Corn Snake Rat Snake?

Description: A fairly large — 76-122 cm (30 48 in) — relatively slender snake that is orange, reddish brown, brown, or gray with 27-40 squarish black-margined brown or reddish blotches. The belly is checkered with white and black markings, resembling a piano keyboard or Indian corn. Other distinguishing characteristics include a spear-shaped blotch on top of the head, pointing toward the nose, black stripes on either side of the bottom of the tail, smooth scales, and a stripe extending from the back of the eye past the corner of the jaw. Corn snakes are often mistaken for venomous copperheads. Copperheads, however, have hourglass-shaped (rather than square) blotches, and are generally browner than corn snakes.

What is the difference between a corn snake and a rat snake?

The corn snake can be distinguished from other rat snakes and from kingsnakes by the stripe extending from the back of its eye past the corner of its jaw, plus the large, bold black and white checkerboard pattern on its belly.

Can corn snakes and rat snakes breed?

It was once considered a subspecies named Elaphe obsoleta williamsi, although now it is thought to be a cross between the gray and yellow rat snakes. … Gray rat snakes have been successfully bred with the corn snake, producing a “Frosted Creamsicle” when crossed with the albino corn snake gene.

Why are corn snakes called rat snakes?

Rat snakes are medium-to-large, nonvenomous snakes that kill by constriction. They pose no threat to humans. … One species of rat snake is the corn snake, a docile animal and popular pet. As their name implies, rats are one of their favorite foods.

Most adult cornsnakes are about 30-48 inches (76-122 cm) in total length. Adults are orangish-brown with black bordered orange, red, or brownish blotches. There is a spear-shaped pattern on the head and neck. Juveniles are similar in appearance to adults, but they may be more brownish in coloration.

Adults and juveniles of this species are often found in suburban neighborhoods where development encroaches into favorable habitats. However, if they are cornered, both juveniles and adults will take an S-shaped posture and strike at the attacker while rapidly vibrating the tip of the tail, which produces a buzzing sound in leaf litter.

In Florida, females lay around 3-40 white elongate eggs, which typically hatch between August and September. They are commonly found under rocks and logs and in trees coiled under bark and within palm fronds. Red Cornsnakes are extremely beneficial to people because they prey heavily on many species that are considered pests.

In fact, the name Cornsnake is a holdover from the days when southern farmers stored harvested ears of corn in a wood frame or log building called a crib. It is hard to imagine a better man-made habitat, with rafters and logs on which the snakes could climb and hide, and they were paid for using it by eating the pesky rodents.

The corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus) is a North American species of rat snake that subdues its small prey by constriction.[4][5] It is found throughout the southeastern and central United States. Though superficially resembling the venomous copperhead and often killed as a result of this mistaken identity, corn snakes lack functional venom and are harmless. Corn snakes are beneficial to humans [6] by helping to control populations of wild rodent pests that damage crops and spread disease.[7]

The latter has since been split off as its own species ( P. emoryi ), but is still occasionally treated as a subspecies of the corn snake by hobbyists. Wild corn snakes prefer habitats such as overgrown fields, forest openings, trees, palmetto flatwoods, and abandoned or seldom-used buildings and farms, from sea level to as high as 6,000 feet.

Typically, these snakes remain on the ground until the age of four months but can ascend trees, cliffs, and other elevated surfaces. It has been found that corn snakes (along with other colubrids) reach sexual maturity by means of size, as opposed to age. Egg-laying occurs slightly more than a month after mating, with 1224 eggs deposited into a warm, moist, hidden location.

Corn snakes are temperate zone colubrids, and share a reproductive pattern were females increase their feeding during summer and fall. During the fall season corn snakes maintain a body temperatures that was 3.0 degrees Celsius higher than the surrounding environment after consuming a meal. Corns snakes demonstrate nocturnal patterns, and use the warm ground at night to thermoregulate, therefore heat mats replicate this source.

Like many species of the Colubridae , corn snakes exhibit defensive tail vibration behavior. However; a study conducted by Dr. David Holzman of the University of Rochester in 1999 found that snakes’ cognitive abilities (in specific regards to spatial learning) actually rival that of birds and rodents. [36] Holzman challenged the typical testing method that was being used by biologists to examine snakes’ navigational abilities, claiming the structure of the arena itself was biologically in favor of rodents.

He hypothesized that if the typical arena being used to test the animals was modified to cater to snake‘s innate biologically driven goals, thus providing them with problem sets that they would likely encounter in their natural environment, this would give a more accurate view of their intelligence . The study involved testing 24 captive-bred corn snakes, placing them in a wide-open tub with walls too high for them to climb out. An intense light was positioned to shine directly on the arena, exploiting the snake‘s natural aversion to bright open spaces.

Not only did they find that, when given proper incentive, the snakes exhibited an acute ability to learn and navigate their surroundings. A docile young corn snake (an introduced species) captured from the wild on the island of Nevis , West Indies, in 2009After many generations of selective breeding , captive bred corn snakes are found in a wide variety of different colors and patterns. These result from recombining the dominant and recessive genes that code for proteins involved in chromatophore development, maintenance, or function.

Normal / Carolina / Wildtype Orange with black lines around red-colored saddle markings going down their back and with black-and-white checkered bellies. Regional diversity is found in wild-caught corn snakes, the most popular being the Miami and Okeetee Phases. Miami Phase (originates in the Florida Wildtype) Usually smaller corn snakes with some specimens having highly contrasting light silver to gray ground color with red or orange saddle markings surrounded in black.

Okeetee Phase Characterized by deep red dorsal saddle marks, surrounded by very black borders on a bright orange ground color. Some on the market originate solely from selectively breeding corn snakes from the Okeetee Hunt Club. Ideal specimens are high contrast snakes with light orange to yellow background and dark orange/red saddles.

The earlier Blood Red corn snakes tended to have large clutches of smaller than average eggs that produce hard-to-feed offspring, though this is no longer the case. The inherited recessive mutation of lacking erythrin (red, yellow and orange) pigments produces a corn snake that is mostly black, gray and brown. When mature, many anerythristic type A corn snakes develop yellow on their neck regions, which is a result of the carotenoids in their diet.

Cinder Originated with Upper Keys corn snakes and, as such, are often built slimmer than most other morphs. Hypomelanistic (or Hypo for short) Carry a recessive trait that reduces the dark pigments, causing the reds, whites and oranges to become more vivid. Amelanistic striped corn snake Motley Has a clear belly and an “inverted” spotting pattern.

Aztec , Zigzag and Banded Selectively bred multigenetic morphs that are not dependent on a single gene. Snow (amelanistic + Anerythristic) As hatchlings, this color variation is composed of white and pink blotches. These corn snakes are predominantly white and tend to have yellow neck and throat regions when mature (due to carotenoid retention in their diet).

Light blotches and background colors have subtle shades of beige, ivory, pink, green or yellow. Ghost (Hypomelanistic + Anerythristic type A) Exhibit varying shades of grays and browns on a lighter background. Opal (amelanistic + Lavender) Look like Blizzard corn snakes once mature, with pink to purple highlights.

Granite (Diffused + Anerythristic) Tend to be varying shades of gray as adults, with males often having pink highlights. Scaleless corn snakes are homozygous for a recessive mutation of the gene responsible for scale development. “Phylogeographic analysis of the cornsnake (Elaphe guttata) complex as inferred from maximum likelihood and Bayesian analyses”.

Molecular Systematics and Phylogeny of Old and New World ratsnakes, Elaphe Auct., and related genera (Reptilia, Squamata, Colubridae) . “Neogene diversification and taxonomic stability in the snake tribe Lampropeltini (Serpentes: Colubridae)”. ), Hauppauge NY: Barron’s Educational Series, ISBN 978-0-7641-3407-4 ^ “Jungle Corn Snakes” .

^ Peterson Field Guide – Western Reptiles and Amphibians – 3rd Edition ^ “9 Interesting Facts About Corn Snakes” . ^ The Captive Breeding of Colubrid Snakes:
This document, written by Steven T. Osborne, was originally published as a 4 part series in the 1982 edition ( Volume 4: Number 3,4,7, & 9 ) of the San Diego Herpetological Society Newsletter. “Eliciting a predatory response in the eastern corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus) using live and inanimate sensory stimuli: implications for managing invasive populations” (PDF) .

Other common names

Cornsnake, Corn Snake, Chicken snake, Red ratsnake, Eastern Cornsnake

Basic description

Most adult cornsnakes are about 30-48 inches (76-122 cm) in total length. Adults are orangish-brown with black bordered orange, red, or brownish blotches. There is a spear-shaped pattern on the head and neck. Juveniles are similar in appearance to adults, but they may be more brownish in coloration.

Range in Florida

Cornsnakes are found throughout mainland Florida in every county. They also occur throughout the Florida Keys.

Comparison with other species

Most adult cornsnakes are about 30-48 inches (76-122 cm) in total length, with a record length recorded of 74 inches (188 cm). Adults are orangish-brown with black bordered orange, red, or brownish blotches. The belly is usually a black and white checkerboard pattern, though orange may also be present. The underside of the tail has two black stripes. There is a spear-shaped pattern on the head and neck. The scales are weakly keeled, and there are 27-29 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The pupil is round. Juveniles are similar in appearance to adults, but they may be more brownish in coloration.Cornsnakes are commonly found in pinelands, hardwood hammocks, swamps, and agricultural fields. Adults and juveniles of this species are often found in suburban neighborhoods where development encroaches into favorable habitats.When approached, cornsnakes may either flee for shelter or remain motionless to avoid detection. However, if they are cornered, both juveniles and adults will take an S-shaped posture and strike at the attacker while rapidly vibrating the tip of the tail, which produces a buzzing sound in leaf litter. If grabbed or pinned, they may bite the attacker. But these snakes typically calm down quickly if held. Nonetheless, these snakes are not aggressive, and striking is only used in defense as a last resort.Cornsnakes commonly feed on lizards, frogs, rodents, and birds and their eggs. Cornsnakes constrict larger prey with coils of their body, but they often swallow smaller prey alive.In Florida, females lay around 3-40 white elongate eggs, which typically hatch between August and September. The eggs are often laid in mammal burrows, loose debris, and rotting logs.No subspecies are currently recognized in Florida.Red Cornsnakes are primarily nocturnal (active at night). They are both terrestrial and extremely good climbers. They are commonly found under rocks and logs and in trees coiled under bark and within palm fronds.Red Cornsnakes are extremely beneficial to people because they prey heavily on many species that are considered pests. In fact, the name “Cornsnake” is a holdover from the days when southern farmers stored harvested ears of corn in a wood frame or log building called a crib. Rats and mice came to the corn crib to feed on the corn, and cornsnakes came to feed on the rodents. It is hard to imagine a better man-made habitat, with rafters and logs on which the snakes could climb and hide, and they were paid for using it by eating the pesky rodents.County data coming soon.If you have a new or interesting observation for this species, please email the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum.Ernst, C.H. and E.M. Ernst. 2003.Krysko, K.L., K.M. Enge, and P.E. Moler. 2019.Powell, R., R. Conant, and J.T. Collins. 2016.

Share your observations

You can help scientists better understand the biology and distribution of this species by sharing your observations. Send photos or videos of interesting observations, along with associated information, by emailing the herpetology staff at the Florida Museum for documentation in the Museum’s Herpetology Master Database. You can also post your observations on iNaturalist.

Corn snake

TheThe corn snake is named for the species’ regular presence near grain stores, where it preys on mice and rats that eat harvested corn (maize).

Description[edit]

Adult corn snakes have a body length of 61–182 cm (2.00–5.97 ft).

Taxonomy[edit]

Until 2002, the corn snake was considered to have two subspecies: the nominate subspecies (

Natural habitat[edit]

Wild corn snakes prefer habitats such as overgrown fields, forest openings, trees, palmetto flatwoods, and abandoned or seldom-used buildings and farms, from sea level to as high as 6,000 feet. Typically, these snakes remain on the ground until the age of four months but can ascend trees, cliffs, and other elevated surfaces.In colder regions, snakes brumate during winter. However, in the more temperate climate along the coast, they shelter in rock crevices and logs during cold weather; they also can find shelter in small, closed spaces, such as under a house, and come out on warm days to soak up the heat of the sun. During cold weather, snakes are less active, so they hunt less.

Reproduction[edit]

It has been found that corn snakes (along with other colubrids) reach sexual maturity by means of size, as opposed to age.Corn snakes are relatively easy to breed. Although not necessary, they are usually put through a cooling (also known as brumation) period that takes 60–90 days to get them ready for breeding. Corn snakes brumate around 10 to 16 °C (50 to 61 °F) in a place where they cannot be disturbed and with little sunlight.Corn snakes usually breed shortly after the winter cooling. The male courts the female primarily with tactile and chemical cues, then everts one of his hemipenes, inserts it into the female, and ejaculates his sperm. If the female is ovulating, the eggs will be fertilized and she will begin sequestering nutrients into the eggs, then secreting a shell.Egg-laying occurs slightly more than a month after mating, with 12–24 eggs deposited into a warm, moist, hidden location. Once laid, the adult snake abandons the eggs and does not return to them. The eggs are oblong with leathery, flexible shells. About 10 weeks after laying, the young snakes use a specialized scale called an egg tooth to slice slits in the egg shell, from which they emerge at about 5 in long.Reproduction in captivity has to be done correctly so the clutch’s mortality rate decreases. This includes accurate sexing, establishing proper pre-breeding conditioning, and timely pairing of adults. Corn snakes are temperate zone colubrids, and share a reproductive pattern were females increase their feeding during summer and fall. This is only applies to corn snakes that are sexually mature, which typically indicates the snake is around 75 cm (30 inches) in length or weight 250 g.

Diet[edit]

Like all snakes, corn snakes are carnivorous and, in the wild, they eat every few days. While most corn snakes eat small rodents, such as the white-footed mouse, they may also eat other reptiles, or amphibians, or climb trees to find unguarded bird eggs.Seasons play a large role in the thermal regulation patterns of corn snakes, which is the main mechanism of digestion for snakes. During the fall season corn snakes maintain a body temperatures that was 3.0 degrees Celsius higher than the surrounding environment after consuming a meal.American “rat snakes”, such as

Intelligence and behavior[edit]

Like many species of the Colubridae, corn snakes exhibit defensive tail vibration behavior.However; a study conducted by Dr. David Holzman of the University of Rochester in 1999 found that snakes’ cognitive abilities (in specific regards to spatial learning) actually rival that of birds and rodents.The study involved testing 24 captive-bred corn snakes, placing them in a wide-open tub with walls too high for them to climb out. Eight holes were cut out underneath, with one hole leading to a shelter. An intense light was positioned to shine directly on the arena, exploiting the snake‘s natural aversion to bright open spaces. This provided a biologically meaningful objective for the snakes: to seek out cozy dark shelter.Not only did they find that, when given proper incentive, the snakes exhibited an acute ability to learn and navigate their surroundings. They also found snakes rely on their sense of vision much more than many herpetologists had previously assumed. They did, however, find that younger snakes were able to more quickly locate the holes than older snakes, as the younger snakes were more resourceful in their application of senses – where the older snakes more heavily relied on their sense of sight.

In captivity[edit]

Corn snakes are one of the most popular types of snakes to keep in captivity or as pets, second only to the ball python. However, they are the most popular pet snake in Brazil. Their size, calm temperament, and ease of care contribute to this popularity. Captive corn snakes tolerate being handled by their owners, even for extended periods.

Variations[edit]

After many generations of selective breeding, captive bred corn snakes are found in a wide variety of different colors and patterns. These result from recombining the dominant and recessive genes that code for proteins involved in chromatophore development, maintenance, or function. New variations, or morphs, become available every year as breeders gain a better understanding of the genetics involved.