Basking Corn Snake

Reptiles such as lizards, snakes, geckos, crocodiles, and turtles are cold-blooded animals which means that they cannot generate heat internally for themselves. They rely on their natural environment for warmth. In the wild, the sun is their natural heat source, but if they live in captivity, they will require an artificial heat source to maintain their body temperature. If you are wondering: how long can a corn snake go without heat? Keep reading.

Why Do Corn Snakes Need Heat?

Corn snakes are cold-blooded animals (ectotherms), meaning they require external heat to digest food, move properly, excrete waste, circulate blood, breathe, and reproduce. Female corn snakes also require warmth to nurture their embryos. Warm-blooded animals, or endotherms, derive most of their energy from food, whereas ectothermic animals depend on the warmth from their environment as a primary source of energy. When the body temperature of a snake rises too high or falls too low, they become lethargic and are unable to move correctly or execute critical bodily processes. This is why a stable temperature is required for them to operate or hunt effectively. In the wild, Corn snakes bask in the sun to keep their body temperature stable. The sun not only provides necessary heat but also maintains the necessary quantity of minerals and vitamins in a snake’s body. The sun is necessary as a significant source, but in an artificial setting, other sources such as adequate lighting, heat lamps, heat mats, etc. are crucial.

Note: Deriving energy from sunlight gives ectotherms the benefit of being able to go long periods without feeding.

How Long Can a Corn Snake Go Without Heat?

It has been known that corn snakes can survive for around 3 weeks without heat, but true studies are impossible to complete without harming the animal. There are many variables to consider when thinking about how long they can survive such as how cold the temperature gets without heat. The colder it gets, the less time the snake will survive. If, for example, the temperature drops too low, your snake is likely to become sluggish and its bodily functions may begin to shut down. Also worth considering is that if you like to keep your house at sub-tropical temperatures, your corn snake may not need too much additional supplemental heat.

Note: If your power goes out for a couple of hours but the temperature does not drop too much, there is no need to panic, however, if you are unable to provide adequate heat for a long period, you will need to find a solution.

Do Corn Snakes Need Heat 24/7?

The idea that corn snakes require constant heat 24/7, is untrue. Their bodies require a consistent balance of hot and cool temperatures. As a result, they adjust their body temperature based on their internal demands. Corn snakes are accustomed to spending their lives in the proper day and night cycles in their native environment and they will move between warm and cool locations in their enclosure. Their bodies require more than just heat; they also require a cooling effect, which is provided by the nighttime temperature drop.

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Do Corn Snakes Need Heat at Night?

Corn snakes do not require heat at night. Their habitat should be kept at a temperature between 75°-90°f normally, but the temperature can be reduced to 65-70°f at night. They can quickly adapt to rising temperatures throughout the day and falling temperatures at night. Corn snakes are tough and resistant to cold nights; therefore, the heating should be turned off at night. If you need to keep a steady night temperature because you keep your house particularly cold, you could use a heat lamp and a heat mat together, then switch off the basking lamp or bulb at night and leave the under-tank heat pad on to keep the temperature consistent. The goal of altering the temperature in a reptile’s environment is to simulate the heat it would get in the wild. This effort is required to give your snake a cozy environment similar to its natural home.

What Temperatures Do Corn Snakes Need?

Regarding enclosure temperature, you should have a hot spot of roughly 85°F or 29.4°C. A “hot spot” is the hottest location in your snake’s enclosure. A “basking zone” with temperatures ranging from 28 to 30 degrees Celsius and a “cold end” with temperatures ranging from 20 to 24 degrees Celsius must be set for their comfort. You can achieve these temperatures by using a heat lamp to warm up a specified area, alternately, using a heat mat accomplishes the same purpose, except it heats the surface from below rather than above.

This allows your corn snakes to remain concealed and protected while being warm. This is similar to a snake crawling beneath anything warm, such as rocks, wood, garbage, or leaves.

Do Corn Snakes Need a Heat Mat or a Heat Lamp?

Corn snakes do require a heating pad or heat lamp in their habitat but there is no one-size fits all solution. Under-tank heating is often advised for beginners as they are easier to install and manage but there are some more advanced reptile keepers that will use light sources or a combination of both. The important thing to consider is the ambient room temperature, if your terrarium is by a window or gets a through draft, you may want to use a combination of light for basking and a heat mat for added warmth or to keep the temperature up during the night.


How long can a Corn Snake go without heat? The simple answer is that corn snakes can survive for two to three weeks without an external heat source although this is in rare cases where the temperatures have not dropped too much. Although corn snakes can withstand harsh environmental conditions better than some other species of snakes, if the temperature drops too much, this can cause serious harm to your snake and easily be fatal.

How long can a corn snake go without heat infographic

Reptile Wrestler Tips!

“Ensure your corn snake has a basking temperature of 88-92°f during the day!”

“Never place an under-tank heating mat inside the enclosure – heat mats are to be placed under the tank!”

“Keep your corn snake habitat away from windows and sources of through drafts – particularly in colder areas!”

“The cool zone for corn snakes can be as low as approx. 62°f but anything colder than this for a sustained period of time may be detrimental to your snake’s health!”


Is heat essential for corn snakes?

Yes, sufficient heat is required for appropriate organ activity and critical biological activities such as breathing, digestion, blood circulation, reproduction, etc. Proper temperature aids in the activation of these mechanisms in corn snakes and other cold-blooded animals as well.

Are heat mats compulsory for a corn snake enclosure?

Corn snakes absorb their required energy and heat from the sun in the wild, but by keeping them as pets, proper heat and temperature management are required. For this purpose, heat mats or heat lamps are used in the enclosure for better sustenance in captivity.

Will corn snakes die if they get too cold?

Yes, as ectotherms, snakes require heat for their body to function correctly. If a snake gets too cold, its bodily functions will begin to fail and it will inevitably die.

About Me

Hi, I’m Stuart and I’ve had reptiles for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I studied for a master’s in Herpetology. Over the years I have worked at several zoos before opening my very own reptile sanctuary. In my spare time, I run this website – which is a resource for people who want to learn more about their little beasties.

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