Eastern Corn Snake

Eastern Corn Snake

Scientific Classification

Common Name
Eastern corn snake, corn snake, red rat snake, chicken snake
Genus Species
Elaphe (the deer) guttata (speck or spot) guttata

Fast Facts

Narrow-bodied snake; usually orange and yellow with large red splotches on back; white and black checkered belly; underside of tail generally has two dark stripes; spear-shaped pattern on head and neck
75-120 cm (2.5-4 ft.); record length 1.8 m (6 ft.)
No data
Small mammals, eggs, and birds
62-65 days
Clutch Size: Up to 30 eggs
Sexual Maturity
Determined by size rather than age; most species begin to reproduce when they reach approximately half their eventual size
Life Span
Up to 23 years
Throughout Florida and southeastern United States, from southern New Jersey to Louisiana
Including wooded groves, rocky hills, meadows, barns, and abandoned houses
Global: No data
IUCN: No data
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed; subspecies Elaphe guttata rosacea listed by state of Florida as Species of Special Concern due to habitat destruction in lower Florida Keys

Fun Facts

  1. Like many reptiles, the incubation temperature of their eggs may determine the offsprings' sex; warmer temperatures usually favor males, while cool temperatures favor females.
  2. Some sources cite the origin of the common name "corn snake" as arising from the similarity of the belly markings to the checkered pattern of kernels on Indian corn. Other sources refer to the snake's association with corn cribs (structures built by farmers to store harvested ears of corn), where they would prey on rodent species scavenging the crop.
  3. Like pythons and boas, corn snakes are constrictors, which suffocate their prey.
  4. Eastern corn snakes spend much of their time underground prowling through rodent burrows.
  5. Within the pet trade, this species is frequently bred for albinism.
  6. Within the pet trade, this species is frequently bred for albinism.
  7. One way to tell the difference between corn snakes and kingsnakes is by identifying the flat belly of the corn snake as compared to the rounded belly of the kingsnake.

Ecology and Conservation

Many other important predators (i.e. birds-of-prey) feed on young snakes. This means that snakes fulfill roles as both predators and prey in regional food chains. Eastern corn snakes are also valuable in their role of curbing rodent populations, especially those near human settlement. Because rodents often live in barns and garages, this is where most humans encounter them. Unfortunately, they suffer from habitat destruction and alteration. Additionally, corn snakes are well-represented in the pet trade.


Areste, Manuel and Cebrián, Rafael. Snakes of the World. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2003.

Bauchot, Roland. Snakes: A Natural History. New York: Sterling Pub. Co. 1994. 

Coborn, John. The Atlas of Snakes of the World. New Jersey: T.F.H. Publications, inc. 1991.

Conant, Roger, and Joseph T. Collins. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1991.

Mehrtens, John M. Living Snakes of the World. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., 1987.