Decorating Your Corn Snake’s Terrarium

Terrarium decorations are more than just corn snake accessories to waste your money and/or make your pet’s space look prettier. While they can serve an aesthetic function, they also enhance a reptile’s quality of life by mimicking their natural environment and providing mental stimulation. The best zoos do this all the time — it’s called environmental enrichment. A common misconception is that reptiles are stupid creatures that don’t need “toys” or decorations beyond their keeper’s fancy — modern reptile husbandry experts are working to disprove this. Read more in this article: Environmental Enrichment For Reptiles ; What? Why? and How…?

Since corn snakes like to explore, don’t be afraid to get a little crazy as you decorate! 😉

Corn snake accessories - toilet paper rolls make good enrichment items

Paper tubes can make good enrichment items. Photo by Taylor Reich.

Heavy water dish

A water dish is about as functional as décor can get. Corn snakes thrive when they have access to a large water dish full of fresh water. Aside from drinking it, they like to soak every once in a while, especially before shedding. Select a heavy ceramic style so it doesn’t spill.

Hides

Corn snakes need at least 2 hides: one on the warm side, and another on the cool side. Even though they’re rather curious and active, they still need a dark, safe place to snooze during the day. You can also provide an additional humid hide on the warm side, packing with damp sphagnum moss to be used as needed.

Corn snake accessories - snake hide

Plants

Both live and artificial foliage can be used to enhance your corn snake’s terrarium, but unless you plan to go the bioactive route, I recommend using artificial plants. Fake plants are easier to clean and tend to withstand being climbed on better than their live counterparts.

If you choose to use live plants, buy them 2 weeks before you plan to use them so they can be purged of any fertilizers and pesticides:

  • Remove the plant from the pot
  • Rinse extra soil from the root ball with cool water
  • Wash leaves
  • Repot with organic top soil
  • Let sit for 2 weeks to dissipate any remaining chemicals

These can be planted in the substrate or kept in heavy ceramic pots. Keep in minds that live plants naturally contribute to the terrarium’s ambient humidity, and watering them via misting may make that humidity too high.

Climbing branches

Although corn snakes are primarily terrestrial, many individuals like to climb. It’s good exercise for the snake, and makes the most of your terrarium’s vertical space. However, don’t forget to make sure your lid locks are secure, or else you might find that your provided your snake with the perfect ladder.

corn snake accessories

Leaves

Autumn leaves are a great way to enhance your corn snake’s terrarium by providing them with a new sensory experience. They can smell, slither over, and burrow in the leaves, and best of all — the leaves are free to gather!

Terrarium Cleaning Tips

  • Remove poo immediately.
  • Replace substrate once a month or as needed if soaked with urine.
  • Do a full disinfect at least once a quarter or as needed.
  • Chlorhexidine, vinegar, bleach or ammonia solutions (diluted appropriately) can be used to disinfect, but don’t forget to rinse thoroughly!
  • Don’t put your snake back in its viv after cleaning until the chemical smell has faded.

Next → Everything you need to know about feeding your corn snake