake Is Over- Or Underweight


Will my corn snake get lonely?

Corn snakes are antisocial animals. They won’t need a friend or get lonely – promise! In fact, make sure you keep only one snake in one enclosure.


How Big Will My Corn Snake Grow?

Corn snakes can grow between 4 and 5 1/2 feet. However, individual corn snakes may grow smaller or larger than that. Newly hatched corn snakes are somewhere between 8 and 12 inches in length, so the snake’s length when you first get it depends on its age, ranging from 8 inches to 5 1/2 feet.


Afterword: How Can I Tell Whether my Corn Snake is Over-or Underweight

Corn snakes are generally affable and easy to handle. However, as the man sings, “a hungry man makes an angry man”.

Substitute the word ‘snake’ for ‘man’, and you get the picture.

To keep your snake happy and healthy, feed it its recommended diet, keeping to a regular, well-planned schedule. Also, reading about how to breed corn snakes can help you take care of your beloved snake pet better.