The Corn SnakeElaphe guttata Mr. Tim Black April 2006
Scientific Classification Information • Kingdom: Animalia • Phylum: Chordata • Subphylum: Vertebrata • Class: Reptilia • Order: Squamata • Suborder: Serpentes • Family: Colubridae • Genus: Elaphe • Species: Elaphe guttata
Why Is It Called a Corn Snake? Southern farmers in the U.S. used to store harvested ears of corn in a wood frame or log building called a crib. Rats and mice came to the corncrib to feed on the corn, and corn snakes came to feed on the rodents. The rafters and logs in the barn provided a perfect habitat, where the snakes could climb and hide, waiting to feed on the pesky rodents.
The corn snake also goes by other names. For instance,… • Red Rat Snake • Chicken Snake
The Corn Snake’s Habitat • Pinelands and wooded groves • Hardwood hammocks • Rocky hillsides • Meadowlands • Swamps • Agricultural fields and barns • Residential areas
Geographic Range of the Corn Snake Corn snakes may be found in the eastern United States from southern New Jersey south through Florida, west into Louisiana and parts of Kentucky. However, corn snakes are most abundant in Florida and the southeastern U.S.
Physical Description • Non-venomous (harmless) • Average adult size is 18-44 inches (45.7 – 111.7 cm), and the record is 72 inches (182.8 cm) • Adults are orangish-brown with black bordered orange, red, or brownish blotches. • Juveniles are similar in appearance to adults, but may be more brownish in coloration. • Color variation depends on age and region of country where snake is found.
Corn Snake’s Diet in the Wild • Young hatchlings feed on lizards and tree frogs. • Adults feed on larger prey, such as mice, rats, birds, and bats. • Corn snakes are constrictors.
Reproduction and Gestation • Breeding season from March to May. • Clutch of 10 to 30 eggs deposited in late May to July. They hatch sometime July to September. • Eggs laid in rotting stumps, piles of decaying vegetation, or other similar locations where there is sufficient heat and humidity to incubate them. • Adult snakes don’t care for the eggs. • Once laid, gestation period of eggs is 60-65 days.
Reproduction and Gestation • Hatchlings are 10 to 15 inches (28 to 38 cm) long and mature in 18 to 36 months.
Life Span of the Corn Snake The life span of the corn snake is up to 23 years in captivity, but is generally much less in the wild.
Fun Fact #1 The name “corn snake” is believed to have originated from the similarity of the markings on the belly to the checkered pattern of kernels or maize or Indian corn.
Fun Fact #2 The corn snake was one of the first snakes to be kept in captivity. Corn snakes have generally good temperament and rarely bite when in captivity. They are easy to keep as pets, because the mice they eat are easy to obtain.
Resources • Zim, Herbert S., and Hobart Smith. Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Golden Press, 1956. • “LHS Biology Lab: Corn Snakes.” Lawrence Hall of Science. 5 April 2006 <www.lawrencehallofscience.org/Biolab wlhcornsnake.html>. • “Reptile and Amphibian Fact Sheets.” Smithsonian National Zoological Park. 4 April 2006 <www.nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ReptilesAmphibians /Facts/FactSheets/Cornsnake.cfm>.