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Jess's Pet Fact Files: Corn Snake

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

Name: Corn snake

Scientific Name: Pantherophis guttatus

Classification: Reptile

Lifespan: Captivity: 23 years. Wild: 12 – 18 years


Identification: Corn snakes come in a wide range of colours and patterns depending on age

and geographical area. They are mostly orange or brownish yellow with a pattern of large

red blotches and a black outline down their backs. Their bellies have distinctive rows of

alternating black and white marks, similar to a checkerboard.

Body Length: 61 – 182cm

Weight: 0.9kg


Distribution: Found throughout the south-eastern parts of the USA but greatest number

found in Florida

Habitat: Wooded groves, overgrown fields, forest openings, rocky hillside, meadowlands,

woodlots, rocky open areas, barns and abandoned buildings.


Diet: Corn snakes are carnivorous. Adults mainly eat rodents and other small

mammals but their diet can also include birds, bird eggs, lizards and bats. Young corn

snakes eat lizards, other small snakes, tree frogs and rodents.

Feeding Behaviour: Constrictors squeeze their prey before swallowing. They may

need to bite their prey to get a firm grip and then quickly coil themselves around, squeezing tightly until the prey suffocates. They swallow their food whole, usually headfirst. Some corn snakes will swallow small prey live.


Breeding Behaviour: Corn snakes are oviparous. Breeding season takes place in March to May. In late May to July the female snakes lay a clutch of 10–30 eggs in rotting stumps, piles of decaying vegetation or other similar locations with sufficient heat and humidity to incubate the eggs. The eggs hatch between July and September and measure 25-38cm long.


Conservation status: Least Concern

Predators: Foxes, opossums, skunks, bobcats, weasels and hawks.

Threats: Corn snakes are harmless but are killed by humans because they are often

mistaken for copperheads, a venomous species of snake.


Did you know: Corn snakes are popular in captivity and as a result a number of different coloured morphs have been bred.


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