Corn Snake Colors
More to come
Home In the Wild
Common in the Southern United States, Mexico and the Cayman islands, these snakes are beneficial at controlling rodent populations. They were often found in the corn fields of the early settlers, giving rise to the name corn snake. The wild color, “normal” is a brightly patterned burnt orange with rusty saddles outlined in black. The belly is checkered black and white, resembling maize (perhaps another clue to the origin of their name). They are crepuscular snakes, and as such are most active at dusk and dawn.
What they look like
These medium sized snakes grow to an adult length of 2 to 4 feet on average. They have a slender, yet muscular body, and their color often changes dramatically as they grow from hatchling to adult. The most common color variations sold in pet stores are normal and albinos.
Differences between males and females
Generally, females have a thicker body and grow larger as adults compared to the more slender males. The most accurate way is to have an EXPERIENCED person pop the hatchlings. Slight pressure is applied from the tail rolling towards the vent. If it is a male, the hemipenes will pop out. A second method preformed again only by a person with EXPERIENCE is probing. Small metal rods are inserted into the vent and the depth of penetration reveals if it is a male or a female. A deeper penetration is a male, as the rod enters one of the hemipenes. Popping or probing must be done by an experienced person, as a mistake could result in the destruction of the snakes sexual organs. A beginner can try this method for sexing corn snakes. First, visually the tail of a female snake narrows rapidly past the vent, a quick taper. A male has a gentler taper and a slight swelling past the vent. You can also take a shed skin and lay it out flat. A magnifying glass can help. The main part that has to be intact is from the vent down to the tip of the tail. The vent will appear as a large separation or gap, followed by two scales side by side, rather than 1 long scale as was the case further up. Now on the belly side carefully count each scale from the vent down. If the total of the two rows of scales is 130 or less, your snake is most likely a girl. If the total is above 140, it is probably a male. If the count is 130-140, who knows? This is just meant as a guide and if you plan to breed snakes, you should have them sexed by an expert.
As always, bigger housing is better, but an adult can be housed in a 20 gallon long aquarium. (Standard size for a 20 gallon long is 30 1/4 inch by 12 1/2 inch by 12 3/4 inches high) Corn snakes are excellent climbers so a secure top must be used. I like the exotera metal tops. The snap down into place and have many sizes available.
A variety of substrates can be safely be used for your corn snake. Some people use paper towels, Astroturf, aspen chips (no aromatic woods like cedar and pine as these can cause fatal reactions) CareFresh, Cyprus mulch and coco fiber. Stay away from sand as it can be accidentally ingested and cause fatal impactions. I use Cyprus mulch because it is inexpensive and can be easily spot cleaned when the snake goes to the bathroom. Simply grab a Kleenex and scoop out the poop. Add a handful of mulch if needed.
Temperature and Heating
As with most snakes, corn snakes need a temperature gradient. There should be a range of 75 °F to 85°F with the warmer temperature necessary for proper digestion. This can be accomplished in 2 easy ways. An under tank heater or a human heat pad can be used under the tank. Remember to monitor the temperature with an accurate thermometer and invest in a dimmer switch if needed. Another way to maintain temperature is with a heat lamp on one side of the tank. Again, a thermometer should be in place to check the temperatures. As long as the room is not too cold, the light can be shut off at night.
Corn snakes need constant access to fresh water. A good sized fairly shallow dish of water should be available at all times. The corn snake will occasionally soak in the water dish when they are due to shed their skin. They will often defecate in their water dish and it should be removed and cleaned before being refilled and put back in.
Corn snakes love to climb and are a pleasure to watch while they explore. Fake vines and branches give them lots of grip and provide necessary exercise.
Snakes also need to feel secure, so ensure there are plenty of hiding spots, on both the cool end and the warm end. You can be creative and make hides that suit your décor. Just make sure they are non toxic.
I find most success when I feed my corn snakes in the evening around 7pm or in the morning around 7am. Hatchling snakes should be fed pinky mice, but switch them over to pink rats as soon as they can handle the size. Pinky rats are better nutrition for them. They should be fed at least once a week. I feed my hatchlings twice a week, Saturdays and Wednesdays. Adult snakes can be fed once a week or every 10 days. You should choose a snake that is already feeding on frozen thawed food, as it can be difficult and stressful to switch a snake over if they are used to only live food. As the snake grows, increase the size of its food. The food item should be approximately the same width around as your snake. Example
As the snake grows, the top layer of skin will be sloughed off. A corn snake sheds approximately once a month. The eyes will become a milky blue color and the skin will appear drab. You should start lightly misting your snake daily during this time. It will help with the shedding process. The eyes will eventually clear and normally within 2 days of that, the snake will shed. Some snakes will refuse food during this time. Also avoid handling the snake unless you’re going to let it soak in warm water. Shed times make the snake feel more vulnerable and a normally docile pet can strike out in fear at this time.