Corn Snake Facts and Care Information
Have you been on the search for the perfect starter pet but are unsure if a snake would be the right choice? Corn snakes are one of the most popular and easy to care for pet snakes found in the United States. They are known for their vibrant coloring and brilliant patterns, these attractive snakes are also very docile and easy to breed as well. Another great quality of the corn snake is its size. While some other pet snakes can grow to be much more than 6 feet long, adult corn snakes are just right—with a build that is large enough for regular handling without being overwhelming. Whether you’re a novice snake owner or have been caring for these amazing animals for decades, adding a corn snake to your household can be a fun and rewarding experience.
What is a Corn Snake?
The corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus) is also sometimes referred to as the red rat snake and is native to North America. While previously classified along with common rat snakes, they are more closely related to the equally popular king snake. As a constrictor snake, they will wrap their bodies around anything that they think of as a threat. Typically, corn snakes are under 6 feet long and display intricate patterns on their skin that are designed to help them blend in with their natural surroundings in the wild.
While wild-caught corn snakes can be adapted as pets, owners have a much better chance of raising healthy and parasite-free snakes if they purchase them from trusted breeders. Additionally, when you source corn snakes from breeders, your chances of getting a snake that has beautiful coloring and pattern morphs greatly increases. Corn snakes for sale can be found in online reptile shops, local pet shops, directly from breeders, or at reptile expos like our own Reptile Super Show.
Interesting Facts About the Corn Snake
Doing your research before bringing a pet snake home is the best way to ensure an easy transition for you and your new pet. When properly cared for, corn snakes can live well into their 20s, making the adoption process a very serious commitment. To make sure that the beautiful and friendly corn snake is the right reptile choice for you, keep reading.
What’s in a Name?
There are a few different theories as to how the corn snake got its name. Some believe that the corn snake got its name from the fact that they are often found hiding in corn and other common crop fields across the country. Others think that the name comes from the snake’s belly, which is said to look similar to the kernel pattern found on Indian corn. Another theory about their name origin is related to the fact that corn snakes very often make barns their home, where corn and other grains are stored.
Corn Snake Appearance
Corn snakes are slender, non-venomous snakes that typically range in length from 2 feet up to 6 feet. Their base color can range from brown to a reddish-orange color, and they are usually speckled with large red blotches that are lined with black. Their distinctive pattern also continues all the way down their backs. Unfortunately, because of their coloring, many corn snakes that are found in the wild are confused with the venomous copperhead snakes and killed. Because of their popularity as pets, captive corn snakes have been bred to create many different color morphs, including albino corn snakes.
The corn snake can be found throughout the southeastern and central United States, covering ground from New Jersey to Florida and west out into Louisiana and Kentucky. Over the years, the species has also been successfully introduced into several Caribbean islands including the Bahamas, US Virgin Islands, and Grand Cayman. It is common to find corn snakes living in a variety of natural habitats including forest openings, rocky hillsides, woodlands, overgrown fields, woodlands, and abandoned buildings.
Creating a Comfortable Home Habitat
Adult captive corn snakes will enjoy the best quality of life with a reptile terrarium of at least 20-gallons. However, the bigger the snake, the bigger their habitat should be. It’s also key to remember that snakes are not social animals, so living with another snake in the same enclosure is not recommended. Intelligent and agile, the corn snake can make an escape from their tank if the opportunity presents itself. Investing in an escape-proof tank is essential.
Placing their tank near natural light is a great way to help acclimate your snake to healthy day and night cycles and makes special lighting unnecessary. However, direct sunlight can affect the internal temperature of the terrarium. Because snakes thermoregulate by moving about their habitat throughout the day, you’ll need to provide a heat source in one area of their tank and a cooler hiding area as well. This can be achieved with the addition of an under the tank heat source. Ideally, the warm end of their tank should be kept around 85 degrees Fahrenheit, with the cool area of the tank at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Owners should avoid using sand as a substrate material and instead can opt for aspen shavings for maximum absorption and comfort. Other great substrate options include cypress mulch or newspaper. Access to fresh water is also needed for optimal comfort within your corn snake’s indoor habitat. However, the dish should be placed in an area where can be changed with ease and won’t spill. Corn snakes also enjoy popular snake habitat products like climbing branches and dark, tight hiding spaces that will help them to feel safe and secure.
What Do Corn Snakes Eat?
In the wild, corn snakes primarily feed on small rodents like mice and rats. They may also snack on other small animals like frogs, lizards, birds, and bird eggs. But they do not see insects like crickets as a food source. In captivity, it is safe to feed baby corn snakes on a diet of newborn mice. As they grow, owners can gradually increase the size of their meals. For adult corn snakes, previously frozen and thawed adult mice can be eaten every few days.
Do Corn Snakes Have Any Natural Predators?
While corn snakes are generally very good at hiding and use their natural camouflage to their advantage, they do have several natural predators to fear in the wild. These include:
- Large birds and owls
- Larger snakes (like the king snake)
- Other large mammals
But possibly the biggest threat to corn snakes found in the wild are humans, who often mistake them for copperhead snakes and kill them.
Corn Snake Reproduction
Corn snakes typically breed from March to May, with males competing for female mates through ritualistic combat. After a winner prevails from a body-shoving contest he will mate with the female corn snake, who will go on to deposit a clutch of 10 to 30 eggs several weeks later, sometime in May to July.
The females work hard to find a secure and hidden location to lay their clutches, as adult corn snakes do not stay to care for their eggs. After about 60 to 70 days of gestation, the eggs will go on to hatch sometime in July through September, using an “egg tooth” to escape their shells. Hatchlings are usually born at a length of about 8 to 12 inches and go on to reach maturity anywhere from 18 to 36 months of age.
Do Corn Snakes Shed?
Corn snakes do shed their skin periodically. The beginning stages of the shedding process can typically be identified by a “milky” or blue hue to the eyes. Once the eyes appear to be clear again, the snakes should have completed shedding into their new skin. If you notice that they are shedding their skin in pieces, you may need to increase the humidity slightly in their tank. This can be achieved by adding damp moss or a damp paper towel to their cage and removing it once they’ve shed completely.
Other Fun Facts About Corn Snakes
- The corn snakeis a diurnal snake, meaning that they are active during the day.
- They are great at keeping rodent populations under control and because of this are often favored by ranchers and farmers.
- They typically live anywhere from 5 to 8 years in the wild but have been known to live up to 25 years in captivity.
- With careful training, corn snakes can be handled regularly by their owners. They are friendly and generally docile, preferring hand-over-hand contact.
Find Corn Snakes for Sale at The Reptile Super Show
Interested in discovering exotic snakes for sale near you? Be sure to check out our list of upcoming reptile shows in California this coming year! At the Reptile Super Show, we offer herpetoculturists of all ages access to a variety of different vendors and breeders. For more information on our upcoming shows, contact us online today.