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Random thoughts on corns and their care
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Old 11-03-2013, 03:19 PM   #1
Chip
Random thoughts on corns and their care

I kept my first corn snake as a yard collected pet in the 70's and to memory, I've produced at least one clutch of colubrids since 1999. I've been doing this for a while now and I have made a lot of mistakes that I have learned from. In spite of this, a year has yet to go by where I haven't learned something, so I would never say I have mastered keeping these "beginner pets." In fact, many of my most solid beliefs have changed in recent years. A few of my notions have become more concrete, of course. I may write further on any of these topics later, but just off the top of my head...

Things I've changed my mind on, and no longer believe:
1) A varied diet is beneficial to corns.
2) "Hobby" snakes lack the vigor of earlier generations from wild.
3) Bloodred has a tendency to be weak genetically.
4) Inbreeding has innate negative consequences.
5) There is some, even if minor, benefit to live or pre-killed vs. frozen mice.
6) Homemade racks can be built better and cheaper than commercial racks (at least by someone with my skill set).
7) 7 to 10 days before feeding or handling a reptile is needed to let them settle in to a new enclosure.


Things I feel more strongly about:

1) They need exercise!
2) Feeding outside the enclosure isn't the greatest idea for many snakes.
3) Given a proper temperature to move to, they will not burn themselves, even with "too hot" of a hot spot.
4) A percentage of babies that hatch should never be bred (subjective as that statement is).
5) UVB lighting is not needed for snakes. (In fact, it can be harmful)
6) Most health issues with captive snakes are temperature related, and the industry makes few products for people with one reptile. (as a pet shop owner, I can't offer an economical entry level thermostat-controlled snake viv.)
7) Cohabitation is a bad idea.


That should get the ball rolling. I suspect many of you "old-timers" will agree with some of these points and take issue with others, I'm curious as to your thoughts.
 
Old 11-04-2013, 12:11 AM   #2
Aozora
I'm not at all an old-timer, but I kept my first corn in 1995. These are the things that books and other reptile keepers told us were biblical truth back then, and are no longer the case:

1) reptile carpet is the best substrate
2) "Don't worry, you can just weigh down that screen lid and he'll be fine."
3) pre-killed is the best food
4) "They're not hungry after they shed."

(Some explanation on the last one: we were told that, so we only fed our adult corn a single pinky after he shed, after he'd skipped a meal while in blue. He wolfed it down, and escaped his cage that night to get his entree--my mom's prize red-factor singing canary. She made us take him back to the pet shop.)
 
Old 11-04-2013, 12:38 AM   #3
Chip
Escapes... yet another reason I like commercial enclosures!
 
Old 11-04-2013, 01:20 AM   #4
Amanda47
Could I ask about your thoughts on feeding in or out of the viv? I can probably guess why you think it's not good to feed outside the viv, but I'd like to know about your experience. I hope to learn something new
 
Old 11-04-2013, 05:31 AM   #5
Nanci
I'll tell you why I _like_ feeding outside the viv :-) I get a weight on each snake every time. Since my feeding schedule runs strongly on weight, this is important to me. I also get to remove the water bowl and scrub it, and remove/replace paper towels or substrate, or even just do a thorough poop-check/hide inspection without the snake's "help." I _do_ believe snakes who are fed in the viv come to hope/associate that _any_ time you open the viv, food is coming. I think they will bite first and apologize later. I'm sure most substrate ingestions are not harmful, but they aren't beneficial, either. And finally, with 60 snakes now, and up to 100 babies in season, if they weren't removed for feeding, they just wouldn't get handled and kissed and photographed as often.
 
Old 11-04-2013, 05:38 AM   #6
Nanci
I'm familiar with Chip's method of heating. Speaking of unregulated heating, I think it is dependent on having big enough enclosures for the snakes to move away from the heat. I'm pretty sure a shoebox sized hatchling bin isn't big enough, and I have my doubts that a 66 quart adult bin is. And in fact we have seen time and again the deaths that occur when a rack thermostat fails. Aside from that, it is not energy efficient to have a heating device running full blast 24 hours a day. Now I think it would be beneficial to offer cornsnakes, especially younger ones, a hot spot of about 90F IF it didn't heat the cool end of the enclosure up above 80. Actually, they probably have a much wider range of temperature acceptance than we typically provide for them. It is quite surely more important for reptiles to have enough heat- cold is very stressful for reptiles.
 
Old 11-04-2013, 07:25 AM   #7
Guruofchem
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanci View Post
I'll tell you why I _like_ feeding outside the viv :-) I get a weight on each snake every time. Since my feeding schedule runs strongly on weight, this is important to me. I also get to remove the water bowl and scrub it, and remove/replace paper towels or substrate, or even just do a thorough poop-check/hide inspection without the snake's "help." I _do_ believe snakes who are fed in the viv come to hope/associate that _any_ time you open the viv, food is coming. I think they will bite first and apologize later. I'm sure most substrate ingestions are not harmful, but they aren't beneficial, either. And finally, with 60 snakes now, and up to 100 babies in season, if they weren't removed for feeding, they just wouldn't get handled and kissed and photographed as often.
I don't have anything like your experience, but your points about weights and cleaning mirror my own, and as my animals are often around children at school, it's important to me to minimize misunderstandings about feedings.
 
Old 11-04-2013, 10:50 AM   #8
Chip
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amanda47 View Post
Could I ask about your thoughts on feeding in or out of the viv? I can probably guess why you think it's not good to feed outside the viv, but I'd like to know about your experience. I hope to learn something new
I didn't say it's "not good," I said it's not the greatest idea for many snakes! I have a number of snakes that are simply too nervous to eat after being moved, so they wouldn't be good candidates. A spooked snake isn't going to put itself in the vulnerable position of having a mouse filling up its only defense. At the other end of this spectrum are snakes (this is especially common with getula kings) go into "hunt mode" after eating, and will bite anything that moves while in that mode. With those, feeding outside the enclosure will only increase your chances of being bitten.

From a health perspective, I worry about contamination, and to sterilize 60-100 rubbermaids a week would add a ton of time to feeding. Probably the biggest reason of all is, while experimenting with it, I had the first adult escape in many years! I don't bash feeding outside the viv, but I have to roll my eyes when a relatively new keeper tells a completely new keeper they are committing some sort of cardinal sin for not doing it. If you have a confident snake with a strong feeding response, it really comes down to preference.
 
Old 11-04-2013, 12:09 PM   #9
maxfox426
Being that I'm still fairly new to the hobby, I started out with a lot of the same thoughts that you took years to develop. It's interesting how much things change over time, as we all learn what works, doesn't work, and ultimately strive to better the care of our animals.

That said, this one really did strike me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chip View Post
Things I've changed my mind on, and no longer believe:
6) Homemade racks can be built better and cheaper than commercial racks (at least by someone with my skill set).
I, not all that long ago, set out with the very gung-ho mentality that I had everything it takes to build all my own racks. I'm a fairly handy person, and very detail oriented. No reason so spend money on commercial racks! Ever! I built my first rack, a four-slot melamine system, and it's still great. It's holding up perfectly. It still does everything I ever asked it to do, and looks fairly nice to boot.

Then two years ago, I bought a ten-slot Animal Plastics rack. And... I'm in love. I probably will never build another rack, aside from modifying the homemade one I already have.

Sure, I paid a bit more to buy the rack than I would have spent to build something with the same capacity, and I could still very easily build a rack to meet similar specifications, but the final product of the AP rack is so worth the difference. I can't even really explain what the real difference *is*. The only thing I can think of is the weight (my four-slot homemade rack is easily twice as heavy as the ten-slot AP rack), but it's not like that was ever a direct problem. I don't know. I just know that the AP rack is one of the nicest, most functional things I've ever bought. It really is better than my homemade one, regardless of how proud I am for building it.

I still use my handy skills to build other snake-related things (usually equipment storage and I'm probably going to add-on a hatchling system to my existing homemade rack), but despite my abilities, I really think I'm leaving full-size snake racks to the professionals from now on.

Sorry, that was kind of long and pointless, long story short, I agree with you! And to think I thought I would NEVER buy a commercial rack system. lol
 
Old 11-04-2013, 01:23 PM   #10
MysticExotics
This is a great thread Chip!
I'm with you on feeding outside the enclosure. I do not frown upon those who do, but I feel it is unnecessary. I do weight & photograph my animals on a somewhat regular basis, especially the babies, but I do that on a separate day. I will generally go through on a day to weigh & photograph animals, every few weeks or so. Some of my animals would not eat if I moved them to another enclosure to eat.

Edit to add: Feeding outside of the enclosure is time consuming. ("Ain't nobody got time for that!") It's much quicker to just offer food in the enclosure.
 

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