Hi, I’m new to MM and (mostly) to the hobby. I’m a trained ornithologist and science communicator, and I’ve seen firsthand the magic that can happen when people handle snakes for the first time. I’m very interested in keeping snakes for outreach/education purposes.
I’ve decided corn snakes are an obvious choice for an outreach animal. I was by default looking for a young snake when I came across an adult snake here on MM that looked like it would be a good option. However, I wonder if anyone that has done this sort of thing could advise on whether it’s a better idea to adopt a young snake, or an adult snake for this purpose? I’d appreciate literally any advice from corn snake keepers, particularly those who have shared experiences of their snake with strangers.
Ok so here’s my humble opinion but @caryl can give you expert advice on this subject as she breeds them.
If it were me I would buy a baby corn obviously from a reputable breeder and raise it for several months or so, maybe 6 months to a year even. Corn snakes take handling without getting stressed out better than other snakes. Handle it frequently except before and after feeding days.
As babies, corns are quite squirmy but with regular handling they calm down quite nicely . Plus by that time you have gotten to know your snake. A confident, familiar with the snake, handler, and a calm snake duo make for a great outreach/education program.
Best of luck with your endeavors! I think it’s wonderful that you want to educate people on what great animals snakes are. God bless you for that!
As someone who does these classes on a semi-regular basis (I thinkbthere are 4 this week) I would say that depends on the intended audience. For early elementary age kids, we generally use our adult kingsnakes. Small hands and fingers can sometimes poke and grip a little too hard and you want that body size to buffer. Middle school and up we use all ages. Some of the kids we see have watched some of our animals grow up as the come on successive years. And as said, adult snakes are often easier to handle.
If the adult is coming from a small breeder or pet owner and you’re able to confirm that the snake tolerates handling well, then I’d say go for it. Otherwise, you might have an easier time shooting for a yearling or sub adult. Still plenty of life left for acclimating to frequent handling, but a little bigger, sturdier, and better at eating than a fresh hatchling. Whichever age you choose, try to go with a smaller breeder who regularly handles their snakes and can give you an idea of which snake might be the best fit for your purposes.
And then of course come back here and post pictures of what you get!
Good for you, @douglitas! It’s wonderful when people help others learn about the world and the wonderful creatures in it. Corn snakes can be great education/outreach animals. I’ve done a lot of educational programs with them in the past. I’ve also kept corns as classroom pets when I taught high school. Like any creature, individuals are individual and some are more relaxed than others about being handled by lots of strangers.
If you can find an adult who’s well used to being handled, I’d lean that direction. They’re less likely to be harmed by the inexperienced people with whom you’ll be sharing them. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with starting with a young one. There’s a bit of an advantage in that they can grow up accepting that life normally involves educational events. I wouldn’t advise getting anything younger than a yearling simply because they’re more fragile, so more likely to be unintentionally harmed by a handle or if they fall. Youngsters are also more likely to be skittish, and very fast. They’re good at shooting out of hands, and a fall to a hard floor can really hurt them. I’ve had some babies in my classroom, and they’ve been handled by students. Many yearlings and subadults can do very well with outreach.
Though I’ve yet to meet a truly nasty corn snake, some are more interested in and calm with large-scale interaction. This is, it seems from my experience, partly innate. Any corn can become accustomed to handling but some hatch seemingly enjoying it. I totally agree with @solarserpents that you should buy from someone who handles their snakes regularly. They should be able to give you info about individual personalities.
Best of luck with this wonderful goal! Can’t wait to see those pics.
Thank you to everyone! Seems like there are pros and cons (like in most things) to raising a corn snake from young vs starting with an adult. I think until engaging in this conversation I didn’t do the math and realize that the benefits of socializing a very young snake myself would come with the detriment of having to wait until it grew a bit to confidently allow others to handle it. Ultimately, I found a really promising (nearly) yearling that is putting on weight nicely and has a great disposition. To @solarserpents point, I lucked out and found a smaller breeder who focuses on cultivating nice temperaments as well as genetics, the friendly, knowledgeable @noodlehaus.
I really do hope to come back with pictures as requested, but more than that, a genuine contribution to the community in the form of discussing how to engage with the public that largely doesn’t know or care much about snakes. And since I can’t help but become interested in nitty gritty biology, you’ll probably see me on here learning about genetics and stuff as well. Thanks so much for the warm welcome and the engagement here so far!
I can definitely post some photos here of your soon to be boy, if you’d like, to hold you and the community over until he arrives! I think he’s going to be the perfect fit for your needs, an absolute gentleman of a snake. If you’d like to speak to someone who owns one of his clutch mates, @lumpy owns Leaky, whose story can be found in this thread.
Welcome to the MorphMarket community, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it here, there’s so much knowledge and support to be had, shared goals to work towards. Can’t wait to hear more about your education and outreach adventures! And as you know, we’re all here to answer any questions or concerns you might have.