Guest Author - Christina Borders
Written by previous editor: Christina Borders
Corn snakes are common rat snakes that naturally reside in the southeastern United States. Their most common ranges are found from North Carolina to the Florida Keys and even west into the Mississippi river area. Although less common, they can also be found in certain parts of New Jersey, Maryland, and North Eastern Virginia.
Color:Their color brightness and amount of ‘saddling’ (spots on the back bordered with black) in the wild varies with which part of the southeastern range they are found. The most common color, Okeetee- bright orange background with very distinct saddle markings, is found in areas of South Carolina. It is so common, in fact, that the name Okeetee is now used to describe any specimen with similar coloration. In the pet trade, many different color morphs have been produced making for some amazing and unusual choices for the corn snake enthusiast.
Diet:The diet of corn snakes is relatively simple and they are not very fussy eaters at all, with the exception of maybe hatchlings. Small mammals, birds and eggs, and lizards make up their diet in the wild. In captivity, corns will thrive on mice and rats. You may find that some hatchlings are a bit pickier and you may need to feed small lizards or lizard-scented mice to stimulate their appetite, but usually for no more than a few months. This shouldn’t deter the beginner as more than likely you will be purchasing an already established juvenile or adult snake. (EXTRA TIP: Corns will be more active, grow faster, and overall be more healthier if fed smaller more frequent meals, instead of feeding large meals at longer intervals. For example: Hatchlings and juveniles- 1 small mouse bi-weekly, Adults- 1 mouse or small rat once weekly. And as with all reptiles, a good rule of thumb is to never feed anything larger than the width of your snakes’ mouth.)
Activity Level:Corns are nocturnal to diurnal and are quite active. They will inhabit many different types of land, excluding swampy or extremely wet areas. Corn snakes are often found in barns, feed rooms, and silos and most likely received their name because of their tendency to hunt in cornfields where prey is most certainly abundant. They are quite good climbers, though they tend to spend the majority of their time on the ground.
In the next section we will take a look at temperature and housing requirements as well as a few other interesting facts about the beautiful corn snake.