Corn snakes have hearty appetites and generally have no trouble feeding in captivity. However, some corn snakes will refuse to eat in the daytime and may only be comfortable eating in the dark. If this is the case, drop the food into his cage just before turning out the lights and then check back to make sure the food has been eaten. Corn snakes are generally very anxious to get to their food, so using feeding tongs to keep the food as far away from your fingers as possible is a good idea.
Rodents are usually the food of choice for corn snakes, mainly mice and rats. Chicks and chicken eggs can also be fed, but they should be reserved as a treat food and not served as a meal. Feeding your corn snake a chick every few weeks will help to promote healthy scales and shedding cycles because of the protein content.
All snakes should be willing to accept live prey, as this is the form of food that is most natural for them. Monitor the feeding situation closely, however, as live prey can injure your corn snake. If he does not eat within one hour of the food’s introduction, remove the prey from the cage and try again in a few days.
Pre-killed prey is often considered to be the more humane type of food. Pre-killed prey is frozen and must be thawed to room temperature before feeding it to your corn snake. Some snakes are unwilling to accept frozen prey, but they may possibly by enticed if you hold the prey with a pair of tongs (never with your hand!) and gently wiggle it in front of them. Once he is interested, a snake will generally strike at frozen prey and go through all the motions of killing it before actually eating it.
It is important to maintain a feeding schedule, making sure not to feed your snake too often or not often enough. By following a schedule, it will be easy to keep track of exactly how often your snake is receiving food and how much food each time. Hatchling corn snakes require a large amount of food, as they are developing rapidly during this time. Older specimens also generally require a significant amount of food. The most common exceptions are sick corn snakes or female snakes that are about to be bred, who may need to have their feeding amounts and frequency altered, at least for a time.
For more information, read Corn & Rat Snakes (T.F.H. Publications, Inc.).