Corn Snakes

Buying Corn Snakes

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Buying corn snakes is now surprisingly easy with hundreds of captive-bred specimens made available each year.

Firstly, when considering buying corn snakes there are literally dozens of places you could try.

You can try local reptile stores, local reptile clubs or your local newspaper may also have adverts in.

However, my experience is that when buying corn snakes these local papers often simply contain unwanted pets rather than contact information for knowledgeable breeders.

However buying corn snakes isn't just about finding a source of baby snakes.

No, there are other elements to consider such as how to you ensure you buy a healthy corn snake and how do you get it home safely?

So let's get going.

Firstly when buying corn snakes use your common sense. Are the surroundings nice, clean, organised? Or is the store or breeders home dirty and smelly?

Are the reptile cages present (not just the one containing the baby corn snake you're considering) nice and clean? Based on the information on keeping corn snakes gleaned from this site, our discussion forum and the free ebook all community members receive, do they look like they know what they're doing?

If all seems well, spend some time looking into the cage itself.

The baby corn snakes may be separated into individual small tubs, or they may all be living together happily in one larger cage.

Neither is necessarily better than the other. On one hand, those corn snakes kept in individual containers are easier to inspect and examine without having to get them out, and it's also easier for the supplier to keep a close eye on their food intake and keep detailed records of what was eaten when.

On the other hand, seeing a number of baby corn snakes together allows you to watch their behaviour - is the particular specimen that's taken your fancy shy and retiring or far more brave and domineering?

The perfect snake will be reasonably active and is paying lots of attention to it's surroundings.

It's best not to try and make a decision yet but highlight a few of the corn snakes for sale for closer inspection.

When buying corn snakes I always recommend the buyer handles and inspects a number of corn snakes before actually one one or more.

This tends to have two benefits. Firstly, with a little knowledge, you can greatly increase your chances of choosing a fit, healthy individual with whom you'll have no major problems in the future. If this is your first snake this is a particularly important aspect, and some suppliers now even offer a "guarantee" of health for some days or weeks after purchase. So it's worth checking this out too. Ask the question - what should I do if my snake looks ill?

Do they tell you it won't? Do they suggest you take it to a vets (a very good suggestion). Do they offer a guarantee? Do they volunteer to help you if you have a problem?

The second benefit of a physical examination when buying corn snakes is that it actually makes you look like more of a professional.

I always inspect all animals before buying and you'd be surprised the number of people who look on admiringly - you clearly have more knowledge than the average buyer and really care about your pets.

And breeders like me love selling to people like that - people with whom our livestock has a fantastic chance of a long and healthy life.

Corn snakes are surprisingly resilient and so for short journeys of up to a few hours no food or water will be necessary, but what is important is temperature, preventing escape and preventing physical damage to your corn snake.

Temperature is important because even when travelling home from buying corn snakes you need to try and ensure they don't get too warm or cold.

In summer, just take the journey a little at a time, ensuring the windows are open (or aircon on) as this ventilation will help keep the temperature down, ensure the container that your new corn snake is in is shaded from direct sunlight, and regularly stop to take the corn snakes container out of the car and put it in the shade for a few minutes to cool down even further.

In winter, heating cushions can be used that give out gentle heat over a few hours to keep your corn snake toasty on it's journey home, and some mail order suppliers will even insert them into the box before shipping you your corn snake if you ask.

Another simple way to help your snake stay warm is to warm the container up before you leave by asking if you can put it on the suppliers heater for a few minutes before leaving, then wrap the container gently in blankets and / or coats before setting off.

And don't forget that a smaller container will keep the warmth in better than a large container.

In terms of what to actually put your snake in to transport it, there are two standard ways.

You may choose to use a nylon or cloth bag into which the snake is placed, then the neck is sealed with an elastic band.

This method works well and is breathable, but you need to be certain that your snake won't come to any damage is this bag. The last thing you want is to break suddenly at a junction and have your wife's handbag land on the snake at speed.

The other option is to use a clear plastic container, with holes made in it for ventilation (such as by using a soldering iron).

Whilst these plastic containers heat up more quickly in the summer, they also prevent any physical damage happening to your corn snake in transit.

The choice is yours but when buying corn snakes I tend to use the plastic container method, ensuring the lid is on firmly, then put it in a paper bag to shade the snake (even in winter a darker tub will keep your snake calmer) and give it to one of the passengers in the car who can carefully hold it till we arrive home.

In transit, some kitchen towel, toilet roll or newspaper can be used as a base substrate, ensuring some of it is torn or screwed up enough so you corn snake can crawl under it during the journey to feel extra safe.