Corn Snake Care Guide

Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttattus)

Difficulty: Easy

Published: September 20, 2017 Last Updated: November 5, 2020

corn snake natural distribution map

Corn snakes are a nonvenomous semi-arboreal species of snake native to the southeastern United States, parts of Mexico, and the Cayman Islands. Early European settlers encountered this species in their corn fields and corn cribs, concluding that it was eating their corn. The truth is that the snakes were actually doing those farmers a favor by eating the rodents that would otherwise be feasting on the corn, but the name “corn snake” stuck.

Corn snakes are crepuscular, which means that although they are active at night, their peak hours are around dawn and dusk. In the wild, these hours are spent hunting prey like small mammals, frogs, fish, and even birds on occasion. Because they don’t have hands to help them subdue prey, corn snakes use their teeth and powerful constricting muscles to squeeze prey until it passes out (a rather humane method, actually, and effective within seconds according to this study).

When newly hatched, corn snakes measure between 8-12” (20-30 cm), but they grow to be about 3-5’ (.9-1.5 m) as adults. 5’ may sound like a big snake, but their slender build keeps them perfectly manageable. As an additional note, males tend to be smaller than females.

Corn snakes reach adulthood around 3-4 years old, and with good care they can live long lives — 15-25 years. Some have lived as long as 30!

Please note that corn snakes are illegal or restricted to keep as pets in certain states within the United States. Please check your local laws before buying a pet corn snake or moving to a new state with one in your possession.

Captive-bred corn snakes are easy to find, even in the United States. Thanks to these breeding efforts, corn snakes can be found in a wide variety of “morphs” — genetic variations in color and pattern. Some well-known morphs include:

  • Amelanistic
  • Anerythristic
  • Okeetee
  • Snow
  • Lavender
  • Bubblegum
  • Blood red
  • Palmetto

Many experienced hobbyists take corn snake breeding as a study in snake genetics. Because of this trend (not to mention accidental breeding and other factors), the market is currently saturated unwanted corn snakes. If you are considering breeding, note that any kind of reptile breeding should be attempted with extreme caution.

Because of their simple care requirements, docile but active personality, and exceptional hardiness, corn snakes make perfect first-time snakes. Keep reading ReptiFiles’ corn snake care guide in the links below to learn everything you need to know.

Corn snake care guide - okeetee corn snake

Corn Snake Care Guide — Table of Contents:

  1. Supplies You Will Need (Shopping List)
  2. Terrarium Size & Lighting Guidelines
  3. Temperature & Humidity Requirements
  4. Substrate Options
  5. How to Decorate Your Terrarium
  6. How (and What) to Feed a Corn Snake
  7. Handling Tips
  8. Common Diseases & Other Health Info
  9. Additional Resources

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