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Adult Corn Snake Not Eating - How Often to Try Food?

Discussion in 'Corn Snakes' started by RTaylor, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. RTaylor

    RTaylor New Member

    Hello there,
    New poster to this site. I've had an adult corn snake for about a year and a half. I am fairly new to snakes though, although I'm experienced with other pets (non reptile). He's about 4 feet long, and usually eats quite well (frozen adult mice). He shed about 3 weeks ago and ate 3 adult mice about 2-3 days later. He normally eats about once a week - I feed him when he gets active/hungry, and I increased him to 3 mice at one feeding the feeding before he shed (he had been eating 2 mice twice a week). He ate those quite easily and quickly. About 5 days after he ate, he was very active around the cage, like he usually acts when he's hungry. Since he had eaten the mice so easily, the pet store where I get my frozen mice suggested a small rat (when I had moved him from fuzzies to mice, he was eating 3 fuzzies at a time). I was worried the rat was too big, but gave it a try. He seemed very interested and hungry, but didn't eat it. Thinking it was a size issue - I thawed some mice for him instead. Again he was active, interested and seeming hungry, but he wouldn't eat them.

    This was a week and half ago. I've since then tried feeding him 2 more times (mice), and again he seems very hungry and interested but after a few hours I take the mouse away. Yesterday I tried moving it around to encourage him to eat (I've never had to do that before), but that didn't seem to help at all.

    I've read from several sites that snakes sometimes go thru a fasting period, and one also suggested (to another poster) that not eating might be due to the start of breeding season. I'm fine with him fasting - he's very healthy looking overall and has a good weight.
    My big question - HOW do I know when he is done fasting and he's actively looking for food. Right now he's very active - like he is when he's hungry. How often should I be offering him food, or how long should I wait to see if his self-imposed 'fasting' is over?

    He's going on 2 weeks without eating - which I know is fine for them (he'll go about 3 weeks when he's shedding). I don't want to withhold food from him if he's hungry - but at the same time I don't want to keep putting food in front of him if he really doesn't want it.

    Thanks for all of your expert opinions,
  2. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Cornsnakes are not known for fasting the way some other species are.
    Give us a rundown on how you are housing it, and if possible include pictures of the set up as well as the snake.
    But since the last feeding was larger than usual, he may just not be hungry.
  3. AjaMichelle

    AjaMichelle Elite Member

    Can you include a detailed description of the snake's enclosure including basking (surface) and ambient temperatures, what you're using to measure the temperatures (infrared temp gun, digital probes, analogue- stick on- temperature gauges, etc.), size of the enclosure (LxWxD) and what it's made out of (glass with screen top, etc.), what your relative humidity is, when he pooped last, etc.

    A wintering period or seasonal anorexia can be perpetuated by reduction in ambient and surface temps, and these changes can occur when the temperatures in your home decrease, so check and re check! It's a process of elimination. :)
  4. AjaMichelle

    AjaMichelle Elite Member

    Looks like we were posting at the same time Merlin! :)
  5. RTaylor

    RTaylor New Member

    Ok, some answers here...

    Cage size - 24"H x 24"D x 35"L, all glass with screen/glass top, on wood chip substrate with climbing surfaces, heat support on one end (large heat mat on outside of cage plus heat lamp overhead).

    I teach high school, and the cage is in my classroom. I don't have humidity guage in the tank, room humidity is around 30% usually though. Temperature is around 70 degrees during the day, I'm not sure how low it drops at night, but the room temperature drops to about 65 at night. I have about 3 sides covered with a blanket to help hold in heat in the winter. I have a hard time getting the temperature higher than that, especially during the winter, since I can't keep my room much warmer than it already is (I already leave the heat on all night set at 65 - which I'm not really supposed to do, LOL). He seems to be pretty active during the day though, and feels fairly warm by the end of the day.

    Eating: He last ate 17 days ago, shed 20 days ago. Last defication was about 15 days ago (I can't remember exactly when, it was a few days after eating). Started acting hungry/very active 13 days ago (a Friday), I offered food the following Monday - 10 days ago, and that started his "acting very hungry but not eating" phase. I've offered him food 3 times now in the past week and a half, with no eating.

    So again, I understand if he doesn't want to eat, I'm just not sure how long to wait before offering him a mouse again. :)

    Hope the pictures turned out ok. The one with him is in his warm corner - the heat pad on the outside of the tank there. I can't put it under the tank since there is a foam mat that the tank sits on - it seemed like a bad idea to have the mat directly on the foam.

    Thanks again for the help. I don't want to ask a pet store employee about these things, they don't really know as much (usually).

    Attached Files:

  6. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    Sounds like a temperature issue! How are you heating, Under Tank Heater, heat bulb!
    Is there any way to remove the foam on the bottom, so you can use an under tank heater! I use ceramic tiles under my tank to protect my furniture and I also use those little rubber feet that come with UTH to allow air flow.
    Your basking temps ( hot side of the enclosure ) should be 87-90 degrees
    and the cool side should be 72-75 degrees!
    Corn Snake Caresheet (Pantherophis guttatus)
  7. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Humidity is not much of an issue with corns. The are pretty flexable.
    I suspect the temperature is your culprit. 70 is too low. That is the bare lowest temperature allowed in the coolest part of the tank but would be better at 75ish. The snake needs a basking spot of 87-90 degrees in order to digest food. Lacking that they don't eat because the undigested food would lay in thier stomach and rot. Raise your temperatures and I will bet you the snake will feed.
    The heat pad on the side of the tank is not really going to do much. The point of the heater being on the bottom of the tank is to proide a hot spot for the snake to use to thermoregulate.
  8. RTaylor

    RTaylor New Member

    I can try a few more things. The little feet that come with the heat pads won't work - the tank is too big. Part of the reason for the pad is to support the glass, so I was hesitant to cut the pad. The person who gave me the tank told me he put the heat pad on the side, but he was using the tank in his house (warmer overall heat). I had a heat bulb too, but I was having problems with the bulb blowing quickly (after a few weeks), and stopped replacing it (I'd need to replace the whole fixture now). The heat lamp kicks out A LOT of heat, but it is 2 feet above him.

    He's had this heating situation since I got him over a year ago, and never seemed to have an eating problem before. That was one of the first things I thought of. Also, I usually move him to a 10 gallon tank to feed him, this one does have the heat pad below the tank. He's used to moving and usually doesn't seem to have an issue with it (doesn't get stressed).

    I can't think of anything different or new over the past month, that might cause this change - other than trying to feed him a rat and deciding it was too big after he had been in with it for a few hours.

    So yes, I know he needs more overall heat - but he seemed to be doing just fine since I got him, so I kinda let that problem slide - since I was stumped for ideas (other than heat rocks inside the cage - but I'm cautious of those since they can cause burns on the snakes)...
  9. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Oh definately no heat rock! I wish they would take those darned things off of the market!
    It's possible that there has been a change in the ambient temperatures of the room and where it was a bit warmer before now its too cool.
    Thats why I went to cermic heat emitters in my tanks that needed more heat than a pad would provide. They are more expensive but last for years. And you will need a fixture with a ceramic socket. That should be with any heating element anyway.
    The CHE's also have the benefit of not producing any visible light, just heat so they could be left on at night.
    I really beleive your issue is heat related.
  10. mld

    mld Subscribed User Premium Member

    You can always use wooden blocks under each corner of the tank! Also making a wooden top will help hold more heat in.
    Merlin is right about sockets should be ceramic.
  11. Kernel

    Kernel Elite Member

    I only have one thing to add. That is a beautiful bloodred corn you have!
  12. RTaylor

    RTaylor New Member

    Ok, so it sounds like I need to get things warmer for him, regardless of whether this is causing the eating issue or not. I do have one of the ceramic heat lamps - I had forgotten what it was called until one of you mentioned it. :) It's the largest size available and it's on 24/7... but it's at the top of the cage, so it's about 2 feet from him unless he's up on the branch under it. It does make a difference, but not enough to get the tank up to 80 degrees.

    While I work on getting his basking area warmer - back to the feeding question - how often should I offer him a mouse though? Every 3 days? Wait a week before offering again? What do you all suggest.
  13. Merlin

    Merlin Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    Actually the largest size CHE available (250 watt) would cook a snake in that size of cage. I use a 150 watt for a 55 gallon python tank.
    As for the feeding question I would try again in a week, but only after I got the temperatures stable.
  14. Kernel

    Kernel Elite Member

    Weekly feedings, but as Merlin said "only after you get the temperatures stable"
  15. Wyldrose

    Wyldrose Elite Member

    I would love to see an up close picture of him :) Like Kernel said he looks like a bloodred, but it looks like he has red eyes, so maybe a sunglow or a fire?
    Once his temps are stable I am sure he will do well :)

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