In order to start breeding corn snakes keep an eye out for a few signs. Shedding of female Corn Snake will take place two weeks after they come out of brumation. This is called the post-brumation shed which shows that your female Corn Snake is ready to mate. Introduce your male Corn Snake into the female Corn Snake terrarium. If the female is receptive, mating behavior will start immediately and the male Corn Snake will mate with the female one very soon. Mating can last for a few minutes to a few hours.
Be sure to separate the two Corn Snake after they finished mating because they can be cannibalistic. To increase the chance of fertile eggs, allow your Corn Snakes to mate more than once.
You can start breeding your corn snake when it turns a year old, but it would be better to wait until they are 2 or 3 years old before you start. To ensure successful reproduction, your snake may need to cool down or hibernate depending on the geographic origin.
Keep the vivarium at 50 to 68 degrees for 8-12 weeks without food to induce mating behavior once you return it at the normal temperature.
Make sure to keep groups of male and female snakes apart during the year and bring them together for breeding for mating success. Single male-female pairs are also productive.
Females would usually lay 8 to 26 eggs between March and June. Some may also lie again in late summer.
For a basic breeding group, it is recommended to purchase two male Corn Snake and four female Corn Snake, as unrelated as possible, unless there is a certain genetic trait that you want to isolate and work with. If they all grow to maturity, you will be having two trios. When the time comes that you need to sell or pick for future generations of breeders, you can mix from the two unrelated trios. If ever something happened to your first male, your second male can breed to all four females. On the other hand, if one female “goes down” you still are in production.
Make sure that the Corn Snake are sexed correctly. You can check it by yourself, or you can have the breeder confirm the sex and show you how. There is a usual mistake that a male is wrongly categorized as female because the hemipenes do not “pop” when checked. You can always double check with a probe. I guess you do not want to raise your snakes in a long period of time only to find out some females are males.
Checking for Sperm and Follicles
You can use a microscope to check for sperm. Take the seminal plug on a mount, add some saline solution if needed (solution used for contact lens also works), and put it under a microscope on shaded screen a 200 power. By then, you have to see a lot of sperm swimming. If not, you may want to use your second male.
Sometimes, it is preferred to use a Calci-Sand because you can see the seminal plug on the sand if your miss the actual mating. In that case, you can gently squeeze a little fluid from the mated female Corn Snake and have a sperm check. You can find a few live sperm up to a week after confirmed mating, but the sooner you test, the better.
Usually, when a female Corn Snake is ready to breed, you can touch and feel her follicles. You can gently indent your thumb up into their rib cage about mid-body, and just let the snake crawl over your thumb. In this way, you can feel bumps like soft marbles. These are the ones that are developed into eggs when fertilized.
Taking Care of a Pregnant Snake
Number one thing we need to do if we have a pregnant snake is that we should observe privacy. Snakes are very, very shy and in times like that, it’s a great idea to observe them from afar. Our pet Corn Snake will lay eggs so it’s very important that there will be an incubation area and a laying area which is very easy to do. You can use sphagnum moss, peat moss, vermiculite, and what they will just do is they will burrow down in the vermiculite. You have to take note that the substrate should stay moist but not wet. You’ll get hatchlings quicker at higher temperatures but you will also get more congenital defects. Those defects normally show up not only in immune problems, but in different patterns of color.
Raising Young Corn Snakes
Keep artificial incubation for baby corn snakes at 82 degrees and 60% humidity for an 80 to 100% hatch rate after 55 to 75 days. Upon hatching, the baby corn snakes will measure 20 to 28 centimeters and will eat pink mice after their first shed, within 3 to 7 days of hatching.
Caring for baby corn snakes is the same as for adults, but you must also pay close attention to keep them from escaping. You must also feed them smaller mice more frequently. Start with pink mice, then small fluffy mice. As the corn snake gets bigger, feed them larger mice until they can finally eat adult mice.
The success rate for breeding corn snakes is high, as it has resulted in self-sustaining captive populations in Europe and North America. Because of this, the cost of corn snakes has gone down. Of course, those with unique-colored variants are highly prized.