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Does Sand Good for Corn Snake?

Since your corn snake spends its entire time sliding on its belly, the kind of substrate you choose for it is of utmost importance. Naturally, snake parents may wonder ‘Does Sand Good for Corn Snake?’ and ‘is sand safe to use in snake enclosures as a substrate?’

This guide discusses whether sand as a substrate is a good choice for corn snake terrariums and, if not, what options are best when it comes to selecting the best substrate for this species.

Does Sand Good for Corn Snake?

A Corn snake lies on good substrates
A corn snake lies on good substrates

No, sand doesn’t good for corn snakes. Good substrates for corn snakes include coconut fiber, hemp bedding, natural reptile bedding.

Many species of snakes love ‘swimming’ in the sand but a corn snake isn’t one of them. In fact; many corn snakes hate sand. So if you are considering using sand as substrate, please consider the fact that it could make your pet uncomfortable and might even pose a risk to it.

Always take into account your corn snake’s natural habitat. In the wild, corn snakes are found in a variety of habitats such as overgrown fields, rocky hillsides, and forests. You might even find them in abandoned buildings. Some species dwell in trees and some others may be found in water bodies like streams, ponds, lakes, and even the oceans.

Yes, a  few varieties of corn snakes ( red rat snakes) do live in sandy deserts. These could accept sandy substrates. Even then, it is best to consult a herpetologist as to the type of sand to use as a substrate.

The bottom line – when selecting a substrate for corn snakes try to replicate the natural habitat of the particular species.

Pros and Cons of Sand as Snake Substrate

Sand as a substrate in snake terrariums comes with some advantages and disadvantages.


  • Sand is natural and easily available.
  • Some species of snakes love to dig pits in the sand. They excavate the sand and create snake holes to hide and rest.
  • Sand is easy to clean and replace. It does not harbor bacteria unlike other moist substrates like mulch. Quality sand is not too absorbent so it can keep the substrate dry.
  • The biggest advantage of using sand in terrariums is that it holds and conducts heat well. This helps stop heat from spreading through the terrarium and even regulates the enclosure’s temperature.
  • Soft sand is safe for the snake’s delicate belly and does not scratch or abrade its skin.
  • Sand is inexpensive so it can be a great choice for budget-minded pet owners.
Corn snake is crawling on the sand
Corn snake is crawling on the sand


Adding sand to corn snake enclosures can also pose some risks:

  • Coarse sand can hurt your corn snake and even scratch or abrade its skin.
  • Some dusty varieties of sand could cause respiratory issues or breathing problems in snakes.
  • Colored sands with toxic dyes can harm your pet if ingested.
  • Sand can even cause impactions in the snakes if they accidentally swallow it with their prey.
  • Many types of sand aren’t absorbent. They leave moisture from feces, urine, and spilled water on the surface for prolonged periods. If not replaced regularly, this could result in mold and fungal growth.
Sand can be harmful to corn snake
Sand can be harmful to corn snake

Other Worst Substrates for Corn Snakes

Here is a list of the worst substrates for corn snakes:

  • Paper towels – this is the messiest substrate as snake feces and urine will cause the paper to become a coagulated mess. It also needs replacing frequently. You can use paper towel substrate for juveniles and hatchlings but it is best not to use it for adult corn snakes.
  • Reptile carpets – Reptile carpets are non-toxic, tasteless, eco-friendly, anti-parasitic, and non-Irritating. However, they tend to come apart easily and need frequent replacing. Some even have strong chemical odors which can irritate humans and snakes. The fibers that come off these carpets can make the enclosure difficult to clean and might even enter the pet’s water bowls. Some reptile carpets need to be cleaned with hot water and chlorhexidine.
  • Aspen – Aspen bedding is too dry and can hamper the terrarium’s humidity. Aspen is also known to cause respiratory issues in snakes.
  • Pine/cedar shavings – These have a fragrant aroma that may be pleasant to humans but can lead to neurological damage in reptiles. Kiln-dried pine shavings are okay to use (since the drying process removes the smelly oils from them) but avoid cedar shavings at all costs.
  • Gravel – this substrate isn’t absorbent at all and tends to encourage fungal and bacterial growth. It can also hurt your snake when it tries to burrow in it.
  • Bark or wood chips – if your corn snake accidentally ingests the bark or chips, it could cause impaction and might even result in damage to its organs.
Other Worst Substrates for Corn Snakes
Other worst substrates for Corn Snakes

Best Substrates for Corn Snakes

The following substrates are the best as they mimic your corn snake’s natural habitat. They are also good for maintaining optimum relative humidity in the enclosure and are good for digging and burrowing.

  • Eco Earth/Plantation Soil (made of coconut fibers) – these are cheap, natural, and safe for your corn snake. They are good for burrowing and maintaining optimum humidity in the enclosure.
  • Hemp bedding – this is a great choice for snake bedding because it is absorbent, easy for snakes to burrow, moisture retentive, and mold resistant. Hemp bedding is available in large bags so it lasts long and is pocket-friendly as well.
  • Natural reptile bedding – many pet brands have natural, ready-to-use reptile bedding. These generally contain a mixture of peat moss, fine sand, carbon, and natural clay. Natural reptile bedding, when used properly, can provide optimum humidity, yet remain dry to the touch to prevent bacteria and fungi. Many ready-to-use reptile beddings contain natural mold inhibitors as well. They also encourage plant growth and are great for burrowing and egg laying.

Zilla Snake & Lizard Litter 8 Quarts

Zilla Snake and Lizard Litter, Aspen, 8 qt.
  • Laboratory grade aspen chips
  • The choice of many professional herpetologists
  • Hypo-allergenic, containing no harmful oils
  • Chip size makes spot cleaning easy
  • Ideal for snakes, monitors, skinks and geckos

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What Do Corn Snakes Like In Their Tank?

One of the most important things you can do before you bring your corn snake home is to create a cozy tank enclosure for it. Here are the basic steps:

Select the tank with the right size – A single corn snake will need a tank of at least 20 gallons.

Substrate – Use any of the substrates above. Get some extra so you can replace the soiled substrate frequently.

Rocks and branches – Adding rocks, branches, and barks can encourage your pet to explore the terrarium. Only add smooth rocks so they won’t hurt your buddy. Clean the rocks and branches so you do not accidentally introduce parasites into the enclosure.

Heat, light, and humidity – corn snakes like warmth, so add a heating pad or some light source to provide heat. Create a basking area so your pet can get some “sun”. Install two thermometers – one on the warm side (basking area) and the other on the cooler end of the tank. Keep the temperature range between 75-82 F on the cool side and 80-85 F on the warm side. Get a hygrometer to ensure the relative humidity is between 40-50% to keep your corn snake healthy and prevent breathing issues. If needed, add a water mister as well.

Feeding area – Add a water bowl and feeding station if you are not planning to feed live prey to your corn snake. 

Soaking bowl – Since corn snakes enjoy a swim in shallow water, you may also add a soaking bowl in the enclosure.

PENN-PLAX Reptology Shale Scape Step Ledge

PENN-PLAX Reptology Shale Scape Step Ledge – Decorative Resin for Aquariums & Terrariums – Great for Reptiles, Amphibians, and Fish – Small
  • REALISTIC ROCK FORMATION: Highlighting a rough, picturesque display, the Reptology Shale Scape Step Ledge is a must have for pet owners looking to add a beautiful and functional piece to their aquarium or terrarium. This piece is perfect for small reptiles, newts, salamanders, crayfish, axolotls, snakes, territorial fish, and more!
  • GREAT FOR CLIMBING AND BASKING: This Shale Scape is not only decorative, but is also purposeful! If your pet reptile or amphibian loves to climb, this piece will be their next mountain to conquer, as they rest peacefully on the top basking platform, regulating their body temperature as they see fit.
  • NATURAL HIDING SPOTS: With 3 entrance and exit holes, the Reptology Shale Scape Step Ledge offers several ways to climb, slither, and swim around! In addition to reptiles and amphibians, this piece provides a great swim through or hiding spot for axolotls, fish, and crustaceans, such as crayfish and shrimp.
  • MADE OF SAFE AND DURABLE RESIN: Our Shale Scapes are inspected with your pet’s safety in mind, and are safe for freshwater and saltwater aquariums. The resin has a sturdy base: you don’t need to worry about it floating around once you place it underwater.
  • MEASUREMENTS: Overall = 7.75” (W) x 5.5” (D) x 2” (H) / Front Hole = 2.25” x 2” / Back Left Hole = 2” x 1.75” / Back Right Hole = 2” x 1.75”

Last update on 2022-12-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


What substrate is best for corn snakes?

Substrates made of coconut fiber, hemp, or ready-to-use snake tank substrates with peat moss, clay, carbon, and fine sand are good for corn snakes.

Do snakes like to play in the sand?

Some species of snakes do like to dig and burrow in the sand. They also create hideouts in the sand to sleep and rest.

Do corn snakes like to be sprayed with water?

No. You must not spray water on your corn snake as it could startle your pet and even stress it out. You can use a mister in one area of the enclosure or add a humidifier to increase the enclosure’s relative humidity. You may also place a large soaking water bowl in the enclosure for your snake to soak in.

Key Takeaways – Does Sand Good for Corn Snake?

Corn snake enclosures should not contain sand as a substrate since sand can be dusty which could lead to breathing/respiratory issues in your snake. Accidentally ingesting sand can also harm your snake by causing impaction or damaging its internal organs.

The best substrate for corn snakes is coconut fiber, hemp bedding, or a mixture of peat moss-clay-fine sand and carbon.

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