Corn snakes are among the most popular pets in the US. They’re easy to care for and accept being handled. If you’re considering getting one of these magnificent snakes, you’d better know some information about them. Here are 12 amazing facts about corn snakes!
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1. Corn snakes got their name from their color
It’s usually believed that this snake is named after their location which is near cornfields. However, it’s not true. Cornfields are not the favorite habitat for the corn snake. This snake got its name from their appearance.
Early settlers notice that the colors and pattern of the snake is similar to the black and red colored kernels of the Indian corn. Over time, the name is fixed on the animal.
2. They are often mistaken for copperheads
Corn snakes are lengthy and thin, their average full size is 3-4 feet long. However, they can reach up to the size of 6 feet in length. They will stop growing at the age of 2 – 3 years old. This is the time they become fully grown.
Corn snakes are popular due to their colorful and unusual appearance. They feature yellowish-brown or orange scales with red spots. That’s why they are sometimes called red rat snakes. These spots might also be orange and surrounded by black patterns.
Under their belly, you’ll see the black and white checkered pattern. This is the most intriguing feature of the corn snakes. Adults also have a distinctive spear-like pattern on the top of their heads.
They have a turtle-like head and round-pupil eyes which often match their coloration. Newborn juveniles are browner than their parents and gradually acquire brighter patterns and colors.
Corn snakes are usually mistaken for the venomous copperhead snake because they have kind of similar looks. However, they can be distinguished. You can identify a corn snake with its thin frame and enlarged pupils located on their head. They are more colorful than copperheads. On the other hand, copperhead snakes feature a bigger build and have dark hourglass figure on the back.
Nevertheless, we frequently confuse these two snakes from a distance or when we freak out. Because of this false identity, humans frequently kill harmless corn snakes.
3. They can reproduce with different snake species
Among many snake species in the world, corn snakes are the most kept and bred species in captivity. Mexican corn snakes, Keys corn snakes, and Slowinski’s corn snakes are some of the popular types.
Because of their popularity, people have bred them to generate a variety of color patterns, including red, yellow, black, orange, and white. Breeders are continually developing new color morphs and variants. The number of corn snake morphs has gone up to 800. However, not all of them are beautiful.
The two main factors that decide the appearance of a snake are the pattern and the color. Color morphs are more popular than pattern morphs.
– Patterns: motley/striped, banded, zipper/zigzag, plain, and patterness
– Colors: lavender, hypomelasism, caramel, blue, anerythrism, and piebaldism
Some examples of morphs include: reverse okeetee, amelanistic, anerythristic, crimson, eastern, ghost motley, leucistic, jungle, opal, peppermint, scaleless, palmetto, miami phase, sunkissed, pink, coral, fancy, tessera, normal, pewter, strawberry, sunglow, bubblegum, classic, amber, jet black, etc.
4. They are non-venomous
This snake species is one of the most peaceful, friendly, and docile reptiles. They do not tend to bite. But if they do, it’s not dangerous at all. These snakes don’t have fangs and they are not venomous. Corn snakes just emit a foul-smelling odor when biting.
These reptiles are considerably more prone to escape than fight. If cornered, they will coil up, make an S shape with their head and neck, and attack. To frighten predators, they rattle their tails against the ground, generating a rattling sound similar to rattlesnakes. It is a method of deterring predators by making them believe they are venomous.
Biting is the last option for corn snakes to defend themselves. They won’t hesitate to bite. But their bite won’t hurt you much, it just takes a drop of blood at most, whether the snakes are adults or juveniles.
Corn snakes are carnivorous, feeding on tiny rodents, amphibians, reptiles, and small birds. They also crawl up trees to look for unprotected bird eggs. Fish and insects (worms or crickets) are not their natural diet.
Because of weak vision, these creatures use their sense of smell to navigate their environments. They will flick their tongues back and forth to taste and smell the air.
Since they are non-venomous, corn snakes kill their prey by constricting them, like pythons and boas. They will wrap around the prey and slowly compress it until the victim can breathe anymore. The snake eats the victim entire, often the head first.
Corn snakes can go without food for days, even up to a week. This means that they can indefinitely suffocate the prey until it surrenders.
These reptiles do not require daily feeding as pets. Hatchlings should be fed every 5 to 7 days, and juveniles should be fed every 7 to 10 days.
6. They are beneficial to humans
Many people don’t know that corn snakes can be highly beneficial to humans. They are fierce hunters who can keep the populations of the tiny animals they eat under control, such as rats and mice. This helps reduce crop damage and disease spread.
These snakes frequently hide under porches and other sites where mice congregate around houses. Allowing them to stay is a great method to keep mice out of your basement.
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Corn snakes are widespread throughout the Southeastern US, from New Jersey to the Florida Keys, and even as far as Utah. Kentucky has a few isolated populations. They are also found on various Caribbean islands.
Overgrown fields, wooded regions, forests, trees, and disused or seldom-used structures and farms are preferred natural habitats for these snakes. They also live in rocky places as well as in tropical hammocks.
The illegal pet trade has enabled corn snakes to spread outside their native North American habitats and establish new colonies, like Australia. The diverse environments of this country are so appropriate for this breed that the snake is listed as an invasive species here. Despite being captured, it appears that the snake species still survive well in Australia.
The breeding season of corn snakes is often in spring, from April to June. Males reach sexual maturity at around two years old, whereas females reach sexual maturity at around three years but must be at least three feet (91 cm) long and weigh 0.6 pounds (300 g).
Males use hormonal signals and tactile cues to woo females throughout the reproductive process. Males may pursue females for hours in hopes of mating. The females will go through a gestation period lasting for 60-65 days and lay eggs in summer (July).
They will lay 10 to 30 oblong eggs in a suitable location with enough heat and moisture to incubate them. This could be heaps of decaying foliage, a rotting log, or similar places. As solitary creatures, the females have no maternal tendencies. They leave after laying eggs and do not come back.
The eggs hatch after 65 days at 85oF. The babies use their egg tooth which is a specialized scale to slit the eggshell and emerge. Juveniles commonly graze on little lizards and frogs until they are strong enough to conquer bigger food.
Because of multiple predators and the lack of parental protection, not many young snakes can live to adulthood. They seldom live longer than 8 years in the wild. However, their lifespan in captivity is longer, they can survive for up to 23 years.
9. They are secretive loners
Corn snakes are solitary animals, except for the mating season. They like to be alone so they can hunt and hide easily.
These snakes are well-known for their secrecy. They spend a lot of time underground in rodent burrows. During the day, you can find them lurking behind rocks, logs, other debris, and loose bark.
These snakes normally stay on the ground until the age of 4 months. When older than that, the snake will climb trees, cliffs, and other high surfaces. They can be found napping on trees. The species even ascend a tree near an empty structure to enter it and hunt mice or rats.
These snakes can be both diurnal and nocturnal. In the summer when the weather is warmer, they will be most active at night. Some choose to hunt at night in order to avoid their usual predators.
The corn snake is among the laziest animals in the world. They can sleep for up to 16 hours every day.
In cold months, they hunt less and brumate more. Brumation is comparable to hibernation, however, it is used for reptiles. In the brumation period, they just wake up to take water. On the other hand, corn snakes in areas where the winter is not so cold will go out and bask in the sunlight.
10. They shed their eyelids
This snake species lack eyelids. They get a skin layer that protects and moisturizes their eyes instead. They can shed this layer in the same way as they shed their body skin. This helps them see clearer because the layer can reduce their capacity to see well when getting dry and gradually dusty with time.
11. They are listed as a special concern
Corn snakes are classified as Least Concern on the IUCN red list. These species are found in large numbers throughout Florida and they are not at serious risk of extinction.
However, in Florida, these snakes suffer a multitude of challenges that are driving their populations to plummet. The risks are habitat loss, unlawful capture for pet purposes, and global warming.
Because the numbers are decreasing, Florida authority has placed them on a list of special concerns. This will help to protect them.
12. They make good pets
Corn snakes are one of the most popular snake pets. They do not tend to bite, defecate, or constrict when stressed. They’re easy to maintain and like being handled, even for a long time. They are suitable for inexperienced beginners.
If you decide to buy a corn snake as a pet:
– Make sure you buy your snake from a reliable breeder. Corn snakes can be infected with viruses and parasites such as hookworms, which can be lethal to your snake. Corn snake price can vary, from $30 – $700. Other rare morphs can cost you up to $1000.
– Check if you can have this species as a pet. In Georgia, it’s illegal to own a corn snake. In New Jersey, you can only buy some variants like snow, butter, creamsicle, albino, lavender, candy cane, and blizzard.
– Don’t house two snakes together in the same enclosure because they might eat each other.
– Read more to know how to take care of a corn snake, from tank setup (size, substrate, temperature, humidity) to feeding.