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What is a Corn Snake?

By Alyssa Simon
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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A corn snake is a non-poisonous snake native to North America. It may be called a corn snake because its underside has a checked pattern that resembles corn kernels. These snakes are most plentiful in the southeastern part of the United States. They can often be found in the woods, where they hunt rodents, their choice of prey. They are also known to eat birds and bats.

The corn snake has two accepted scientific names. One is elaphe guttatus. Gutta is the Latin word for spotted and refers to the patterns on the snake's back, and elaphe is a Greek word for a spotted dear. The other scientific name is pantherophis guttatus. It is also commonly known as a red rat snake, pine snake and mouse snake, among other names.

Corn snakes are among the most popular snake species sold as pets. They may be bred in captivity or captured in the wild. These snakes are not presently considered to be an endangered species. They do face danger when mistaken by people for poisonous copperhead snakes. Corn snakes, like other non-poisonous snakes, may be identified by their round eyes and head.

A pet snake can live for more than 20 years. Its life in the wild is considerably shorter. They may be eaten by hawks or eagles, foxes and coyotes. This snake kills its prey by coiling its body around its victim to suffocate it. Then it will swallow it whole, usually head first.

A corn snake's coloring varies. It typically ranges from orange to brown-tinged yellow. It will also have a pattern of red markings outlined in black along its back. An adult snake is often more colorful than a young one.

Corn snakes typically range from 2 to 5 feet (0.61-1.5 meters). They are able to climb trees, but spend most of the time on the ground. This snake will usually hide from the sun and predators under rocks or logs. These snakes have also been known to enter abandoned buildings in search of rodents.

The mating season for these snakes is in the spring and early summer. The gestation period, or time span between breeding and laying eggs, is typically 60 days. The snakes lay eggs under tree stumps or other rotting vegetation. This is to ensure that there is enough warmth to incubate the eggs before they hatch. Corn snakes can lay ten to 30 eggs at a time.

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Discussion Comments
By backdraft — On Mar 05, 2012

My grandparents lived in Georgia and my sister and I used to go visit them every summer. They lived out in the country on a pretty big heavily wooded piece of land.

It was mostly great fun being at their house and playing in nature like that. But when I was 6 or 7 I saw a huge corn snake slither right by me in the woods and have been terrified of snakes ever since.

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