Corn snakes also known as Red rat snakes or chicken snakes are found in southeastern and central United States. From southern New Jersey through Florida and west Louisiana to parts of Kentucky, even they have captured from the wild in Australia and the Caribbean islands. These colorful reptiles are relative to King snakes and often mistaken as poisonous. Their name corn also doesn’t mean their eating habit. As there are such a pile of unknown facts, come and check about them.
1. Corn snakes were previously classified as Elaphe, but recently changed to Pantherophis. It is due to their close relation to King snakes rather than rat snakes. The main distinguishable feature is king snakes have a round belly whereas, the corn snakes’ belly is much flatter.
2. The name corn is not for their eating habit. Instead they are often found near the corn fields which attract their favorite meal, rodents.
Another reason for their name is their unique coloration. They have dark and white checkered patterns on their belly which do look similar to corns, not what you see in store but, kernel of Indian maize corn.
They have slender body and can reach 24 to 72 inches in length. Usually orange or dark yellow in color, they have red blotches and stripes on the back and lateral sides of the body. Color of the body depends on the habitat (it provides camouflage).
5. These snakes are not venomous, instead they are constrictors. Unfortunately, people often kill them because of their similar appearance of poisonous snakes like copperhead.
Corn snakes are diurnal animals and stay active during the day. While not hunting, they rest beneath underground burrows, under rocks or even on trees.
Being constrictors, they are strictly carnivores. Juveniles feed on lizards and frogs while, adults do hunt rodents, birds and bats.
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8. They prevent spreading of diseases and damaging of crops that are usually associated with large populations of rodents. So, people having knowledge keep these snakes to maintain rodent population.
Mating season take place from March to May. Females lay up-to 10-30 eggs which hatch after 60-65 days. But, they do not show any parental care to hatchlings. Babies are born 10-15 inches long and they need to find food for themselves from the first day of their life.
10. Like many reptiles, the incubation temperature of their eggs determine the offspring sex. Warmer temperatures usually favor males, while cooler temperatures favor females.
11. Their lifespan is about 5-8 years, but in captivity they live such long. The recorded longest living corn snake was 32 years and 3 months old when died.
These snakes are very docile yet attractive for the bright colors. They are very easy to maintain and breeders successfully created other eye catchy color mutated morphs also. There are 2 mutation known as ‘albinism‘ (pale and lighter color) and ‘anerythrism‘ (absence of red and orange). Hence, they are very popular in pet trades.
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13. Such morphs named as,
Motley – These Snakes have a motley pattern with elongated blotches on their backs. The blotches may create a ladder like pattern, or may even create a perfect stripes.
Zipper – Zipper corns have rectangular blotches that appear to be connected and split lengthwise to look like zippers.
Sunkissed – Sunkissed snakes have an unusual head pattern and rounded saddles.
Diffusion – The patterns on the sides of the snake are diffused. These snakes don’t have belly patterns.
14. These illegal pet trade is spreading them world wide. Between 2002-2014, 80 corn snakes were captured by wildlife authorities in Sydney. They have established populations in the Bahamas, Virgin Islands, and Grand Cayman. Although introducing a new species to a different ecosystem can have unforeseen side effects.
15. Corn snakes don’t have so many predators except other larger snakes. But beside predators they are often killed by humans. Fortunately this species is not endangered and least concerned.