I'm about to get my first corn snake, but I keep seeing conflicting instructions on their care. If I need to take them out of the tank to feed, but can't handle them for 48 hrs after feeding them, where do I put them? Should I get a separate feeding tank or can I handle the snake briefly to put it back in its tank?
There are differing opinions on how best to feed a corn snake and I certainly understand feeling a little overwhelmed when you’re trying to decipher what’s critical and what’s opinion.
Really what we’re trying to prevent is any kind of stress that would make your snake feel unsafe with a full tummy and cause them to regurgitate their meal so that it’s not slowing them down in the event they make need to make a speedy getaway.
You don’t have to feed in a separate enclosure if you’d rather not. There’s really no reason to do so unless there is a legitimate concern that your snake might eat substrate or might refuse food.
For example: Kitty Junior, my lavender corn snake lady, won’t eat unless she and her meal are completely alone and she feels totally safe, so I pop her into a paper lunch bag for dinnertime. After she eats, I tip the bag over and she slithers out and goes to her favorite basking spot.
You can prevent your snake eating substrate without moving them by offering food on a tray or in a bowl or a deli cup or in a specific hide in their enclosure. I’ve used plastic grass mats from the dollar store, linoleum samples, doll dishes, cardboard tubes, and sauce cups as snake plates with great success. Exo Terra even sells a $14 bowl that looks like a hollow rock that your snake can eat in if you like spending money.
If you choose to feed outside of the enclosure, which again you certainly do not have to do, you can handle the snake briefly while you put them back into their enclosure. A few seconds of contact isn’t going to stress an established snake, especially if they already know you and have had an opportunity to recognize you as the warm creature that brings food and lets them have adventures and makes the poo go away.
Just make sure they have the chance to rest and digest for 48 hours with limited interruptions once they’re back in their home.