Why do corn snakes rub their mouths on the tank? Snakes love to travel but rubbing their mouths on the tank is a different thing. I thought corn snakes do that to shed but for some reason they actually rub and squirm around with their mouth against the tank.

  • Is it flicking its tongue, trying to find the source of some scent?
    – ClickRick
    May 29, 2014 at 17:08
  • No, it just rubs its face on the tank but has no problems. Strange to see my snake or anyone elses snake do this kind of thing before. May 29, 2014 at 17:17
  • Maybe snakes can't grok glass, like cats with mirrors.
    – P i
    May 12, 2016 at 1:18

1 Answer 1


There are several reasons why a snake such as a corn snake might exhibit this sort of behaviour. Without more specific information about your particular case1 it's impossible to say which could apply to your snake, but they're all worth checking.

  • It could have a respiratory infection (RI). You say it doesn't show signs of being ill, but look closely for signs of bubbles coming out of its nose. If this is the case then it needs medical attention.
  • It could have mites. These can be really hard to see, but the main behaviour I would expect would be for it to sit in its water bowl for hours on end. In the UK, Callingtons is possibly the most widely-available good quality brand for dealing with them if that's the case.
  • It could be the start of a shedding process, and it's trying to loosen the skin around its face to start unpeeling. This should resolve itself in the normal way within a week or possibly two, though you should monitor the humidity levels and keep them higher than normal.
  • It might be because it's hungry so is hunting. Again, you've not said enough for us to know whether this might apply in your case, but it's a possibility. Or perhaps it's not hungry as such but wants variety in its diet.
  • It might not be hungry but it might still be able to smell something "interesting" (perhaps you) and want to get closer to investigate. Corns are particularly good with their sense of smell, so that's a possibility to work on.
  • It might be trying to escape. This would be more likely if it was unhappy in its enclosure, either because the heat was too high or too low, or the humidity was wrong, or it didn't have anywhere to feel secure such as a hide, or the water bowl is dirty, or in the wrong place, or it doesn't like the substrate ... the list just goes on. Look closely at the snake's environment1 from the snake's perspective and see if any could be changed safely.
  • Or it could be that it's just an inquisitive snake, and wants to know what's outside.

1 Basic husbandry checklist:

  1. enough space to roam
  2. secure place/places to hide
  3. light/dark at appropriate times
  4. temperature range (cool -> warm)
  5. humidity
  6. substrate
  7. cleanliness
  8. water supply
  9. diet
  10. appropriate, regular handling

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