• Carrie Gardner

Magnificent, Not Corny

Updated: Feb 4, 2020

This month’s subject is a beautiful snake and so popular in the pet industry that they are the most bred snake. Why is this? Corn snakes are very docile and easy to take care of because they are from the United States. Their color is incredibly varied depending on where they live in the wild. Breeders have gone on and created thousands more of different colors, patterns, and even hybrids.

Look at that cute little face!

Corn snakes are thought to have got their names from two sources. The first was that farmers always found them on their farms and near corn crops where mice and rats were in abundance. The second is that their bellies look like corn maize. They are also known as red rat snakes, species that they are very, very close too. In the wild, they enjoy living in habitats like pine barrens, deciduous forests, overgrown fields, abandoned farms, forest openings, trees, palmetto flatwoods, and abandoned buildings or those seldom used, rocky hillsides. Those habitats that they live in are primarily in the southeast. From New Jersey down to the Florida Keys and west all the way to Texas.

This little guy is having a fun time with a toilet paper tube suspended. Great enichment!

If you would be one of those people that looked around for snakes, so of the best places to find corns are under debris piles, inside guard rails, brush. Just think like a snake. They are primarily active at dusk and dawn (called crepuscular) rather than day. It isn’t unusual, though, to see them out soaking up the rays. As I mentioned earlier, a corn snake’s colors vary by region with bright oranges, reds, blacks, browns. I’m not going to do a description, I’ll just let the photographs speak their beauty. Mating season usually happens between March to May. Females lay their 10 to 30 eggs in late May to July. She likes to find rotting stumps or decaying vegetation - any place that produces the heat to incubate the eggs. They hatch out between July and September. They are tiny, thin little newbies that can range from between eight to twelve inches. They can grow to be anywhere two to five feet, depending on localities and breeding. They are slender snakes that are quite fond of climbing walls to grab prey. Adults eat mostly mice and rats but the youngins tend to eat frogs and other salamanders, and lizards. They also enjoy eggs every once in a while and start climbing to see if they can get any. So why do these snakes make such a good pet? They’re generally very calm and like to be held. Exploring and interactive with people. They are easy to care for - 20-gallon tank works just fine and temperatures and humidities are easy to maintain since they are a North American snake. They’re also hardy, living up to 20 years (around 10 in the wild). The only thing wrong with them is that they are slender, and can fit in smaller openings. It’s important to get a tank that either locks or an aquarium with cage clamps.

A great video showing some of the many morphs.

The most fun is picking out one of the color morphs. Normal corn snakes are magnificent in their own right, but there are 775 different color or pattern morphs. There’s a lot of groovy names such as: anerythristic, albino, okeetee (found in wild), hypomelanistic, blood red, caramel, charcoal, christmas, lavender, cinder, strawberry, sunkissed, kastanie, scaleless (literally, the snake has no scales), terrazzo, masque, toffee, aurahim, blizzard, snow, butter, coral ghost, fire, ghost, granite, opal, orchid, persimmon, phantom, plasma, solar, moonstripe, aurora, candycane, blizzard, ghost, and more and more.

Corn snakes are beautiful snakes that are not only an important part of our ecology and control of disease, but they are also the most popular beginner snake and are a mainstay at reptile shows. I love going just to see the different colors. They are one of our treasures. If you see one, take a minute to behold its beauty.

There were so many beautiful photos that weren't used in the article, so here are some extras for you!!

Yes, they can climb!

This one is wiggling out of he skin.
Those first few breaths of life.
Checking out his surroundings with that tongue!
They're iddy biddy babies.

Checkered tummy.

This would be the defensive posture of a wild snake.

Any color, any pattern! These are captive bred and born morphs that you can find at any reptile show.

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