How to Use a Heat Lamp for a Corn Snake

Written by arlen hershey
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Corn snakes make excellent pets and are relatively easy to care for. Like all reptiles, corn snakes are cold-blooded, which means they cannot control their body temperature. Instead, their environment must provide warm and cool places for them to go in order to maintain a constant body temperature. A snake's environment should have a basking spot that is kept at about 26.7 degrees Celsius. This basking spot can be heated by an electric heat pad, heated rock, heat lamp or combination of these.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Heat lamp
  • 25 watt bulb
  • Lamp timer
  • Heating pad
  • Thermometer

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    Setting Up a Heat Lamp

  1. 1

    Decide where in the enclosure you wish you position the basking spot for the corn snake. It is best to choose one end of the tank as the basking spot, and then leave the other end of the tank as the cool, unheated spot. Be sure never to place the heat lamp directly over the snake's water dish or food items.

  2. 2

    Attach your heat lamp to the snake's terrarium. Some heat lamps come with a clamp, which is helpful, but a heat lamp can also be placed directly on top of a metal mesh lid if your terrarium has one. The heat lamp should be kept at least 12 inches from the bottom of the enclosure. If the lid of the terrarium is more than 2 feet from the floor consider using a basking bulb with a higher wattage.

  3. 3

    Corn snakes should have roughly 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark each day. Plug the heat lamp into a timer and then plug the timer into the wall. The heat lamp can be turned off during the night, but a heat pad should be kept on 24 hours a day to provide ample heat for the snake.

  4. 4

    Test the temperature of the basking spot with a thermometer. If it is not approximately 80 degrees, adjust the wattage or proximity of your lamp and test again after the area has had time to adjust to the change.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure the lid of the tank is metal mesh. Never place a heat lamp over a plastic or glass lid as the heat can melt or break these materials.
  • When taking off the heat lamp to get into the tank, always be very mindful of where the heat lamp is directed. Even when unplugged, the lamp can still be very hot and should not be placed on countertops or other surfaces that could be damaged from the heat.

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