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REPTILE / new pets

Kingsnake, Milk Snake and Corn Snake Care Guide

Kingsnake, Milk Snake and Corn Snake Care GuideTips for home, health and fun


3 things to know about kingsnakes, milk snakes or corn snakes

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Size: Kingsnakes and corn snakes grow 40-60 (101-152 cm) inches long Milk snakes grow 18-60 (45-152 cm) inches long
  • Lifespan: They can live more than 20 years

How do I set up my kingsnake, milk snake or corn snake's habitat?

Corn snakes can live with other corn snakes. Kingsnakes and milk snakes must be housed alone. One fully-grown snake will need a terrarium of at least 20 gallons, and possibly much larger, with a screened lid. Multiple snakes will require more space.

  • Line the bottom of the terrarium with 2 inches of aspen reptile bedding.
  • Remove the waste frequently and treat your snake to fresh bedding once per month.
  • Provide a wide, shallow water dish for your snake to soak in.
  • Stock the tank with branches for hiding and climbing.
  • Add a rock or wood hiding place on the side of the terrarium that will be the cool side.
  • Make sure nothing in the terrarium will wobble or topple if your pet slithers over it.
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Heat & light

  • Kingsnakes, corn snakes and milk snakes require a temperate habitat.
  • Your snake's terrarium should have a warm side and a cool side. By day, keep the warm side between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (27 to 29 Celsius) and the cool side between 70 and 75 F (21 to 24 C). At night, the whole terrarium should be 65 to 70 F (18 to 21 C).
  • Use a heat bulb or ceramic heat emitter to keep the warm part of the tank at the correct temperature.
  • Monitor the temperature of the habitat with 2 thermometers, one on each side.
  • Habitat humidity should be between 30% and 50%. Use a hygrometer (a humidity gauge) to keep track.
  • Kingsnakes, corn snakes and milk snakes are nocturnal, but they need lighting that mimics day and night. Use a fluorescent bulb in the habitat to mimic daylight for 12 hours a day.
  • At night, switch to a night-specific bulb so you can watch your pet with minimum disturbance.
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What do kingsnakes, milk snakes and corn snakes eat?

  • Kingsnakes, milk snakes and corn snakes are carnivores; their diet consists primarily of rodents.
  • Feed your snake frozen mice or rats that have been thawed.
  • Offer your snake food weekly, although an adult snake may not feed for several weeks at a time.
  • Hold the rodent with tongs when offering it to your snake.
  • If you keep more than one snake in the same habitat, they may behave territorially while feeding. Reduce this behavior by feeding each snake in a separate habitat.
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How do I keep my kingsnake, milk snake or corn snake healthy?

Try not to handle new snakes for 3 or 4 days to give them a chance to get acclimated to their new surroundings. Whether your snake is new or settled-in, be sure to contact a vet if you notice any of these symptoms of illness or distress:

  • Avoidance of the basking area; more time spent hiding
  • Eating or drinking less; weight loss
  • Shedding problems; discolored skin
  • Discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth
  • Labored breathing


  • Use caution when handling pets and remember they may bite (especially when stressed).
  • Ensure complete body support when picking up your snake.
  • ALL ANIMALS can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
  • Adults should assist children with hand washing after contact with a pet, its habitat or aquarium water.


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Our vendors meet a high standard in caring for pets and screening them for common illnesses. This program also includes specific standards for in-store pet care.


If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you're not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.