Do Corn Snakes Get Lonely? Should They Be Kept In Pairs?

do corn snakes get lonely

Corn snakes are a great option for a first-time snake owner. Being new to this amazing hobby leads to some inevitable questions, however. One of the most common things a beginner wants to know is if their corn snake will get lonely and if they should keep more than one in the same enclosure?

Corn snakes do not get lonely because they have evolved as solitary creatures. If you keep two or more corn snakes together, it is likely to cause them stress. Close proximity between two corn snakes can even result in one eating the other. Corn snakes are asocial: They want to be alone.

If you’re still unsure, let’s dive into why corn snakes never get lonely, why you might see pet shops housing more than one snake together, and, if you have to, what are the best ways to keep more than one corn snake in the same tank.

Can Corn Snakes Feel Lonely?

Let me put my scientist hat on for a moment and explain exactly why you shouldn’t worry about your corn snake being lonely.

The Snake Brain and Loneliness

One of the easiest mistakes any pet owner can make is to anthropomorphize an animal. This simply means that we have a tendency to believe that animals think and feel about the world the same way we do.

They don’t! And no, snakes don’t want to cuddle with their owners, either.

More accurately, the further away from us on the evolutionary line, the more likely it is that our minds work differently. A dog might have some similar emotions to a human, but a beetle’s experience of the world is probably vastly different.

We humans have highly developed emotional areas known as the amygdala, insular cortex, and periaqueductal gray. Woah! That’s a mouthful.

These make us feel complex emotions like love and friendship. They drive us to want to be together. Without these, the snake has simpler emotions, and this explains why they don’t feel loneliness.

In essence, a snake can’t walk because it has no legs. It can’t feel a complex emotion like loneliness because it doesn’t have the parts of the brain required to generate that experience.

Snakes and Simple Emotions

One theory is that the snake brain has evolved to experience mainly two emotions:

  1. Aggression
  2. Fear

Of course, they can also experience pain. But take a look at those two emotions: Aggression and Fear. This explains why snakes don’t respond to other snakes well. If they are scared, they want to flee, and if they feel aggression then, well, it’s going to end badly!

The takeaway here is that the human brain is primed to feel advanced emotions like social affection, but the snake is so effective as a predator because it processes only a small number of “pure” or simple emotions.

Snakes don’t feel loneliness because that is only an emotion a social animal is capable of feeling.

It’s possible that some snake species have specific adaptions to be social, however, such as is seen with Garter snakes. Corn snakes don’t seem to have this behavior.

What Happens When Two Corn Snakes Are Kept Together?

can corn snakes be kept in pairs

Okay, so we’ve established that it’s unlikely your corn snake is going to get lonely. But does that mean keeping two snakes together is a bad idea?

Here are some of the negative outcomes you can expect by keeping two corn snakes together:

Cannibalism

As we’ve said, corn snakes can eat each other. This is more likely if one is much larger than the other.

Disease

Keeping two snakes together means that if one contracts a contagious illness such as infectious stomatitis (mouth rot), respiratory infections, and inclusion body disease, the other will catch the same illness. It’s tragic when one disease wipes out several pets at once.

Parasites

Snakes can be plagued with internal parasites like coccidia and worms. They can also have ticks or mites on their skin. These can be easily passed onto another snake. Soon, you’re having to treat two snakes instead of just one!

Emotional Feedback

Remember those simple emotions of aggression and fear we talked about? If one snake exhibits fear or aggressive behavior, this can generate a response from the other snake.

Aggression leads to injury or death through striking, while fear leads to stress that can be physically debilitating and cause eating issues.

Mating

Don’t want to have several young snakelets on your hands? Then do not keep two snakes of the same species together when male and female. Worse still, mating before full sexual maturation can be fatal.

The only real positive outcome for a snake owner when keeping two corn snakes in the same tank is that it saves space. You have to ask yourself then, are the dangers worth the risk?

can corn snakes live together

Can You Ever Keep Two Corn Snakes Together?

I’m not going to say it’s impossible to house two corn snakes together without something bad happening. There are snake owners who manage to do it.

You might also see pet shops do it as well (but this is temporary and sometimes pet shop owners don’t have the knowledge about snake husbandry that they should!).

What I am saying is that it’s not a great idea to keep two corn snakes together.

Still wanting to do it? Okay, okay. You can’t avoid the risks completely, but you can reduce the likelihood of something bad happening.

4 Rules for Keeping Corn Snakes Together

Keep the following in mind at all times when housing two corn snakes in the same tank:

  1. Only house two snakes of the same sex together, preferrably females. Males can coexist, but they can become competitive during breeding season (around March).
  2. They must be matured adults.
  3. Create double the number of hides so each snake can have solitude.
  4. Feed each snake separately to ensure each snake eats enough.

Vivarium Setup for Two Corn Snakes

The best type of set-up for two corn snakes is what’s known as “a stack”. This is a vivarium that has two or more vertical compartments where your snakes can enjoy time away from each other.

This will save space, but it will also reduce the risk of your snakes feeling trapped with each other (though they still won’t be as happy as they would be alone!).

Some stacks work as individual tanks that can be kept separate.

If you’re going to stick to one large tank, then you must keep enough space in the tank for each snake to have its own space, and to be able to stretch out fully.

Corn snakes aren’t very active, so they normally don’t require a huge enclosure. However, when you add them together, the size must double.

Here’s a table with some suggested minimum sizes.

Tank HeightTank LengthTank WidthTank Volume
1 Corn Snake12 inches (30.48cm)30 inches (76.2cm) 12 inches (30.48cm) 20 gallons
2 Corn Snakes24 inches (60.96cm)60 inches (152.4cm) 24 inches (60.96cm) 40 gallons
3 Corn Snakes36 inches (91.44cm)90 inches (228.6) 36 inches (91.44cm) 60 gallons
Minimum Corn Snake Tank Sizes

Conclusion

I hope this answers your questions about whether corn snakes get lonely or not. Your snake is perfectly happy on its own as long as you look after it. If you have any experience housing more than one corn snake or have any questions, I’d love to read them in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply