Corn Snakes – Elaphe Guttata

Corn Snakes – Elaphe Guttata Information


Corn Snakes Species

There are 2 subspecies normally recognized

Elaphe guttata guttata — Corn Snake, Red rat snake, Red chicken snake, Eastern corn snake

Elaphe guttata emoryi — Emory Rat Snake, Western corn snake, Great Plains rat snake, Prairie rat snake
Whether the Rosy rat snake, Elaphe guttata rosacea, truly deserves subspecies status is still debatable. Modern authorities do not believe there was enough variation between it and the corn snake to give it that designation. It is still possible to find conflicting views in many books old and current.

Corn Snakes SizeCorn Snake In The Wild

2.5 – 4 feet average (Max: 6 feet)

Corn Snakes Habitat

These snakes may be found in a variety of places including pine barrens, wood groves, rocky hillsides, meadowland, along watercourses, around barnyards, and around abandoned houses.

Corn Snakes Breeding

Generally, these snakes have two breeding seasons. The first usually lasts from March – May and the second from June – July. The second breeding season is less well defined as the first and resulting clutches (if any) tend to be smaller in size.

Corn Snakes Nesting Sites

Sometimes eggs can be found in old rotten tree stumps or logs.

3 – 34 eggs may be laid, though 10-20 eggs seem to be the common average.

Corn Snakes Incubation

The incubation period is dependant on ambient temperatures. On average eggs may hatch in 50-75 days.

Corn Snakes Maturity

Maturity is reached in 2-3 years, though some males may mature in as little as 18 months.

Corn Snakes Diet

Carnivorous – feeding mostly on small rodents such as mice and rats as well as birds, lizards, and occasionally insects and amphibians. Corns should be fed only domestically raised rodents to prevent internal parasite infestations.

Corn Snakes Lifespan

Life Span average is 15 – 21 years (last known record: 32 years)

Corn Snakes SexingCorn snakes in San Luis Obispo

Sometimes the gender of a snake can be seen by looking at the underside of the tail just beyond the anal plate. In males, the tail remains stout (thick) for a good portion of the length of the tail before beginning to taper. In females, the tail tapers quickly beyond the anal plate which can make it tricky for sexing.

Corn snakes tend to be most active during the night hours.

Corn Snake Naming

The name “corn snake” may have come about not from its association with farms, barns, and corncribs, but from the similarity of the belly markings to the checkered pattern of kernels on Indian corn.

Etymology: elaphe derived from the Greek elaphos meaning “a deer”; possibly in reference to the soft texture of the snake’s skin, guttata Latin meaning “spotted” or “dappled”

Tips for Keeping Corn Snakes


Corn Snakes Enclosure

An adult corn snake will require the equivalent size of a 30-gallon aquarium or larger (if housing more than 2 snakes).  It must have a securely locking small mesh screen top or door. Snakes are known escape artists and will surprise you. Care must be taken to prevent escapes. The enclosure must have a water dish large enough for the snake to submerge itself in completely. It is preferable to have a few branches for the snake to climb on. A hide box is necessary as well in order to prevent stress. Snakes need their privacy and a place to feel safe.

Corn Snakes Substrate

The substrate you use is mainly a matter of preference. I personally keep my corn snakes at this time on aspen bedding.  Fusion carpet (the felt-like stuff) as opposed to astroturf is also suitable.

The cage temperature should have an ambient air temperature between 78 – 85 F with an 85 – 90 F basking spot provided by a heat lamp.

Corn Snakes Lighting

Corn snakes in general do not need to be provided with UV/B fluorescent lighting (this is not the same thing as a basking light). In general, the light from a basking light and the indirect light coming through windows will be sufficient.

Corn Snakes Humidity

Humidity for the most part is not overly critical for corn snakes. The average humidity of a corn snake’s cage should be in the moderate range (40-60%). About the only time humidity might become a problem is in the winter when the dry heat removes most of the ambient humidity from the air causing desert-like levels (0-33%).

Corn Snakes Feeding

Corn snakes in captivity will do perfectly fine on a diet of small rodents — usually mice. The size of the food is dependant on the size of the snake. In general, food should be no more than half again as wide as the snake’s head is.

Never feed a snake when the ambient temperature in the cage drops to 75 F or lower. The possibility of the food spoiling in the stomach is greatly increased. The snake may regurgitate food that has spoiled in the stomach. This is highly stressful for the snake and if it occurs often enough it can cause death. Spoiled food can also lead to a build up of toxins in the snake that may lead to the death of the snake.

When you have more than one snake living in the same enclosure, always separate the snakes into different containers when feeding. It is very easy for one snake to be eating and have the other snake also try to eat the same item rather than the one set aside for it. This would lead to one snake eventually devouring the other.

Do not trap wild mice or birds to feed to your snake. Avoid feeding lizards and frogs unless absolutely forced to because the snake is such a finicky eater.

Corn Snakes Breeding

A hatchling corn snake normally should be fed 2-3 pinky or fuzzy mice every week. Juveniles are usually fed 1-2 hopper or small adult mice about every 7-10 days. Adults are fed 1-2 adult mice about every 10-14 days.
Smaller, but more frequent feedings is much easier to digest than a single large meal. This is best achieved by spacing your snake’s meal out rather than providing it all in one sitting. Feed part of the amount on one day and the other half a couple of days later.


Water should be changed every couple of days. If the snake has fouled it then it needs to be cleaned immediately. The substrate should be cleaned and/or replaced whenever the snake has defecated. The entire cage should be completely cleaned out and disinfected on a monthly basis.


This moderately sized, normally docile snake is considered a good beginner snake.

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