Corn snakes are one of the most popular captive reptiles, owned by thousands of enthusiasts around the world. As a corn snake owner, it's your responsibility to keep your snake comfortable, which means proper housing, temperatures, and diet. Achieving the right temperatures in the enclosure is essential to your snake’s overall health and a heating pad is one of the top choices for reptile owners, helping to radiate heat into the enclosure, creating a hot spot that enables your snake to regulate its temperature with ease.
Corn Snake Temperature Requirements
Corn snakes are cold-blooded and therefore they rely on their environment to provide the heat their bodies need to metabolize. You should provide three temperatures in the enclosure working from one side to the other, this enables your snake to move between areas comfortably.
- Basking Surface - 90°F (32°C)
- Ambient / Air Temperature - 78-82°F (25-27°C)
- Cool side - 75°F (23-24°C)
Nighttime temperatures can drop to 68°F (20°C) at night. Depending on your climate, you may not need to provide heat at night. If you do, ensure you use your heat mat with thermostat, providing a comfortable night time temperature for your reptile pet.
In a Hurry? Here's Our Top Picks...
You cannot simply plug your heat mat in and expect it to work. You need to regularly monitor the temperatures inside the terrarium, enabling you to make any adjustments to keep your corn snake happy and healthy.
The Exo Terra Digital Thermometer is a good choice that provides an easy to read digital display with accurate temperature indication and single button operation. It relies on a remote sensor offering minimum and maximum memory. The thermometer enables you to quickly check the temperature in the enclosure at any time.
Another option is to use a temperature gun, which enables you to measure the surface temperature. The Etekcity Digital Laser Temperature Gun offers an easy grip with a durable handle and is designed to provide accurate and instant results by simply pointing the laser to the area you want to measure. It offers quick and convenient solution with a backbit LCD screen for easy viewing.
Best Heat Source for Corn Snakes - Heating Pads vs Heat Lamps
There are two common heating sources used by corn snake owners:
- Heating Pad (or heat mat or under tank heater)
- Heating Lamp
- Great for corn snakes that seek ground heat
- Can be used in a variety of setups
- Gives heat to the belly to assist with metabolism
- Can cause burns if not used with a thermostat
- Can stop working without you noticing, which is why you must use a thermometer to monitor your temperature regularly
- Can crack glass tanks if not installed properly
Never use a heating pad without a good thermostat, such as the BN-LINK Digital Heat Mat Thermostat Controller. This offers effortless heating with a three-button interface to help you choose your temperature settings with confidence. It offers digital display, Fahrenheit and Celsius and easy power indicator lights. It has a very rugged construction with a six-feet temperature probe and is safe and reliable. This thermostat controls temperatures ranging from 40-108°F, the temperature display range is 32 -140°F.
- Available in most pet shops
- Wide variety of wattage strengths available
- Dry the air, removing any humidity in the enclosure
- Must use with a thermostat to make it safe to use
- Doesn't reach inside hides
- Replace often
- Night temperatures drop considerably when turned off
Considerations When Buying a Corn Snake Heating Pad
The size of the pad is important. Remember you want it to cover one third of the floor on the underside of your enclosure to achieve a thermal gradient.
You may be wondering what wattage your heat mat should be. The wattage depends on the heating pad size.
General rule of thumb:
Heat Pad Size
Heat Pad Wattage
4 x 5 inch (10 x 13 cm)
10 - 20 gallon
6 x 8 inch (15 x 20 cm)
30 - 40 gallon
8 x 12 inch (20 x 30 cm)
50 - 60 gallon
8 x 18 inch (20 x 45 cm)
Corn Snake Heating Pad Setup
- Place the heat mat under the side of the enclosure where you want to create your basking surface.
- Plug heat mat into thermostat and stick probe on the floor, to the center of the heat mat area. Make sure the probe can not be moved by your snake.
- Set thermostat with minimum and maximum temperatures to ensure the safety and health of your snake.
- Place the probe of your thermometer on the heat mat for easy monitoring.
NOTE: You can consider placing the thermostat probe between the base of the tank and the heat mat, on the outside. This is often used by breeders that use small plastic tubs to breed their corn snakes
- Place the heat mat inside the wood enclosure on the side you want to create your basking surface. This is because the wood stops the radiation of heat.
- Once you have plugged in your thermostat, lay a layer of shelf liner and then your substrate, reducing the risk of your snake coming in direct contact with the heat pad.
- Set your thermostat temperatures and set your thermometer, with the probe glued to the center of the pad to provide accurate temperatures for easy monitoring.
NOTE: For both glass and wooden setup, only put a thin layer of substrate over the heat mat, as the substrate can prevent the radiation of heat.
Best Corn Snake Heating Pad
iPower Reptile Heat Mat
This 8” x 12” heat pad offers 16 watts with a six-foot cord. It uses 120V US voltage and is suitable for a thirty to forty-gallon terrarium. It offers excellent performance and is affordable in price while being easy to clean. The heat pad has an improved design to increase heat transfer, helping to reach the desired temperature within minutes, while reducing energy consumption. This heat mat is waterproof and moisture proof, enabling you to use it for glass and wooden corn snake enclosures.The iPower Reptile Heat Mat is suitable for snakes, lizards, small mammals, and more.
Zilla Heat Mat Terrarium Heater
The Zilla Heat Mat Terrarium Heater helps your snake regulate its body temperate to improve health and help with metabolism. This pad is easy to use with adhesive mounting to ensure the best in heat transfer. It is energy efficient providing warmth for cold-blooded reptiles that rely on their environment to get the heat they need. Your corn snake spends most of its time on the base of the enclosure, making the heat mat the most effective way to provide the warm side of the cage your snake needs.
AIICIOO Under Tank Heater
This heat pad is ideal for corn snakes offering a twenty-four-hour primary or secondary heat source with optimal mounting on the base or side of the terrarium. If your enclosure doesn't have a lifted base, the rubber feet included will be useful to create airflow between the heat mat and ground surface. The AllCIOO Under Tank Heater is easy to wipe clean with eight watts of power and the size of 8” x 6”, making it suitable for a ten to twenty-gallon tank size. In addition to this, this heat pad comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.This under tank heat slowly heats the glass and the air inside the terrarium and can take up to six hours to reach an accurate temperature. Installation is quick and easy with the self-adhesives backing.
PeSandy Reptile Heating Pad with Temperature Adjustment
This heat pad is made from upgraded materials that provides balanced heating and is completely safe for your pet. It warms the terrarium with overheat protection and easy to use design. The pad offers a removable adhesive paper and is suitable for most reptiles. Some features of the PeSandy Reptile Heating Pad are the regulating power switch, enclosed leak proof design with low power consumption, and suitable for a full range of reptiles, providing essential belly heat to aid in metabolism.
How to Use a Heating Pad Safely
The first and foremost thing you need to know when it comes to heat pad safety is to always use a thermostat. This cannot be stressed enough. Without a thermostat, the heat pad cannot regulate properly, this means it can overheat and injure your pet.
Ensure you place the probe on top of the heat mat to measure the temperature. There is no point in putting the probe away from the mat. You want to get an accurate reading. Use a thermostat and then a thermometer to ensure that you can accurately monitor temperature at all times.
Regularly monitor temperatures within the terrarium using your thermometer to ensure your heat mat is working properly and safely.
Place the heat pad on the outside of glass terrariums to reduce any direct contact. Placing the heating pad on the outside of a glass terrarium helps with heat radiation, helping you create a comfortable basking surface for your corn snake.
In addition to this, if you have a wood vivarium, you are going to need to place your heating pad on the inside of the terrarium, which is why you want to make it safe for your corn snake and reduce the risk of it coming into direct contact with the pad. Use a layer of shelf liner to create a barrier and reduce the risk of your pet coming into contact with the pad and getting burned.
It's also never recommended that you put substrate directly onto the heat pad. It is not safe and its' high risk. Therefore, even when you have your heat pad on the outside of the terrarium, using some shelf liner and then your substrate can prove useful.
To reduce the risk of fire and overheating, you want to ensure you leave a gap between the heat mat and the surface to allow for adequate airflow. If your enclosure isn't already raised, then use small rubber feet to lift it a couple of centimeters. The same applies if your enclosure doesn't have a gap in the base for the heat pad cord. Make a hole to reduce the risk of the tank pushing down and squeezing the cord, which increases the risk of fire in the home.
The heat pad is definitely the most popular heating source for corn snakes. It offers a basking surface where your snake can regulate its temperature and soak up the belly heat it needs to ensure good overall health. Remember to always use a thermostat to manage the heat pad temperatures, along with a digital thermometer and temperature gun for accurate monitoring to ensure your corn snake remains happy and healthy.