Eastern Corn Snake

Eastern Corn Snake



COMMON NAME: Eastern corn snake, corn snake, red rat snake, chicken snake
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Reptilia
ORDER: Squamata
FAMILY: Colubridae
GENUS SPECIES: Elaphe (the deer) guttata (speck or spot) guttata


DESCRIPTION: 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
SIZE: 75-120 cm (2.5-4 ft.); record length 1.8 m (6 ft.)
WEIGHT: No data
DIET: Small mammals, eggs, and birds
INCUBATION: 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
RANGE: Throughout Florida and southeastern United States, from southern New Jersey to Louisiana
HABITAT: Including wooded groves, rocky hills, meadows, barns, and abandoned houses
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


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.


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.