Jess's Pet Fact Files: Corn Snake
Updated: Mar 4
Name: Corn snake
Scientific Name: Pantherophis guttatus
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
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.