A corn snake vivarium needs the following 7 items: A glass or plastic terrarium, flooring or bedding of some kind, a heat source to regulate the temperature, a thermostat and humidity gauge, a hide box that your snake can use as its home, a water bowl for your snake to drink out of and bathe in, and (of course)… a CORN SNAKE!

Setting Up A Corn Snake Vivarium: Step-By-Step

The corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus) is a North American species of rat snake that subdues its prey by constriction (or wrapping its body around the prey until it suffocates or is crushed to death). The corn snake is found throughout the southeastern and central United States and is popular as a pet because of their docile nature, reluctance to bite, moderate adult size, attractive pattern, and the fact that they are pretty easy to care for. Because many corn snakes appear similar in nature to the venomous copperhead and other dangerous snakes, they are often killed as a result of this mistaken identity. But the truth is, corn snakes are harmless and are actually quite beneficial to human beings – as they kill and eat small rodents that might otherwise overrun a house, farmland or commercial areas.

three corn snakes of different colors

The corn snake got its name because it frequently makes its home near grain stores, where it preys on mice and rats that eat farmed corn. Some information sources maintain that the corn snake got its name because of the the distinctive, nearly-checkered pattern of scales on the snake’s belly which resembles the kernels of corn you might see when eating corn on the cob.

Corn snakes are one of the most popular types of snakes to keep in captivity or as pets. Their size, calm temperament, and ease of care contribute to the reason corn snakes are so popular. Plus, captive corn snakes can tolerate being handled by their owners – even for extended periods of time.  A corn snake’s space requirements are low since a medium-sized corn snake vivarium provides enough room for a full grown snake, whereas similar snakes of similar size often times require much larger terrariums. Corn snakes enjoy hiding and burrowing – which is why it’s important to equip your pet corn snake with a loose bedding (such as Aspen wood shavings or newspaper) and one or more hide boxes.

Books About Corn Snakes

Raising a healthy corn snake begins with maintaining a healthy environment inside of its vivarium. Daily maintenance should consist of cleaning and replacing your snake’s water bowl – as well as cleaning or replacing any soiled flooring or substrate. To learn more about caring for your corn snake, we recommend you read one or more of the following corn snake care manuals:

Corn Snakes In Captivity
Corn Snake Viviarum Book
Corn and Rat Snakes
Best Corn Snakes Care Manual
The Corn Snake

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Using these manuals, you will learn that how to care for your corn snake, what size environment it needs, what types of foods it likes to eat, how to clean your corn snake vivarium, and a whole lot more.

In regards to cleaning your corn snake terrarium, please keep in mind that your vivarium should be thoroughly cleansed and disinfected every other week – or as needed. Use a five-percent bleach solution to clean everything within the habitat, but make sure you rinse everything thoroughly. You don’t want any smell or chemicals to be left inside the cage – otherwise you risk killing your pet snake. After cleaning the habitat or handling your corn snake, be sure to always wash your hands with soap and water.

For more information on owning and caring for a corn snake, be sure to read one or more of the five books above. These books will walk you from corn snake pet care ownership – from beginning to end. From buying your first corn snake, to how to build a corn snake vivarium, to how to breed corn snakes, and everything in between.

How Much Space Does A Corn Snake Need?

Adult corn snakes have a body length of 61–182 centimeters (2.00–5.97 ft). In the wild, they usually live around 6–8 years, but in captivity a corn snake can live to an age of 23 years or more. Corn snakes are easily differentiated from Copperhead snakes by their brighter colors, slender build and lack of heat-sensing pits on their head.

Wild corn snakes prefer habitats such as overgrown fields, forest openings, trees, palmetto flatwoods and abandoned or seldom-used buildings and farms… and they are from at elevations as low as sea level to as high as 6,000 feet. Corn snakes typically remain on the ground until the age of 4 months old but can ascend trees, cliffs and other elevated surfaces after that time. Corn snakes are usually found in the southeastern and central United States – ranging from New Jersey to the Florida Keys and as far west as Texas.

In colder regions, corn snakes hibernate during the wintertime. However, in the more temperate climates along the coast, corn snakes will shelter in rock crevices and logs during cold weather, and they will come out on warm days to soak up the heat of the sun.

corn snake

Corn snakes are relatively easy to breed. Although not entirely necessary, they are usually put through a cooling process (known as brumation) that takes about 60 – 90 days. The brumation period is to get them ready for breeding and to tell them that its time to reproduce. Corn snakes brumate at around 10 to 16 °C (50 to 61 °F) in a place where they can not get disturbed and are usually given very little sunlight during this time.

Corn snakes usually breed shortly after the winter cooling. The male courts the female 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 corn snake abandons the eggs and does not return to them. The eggs are oblong with a leathery, flexible shell. Approximately 10 weeks after laying, the baby snakes use a specialized scale called an egg tooth to slice slits in the egg shell, from which they emerge at about 5 inches in length.

What Type of Terrarium Is Best For A Corn Snake?

No matter what style of containment system you use, a tight-fitting, heavily weighted-down lid, or other method of securely clothing it is mandatory to prevent escapes. Corn snake’ climbing agility and expertise at squeezing out of tiny cracks and openings are near legendary. Small ones can even scale class by partially adhering to it when wet. Whenever they do escape, they seem to remember how they managed it the first time. The next occurrence will usually take place in one-tenth the time it to the snake to figure it out the first time if you don’t immediately correct the situation and secure the vivarium.

Housing corn snakes individually is the time-honored method for observation. This is especially important during the first few months of life. Separation ensures getting to know the personality quirks of each specimen in your care so you are able to make suitable husbandry adjustments for their individual needs.

You can also keep track of shedding and other life functions when you don’t have to guess which of multiple cage inhabitants is responsible for leaving each clue. Just because corn snakes appear to enjoy cuddling up together when multiple snakes are temporarily housed together, it doesn’t mean their companionship is necessary for them to be comfortable. Rather than inferring they are combating loneliness, it’s really a case of the snakes ending up sharing the same best spot offering shelter and warmth. Even just entwining in each others’ coils is preferable to lying exposed in the open when no other hiding option exists.

In the video above you see that they are recommending a ZooMed Snake Kit as the ideal home for a corn snake, and we happen to agree that this beginner snake kit is the ideal starter kit for any corn snake owner. The kit comes with a Mini Deep Dome Lamp Fixture, Daylight Blue Reptile Heat Bulb, a bag of Aspen Snake bedding, an Analog Reptile Thermometer and everything you need for your pet snake – except for the snake itself, of course!

Glass tanks are the most common type of enclosure for a corn snake – especially if you have just one or two snakes that you are trying to house. Glass snake enclosure are available in most pet stores, at most reptile expos, and can also be easily purchased online and shipped to your home (although some glass snake terrariums may arrived broken with shipped through the mail).

Glass corn snake tanks are also fairly inexpensive when compared with some of the other types of snake cages, which need to be regularly cleaned and disinfected. A popular glass cage readily available in most pet and specialty stores is the Zilla 20 Gallon Critter Cage. This glass enclosure features a sliding screen top with an attachment that can accommodate a pin style lock or even a small padlock if necessary. These tops are a good choice when dealing with a pet snake in a household with small children – to prevent any accidental or unsupervised interaction.

While glass vivariums are ideal for keeping a corn snake, you will discover that many glass aquariums are equipped with a screen top or ceiling. Screen tops are specifically used with glass enclosures and provide excellent ventilation and airflow for your snake. However, these same characteristics can make it difficult to maintain the correct environment for your pet corn snake. A screen top allows for the constant change of conditions between the snake’s environment and the room in which the corn snake vivarium is kept. This can mean necessary heat and humidity escaping from the corn snake’s environment and potential sub-optimum temperatures and humidity within the tank.

white horizontal barLuckily, the solution to this problem is simple: most snake owners simple eliminate this problem by placing a piece of Plexiglass over a portion of the top of their vivarium, which works to prevent heat and humidity loss from within.

Another factor to keep in mind when using a glass tank or corn snake vivarium is the fact that corn snakes like to burrow and dig, and the high-visibility of a glass enclosure can be stressful and intimidating to a corn snake, who prefers to hide, rather than be constantly exposed. This is why it’s a good idea to utilize one or more hide boxes within your glass enclosure to ensure that the corn snake has the opportunity to hide if it feels threatened or shy. For larger corn snake, be sure to provide a choice of hide locations within your vivarium – one in a heated warmer end and another in the cooler end.

Plastic herp caging has become a popular cage material among snake owners for several reasons: It’s easy to heat, easy to disinfect, doesn’t warp under humid conditions, it’s mite-resistant, it’s lightweight, it’s inexpensive, and the cages are often stackable. Pre-made plastic enclosures come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and price ranges. And quite a few manufacturers offer custom add-ons, such as vents, built-in lighting, or heating. Since plastic corn snake viviarums are made specifically for keeping reptiles, these cages tend to allow for more precise environmental control than glass or wooden enclosures – making them a fantastically easy way to store your corn snake. As with any snake vivarium, plastic corn snake cages should be escape-proof and even lockable – to keep small children out… and to keep snakes locked securely within.

white horizontal barFinally, rack systems allow you to keep a large number of snakes in a small space. The concept of a rack system is that multiple levels of shelves containing a number of individual snake boxes are stacked on top of one another. Think of it as a large dresser filled with drawers meant for keeping snakes.

Reptile racks systems are available in a wide range of shapes, sizes and materials – the most common of which are plastic, metal and wood. Plastic storage boxes (such as those made by Rubbermaid and Sterilite) are sometimes used in these rack systems to house individual snakes, but most rack system manufacturers offer plastic boxes made specifically to fit their rack system.

Snake racks usually have some kind of heating element incorporated into their design – usually a strip of heat tape or a heated cable located at one side of the rack to provide a thermal gradient. Thermometers are also placed inside the containers of each individual snake, or at various points throughout each rack system drawer.

Certain rack systems feature an “open air” construction, similar to the screen top you might find on a glass aquarium, which can help to provide ventilation and prevent accidental overheating. For rack systems utilizing a “closed construction” design, you need to make sure each individual snake enclosure is kept well-ventilated to ensure there is proper airflow for the health and safety of your snakes.

The majority of commercial snake breeders use Feeder Breeder rack systems to house and breed their corn snake. This rack system is an excellent way to manage a large number of snakes. This type of caging allows each snake to stay secretive and within the right temperature and humidity environment. This type of rack system also makes for an excellent rodent breeding environment, in which a large number of rodents can be bred and raised to adulthood.

Corn Snake Flooring / Bedding

There are a number of different flooring substrates available for a corn snake vivarium. Floor covering (bedding) can be as little as a few sheets of paper towel or newspaper, but for snake comfort as well as an appealing look, reptile substrates are usually used. These types of bedding are made from various wood chippings and can be found at most good pet shops. Pine wood shavings (those commonly used for hamster bedding and in rabbit hutches) should not be used as they can become acidic when wet, which is hazardous to a snake.

aspen snake bedding
ball python forest floor bedding
aspen digs snake flooring
kaytee aspen bedding and litter
jurassic fir bark for snakes

white horizontal barThe floor of your corn snake vivarium should be covered with approximately ½ ~ 1 inch (12 ~ 25mm) of substrate, but only use a thin layer of substrate to cover the heated area of the vivarium floor. Many pet stores sell terrarium carpet liners that can be easily washed and replaced when they become soiled, but the truth is, a corn snake cage can be lined with anything from aspen or cypress mulch to paper towels. Do use any mulch or wood chippings that have a scent. Anything with a scent will be toxic to your snake and could kill it!

The primary concern with the flooring of your corn snake vivarium is going to be how easy it is to clean and how effective it is at keeping odors to a minimum. For the most part, the flooring/bedding only needs to be replaced about once every second or third month. However, routine maintenance must be done to clean out any uneaten food or stools. One of the easiest ways to keep your corn snake vivarium clean is to feed your snake in a different container that is kept a fair distance away from the habitat in which your snake is normally kept. Then, after your corn snake has eaten, place him back in his normal vivarium.

Heating & Humidity

Corn snakes thrive at temperatures in the same range that human beings find comfortable. This means that corn snakes like an environment that is somewhere between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (or 21 – 31 degrees Celcius). but unlike humans with self-regulating body temperatures, snakes can’t sustain their body temperatures, which is why it’s so important that your corn snake vivarium be set up correctly with a temperature range that makes your snake happy.

While external lights are the most popular way to heat a corn snake vivarium, you can also use other forms of heat to maintain the temperature through the night, including under-the-cage heating mats, overhead ceramic heaters or room-sized electric heaters. It is important that you never use heat rocks in a corn snake vivarium because they can burn and even kill your snake.

Be sure that your main heat source is aimed only at one end of your corn snake vivarium, so a cooler and darker retreat exists at the far end of the cage. The basking temperature on the perch site directly under the main heat lamp should be around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (or over 32 degrees Celsius). This slightly “too hot” spot allows the snake to thermo-regulate properly to reach the temperature it desires or needs, but also lets it move away from the heat source when warm enough, just as it would do in the sunlight.

white horizontal barBesides lights for heat, you may wish to illuminate the entire corn snake vivarium in a tone of light that beautifies the interior and your corn snake. Corn snakes’ colors look best in daylight with only the sun providing the light. Diffused lighting on cloudy days actually makes their colors appear even more vibrant than when exposed to bright, direct sunlight. Daylight-stimulating (or enhancing) fluorescent bulbs that have brightened fish aquariums for years also make corn snakes look beautiful and sometimes more florescent than in natural light.

Some brands of fluorescent light bulbs advertise that they give off limited amounts of ultraviolet (UV) light that benefits man life-forms. The UV light they emit is known to be important for some lizards and turtles, but seems inconsequential to the health of corn snakes. But it doesn’t hurt to use UV lights, so give them a try if you are looking for a lighting source for your snake. UV lighting could be beneficial to sick snakes in particular – especially if they can get very close to the heat source (for example: about 24 inches (61 cm) or less to it).

Incandescent light bulbs tend to give off a yellowish light, although some times are less yellow than others. The GE Reveal bulb is a good one to use and may give more pleasing results than many other incandescent light sources. Halogen lighting is whiter. It gives off warmth and won’t harm corn snakes, but it alters the color of their scales by washing out the reds and oranges somewhat. Based on the information we have at this point in time, our best advice is for you to use whichever brand or style of light that fits your needs best and produces the most eye-pleasing results in your display. Acquiring bulbs with the highest color rendering index (CRI) value obtainable will promote the most natural colors on your corn snake.

Artifical cage lights for corn snakes are most easily controlled with a simple electrical timer. Daylight length per day in the northernmost range of wild corn snakes (in south-central New Jersey) ranges from as low as about nine hours at the winter solstice (December 21 in the northern hemisphere) to a high of fifteen-and-a-half hours at the summer solstice on June 21. This equates to a daily lengthening of just over two minutes per day from late December through late June. in southern Florida, at the southern end of the range, the equivalent range is more like eleven to fourteen-and-a-half hours, or just over one minute per day. You should approximate these times in captivity. Resetting the timer daily is unnecessary, however. Adding fifteen to thirty minutes every couple weeks is fine! The reverse is true during he shortening half of the year, of course.

Corn snakes never live with lights on twenty-four hours per day in the wild. Therefore, it is stressful and disruptive to their biological clothes to live under constant lights-on conditions in captivity. If you don’t have an electrical timer for your corn snake, the easiest thing you can do is it to turn all the lights off in your corn snake vivarium for the same hours each day that you are asleep. Or, of course, you can invest in an inexpensive electrical timer to run the lights twelve hours on and twelve hours off – as a basic plan. Don’t be tempted to leave a light on for warmth. It will not be tool cold for your corn snake in the same room in which you spend the night. If storing your snake in a colder room or letting your snake digest a large meal in a cold room is a concern, either feed lighter, smaller meals, or invest in a small, under-tank heating pad as well.

Making Your Corn Snake Comfortable

Corn snakes are shy by nature, spending the vast majority of their time tucked out of sight in tree holes and crevices, animal burrows, under debris, or in the walls and roofs of old buildings. This is a clue that providing a similar place of concealment in your snakes’ enclosure is essential for their psychological health. Ideal hiding places allow corn snakes to place their entire body inside the enclosure, but are not large enough for an additional snake of the same size to fit inside.

Juvenile corn snakes are especially secretive, needing the security of snug places in which to hide to thrive. Don’t be surprised if your new baby corn, after thoroughly examine the cage for escape routes, decides to spend most of its days and much of the nights secreted away in its retreat. It will probably become more confident and remain in the open more often once it has gained some size and maturity.

Corn snakes like to squeeze into tight, dark places in order to feel secure from predators when they’re digesting food, in shedding cycles, gravid, or just resting. A piece of wrinkled newspaper may suffice (if you are operating under an extremely tight budget), although a shelter that is heavy enough to stay immobilized so it doesn’t slide or tip over is more preferable. When a suitable choice is offered, your snake may spend the vast majority of its time comfortably concealed in this hiding spot. If you weren’t already aware of it, corn snakes lead rather boring and uneventful lives by human standards. They rarely leave their shelters to prowl or put themselves on display – except when venturing out to find good or to seek a mate.

white horizontal barMany common containers can serve as hide boxes for a corn snake long as you make an opening in the container that’s a little bigger around than the thickest part of your snake’s body when it is distended by a meal. Margarine tubs, cardboard boxes, hollow or concave pieces of wood, or any number of creative custom products manufactured specifically for this purpose will work. Try the three products above, for example! There are tons of other popular snake hides available on Amazon.com

Hanging your corn snake’s hide box from a wall or ceiling might be a good idea, as this keeps the hide up off the substrate, which makes removing feces from the cage floor a whole lot easier. Corn snakes like to seek shelter in high places, so it’s natural for them to utilize hiding places above ground level. A long, slender shelter, such as a hollow log slices in half lengthwise, can provide the added bonus of a temperature range by extending across a portion of the cage under a heat lamp or over a heat tape or pad. This lets the corn snake avoid stress by being able to choose its preferred digestion temperature without having to bask in the open with a meal distending its stomach. Two identical hiding places, one at each end of the cage, in different temperature zones, may also achieve this advantage, while not forcing the snake to choose between its favorite hide box design and its favored temperature range.

What Does a Corn Snake Eat & Drink?

Wild corn snakes normally hunt for live prey items. Visual and chemo-sensory cues from potential food sources are both important clues aiding corn snakes in finding and identifying prey. Most successful hunts rely on utilizing both sense. Detecting and following a scent trail is possible when the snake is a greater distance away from prey. This is what normally helps most when corn snakes are tracking down a meal. When closer, the prey’s movement triggers the final lunge to grab it. In captivity, however, nearly app specimens of corn snake can be induced to eat live prey items that smell right by simulating movement in the food item by dangling it on the end of a forceps.

corn snake photos

A diet of live prey typically assures that the means of your corn snake are fresh and nutritious. Corn snakes engage in considerable physical effort seeking, immobilizing, and ingesting living prey while also risking injury in the killing process from bikes and scrathes from struggling rodents and birds. Conversely, offering only pre-killed food in captivity eliminates the chance of injury from resisting food items, but also minimizes exercise they receive in finding and subduing their food. However, if the keeper carefully manipulates the thawed food to simulate live prey, the snake will use almost as much energy as if the food was live prey.

Not every wild-caught corn snake will accept food in captivity, and even some captive-bred corn snakes balk at food differing even slightly from what they’re used to. Be prepared for several attempts at inducing a new corn snake to eat voluntarily, using every trick at your disposal. First, try offering food just after dark when corn snakes are normally beginning their daily hunting cycle. Try every possible combination of variably sized prey, live versus dead, freshly-killed verses thawed-frozen, and different kinds of prey as well. Various species of prey have distinctive smells and palatabilites to snakes, so try rates, hamsters, gerbils, day-old-chicks, or any type of odd rodent you can find. Wild deer mice and white-footed mice of the genus Peromyscus are found throughout the natural range of corn snakes in the wild and are sometimes the keys to getting a fussy corn snake’s attention when all else fails during the feeding process.

Clean Water For Your Corn Snake

Corn snakes require a constant source of clean water in their habitats – for both drinking and for submerging their bodies, so it’s important that you keep a small pool of water in the terrarium where the snake can get to it whenever needed. An eight-ounce water bowl will suffice for a baby corn snake, but as the snake grows, it will need a dish capable of holding at least 16 ounces of water. The snake’s water should be changed daily.

white horizontal barWhile it’s common for corn snakes to slither through their water bowl water, your snake may be stressed or insecure in its cage if it lays in the water for a long period of time. Corn snakes will also lay in their water if they have an infestation of snake mites on their skin, so watch your snake carefully if it starts spending a significant amount of time in its water dish.

Food dishes are not required in a corn snake vivarium because it is more beneficial to feed the snake in a separate tub or container when it is feeding. Feeding the snake in a separate container also helps keep your snake’s normal habitat cleaner – thereby cutting down on maintenance and the possibility of disease.

Corn Snake Facts & Information

  • Corn snakes are slender with a length of 24 to 72 inches (61 to 182 cm).
  • Corn snakes are usually orange or brownish-yellow, with large, black-edged red blotches down the middle of the back. On the belly are alternating rows of black and white marks, resembling a checkerboard pattern.
  • The name “corn snake” is believed to have originated from the similarity of the markings on the belly of the snake to the checkered pattern of kernels of maize or Indian corn.
  • Corn snake hatchlings lack much of the bright coloration found on adults.
  • Corn snakes are the most frequently bred snake species for pet purposes – due largely to the fact that they are colorful, docile and easy to care for compared to other snake species.
  • Corn snakes are primarily diurnal. They readily climb trees and enter abandoned buildings in search of prey. However, they are very secretive and spend most of their time underground prowling through rodent burrows. They also often hide under loose bark and beneath logs, rocks, and other debris during the day.
  • Corn snakes are found in the wild the eastern United States and from southern New Jersey south through Florida, west into Louisiana and even in parts of Kentucky. Corn snakes are most abundant in Florida and in the southeastern United States.
  • Corn snakes are usually found in wooded groves, rocky hillsides, meadow-lands, wood lots, barns, and abandoned buildings.
  • Corn snakes are also commonly called “rat snakes.” They are also sometimes called the “red rat snake” due to their common red/orange coloration.
  • Corn snakes in the wild are beneficial to humans because they help to control rodent populations that may otherwise spread disease and overrun farmlands used by human beings.
  • Corn snakes do not usually feed every day instead they feed every few days. Young hatchlings tend to feed on lizards and tree frogs, while adults feed on larger prey, such as mice, rats, birds, and bats.
  • Corn snakes are constrictors. First a corn snake bites the prey in order to obtain a firm grip, then it quickly wraps one or more coils of its body around the victim. The snake squeezes tightly until it suffocates the prey. Then the snake swallows the food whole, usually head first.
  • Corn snakes held in captivity are usually fed on mice, rats, and baby chicks.
  • The breeding season of corn snakes is from March to May. The snakes are oviparous, depositing a clutch of 10 to 30 eggs in late May to July. Eggs are laid in rotting stumps, piles of decaying vegetation, or other similar locations where there is sufficient heat and humidity to incubate them.
  • Adult corn snakes do not care for the eggs that they lay. Once the eggs are laid, however, the gestation period of the eggs is 60 to 65 days at about 82° F. The eggs usually hatch sometime in July through September.
  • Corn snake hatchlings are usually 10 to 15 inches (25 to 38 cm) long and mature in 18 to 36 months.
  • The life span of a corn snake in captivity is up to 23 years, but is generally much less in the wild because the snakes are usually killed by birds, rodents, human beings or other animals.
  • Corn snakes are often mistaken for copperheads and killed because of this mis-identification.

Types of Corn Snakes

After many generations of selective breeding, domesticated 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 chromatography development, maintenance, or function. New variations, or morphs, become available every year as breeders gain a better understanding of the genetics involved.

pet corn snake vivarium setup

Corn Snake Color Morphs

  • Normal or wildtype corn snakes are orange with black lines around red colored saddle markings going down their back with black and white checkered bellies. Regional diversity is found in wild caught corn snakes, the most popular being the Miami and Okeetee phases. These are the most commonly seen corn snakes.
  • Anerythristic (anerythristic A, sometimes called “black albino”) are the complement to amelanism. The inherited recessive mutation of lacking erythrin (red, yellow, and orange) pigments produces a snake that is mostly black, gray and brown. When mature, many type A anerythristic corn snakes develop yellow on their neck regions which is a result of the carotenoids in their diet.
  • Blood red (selectively bred “Diffused”) corn snakes carry a recessive trait (known as diffused) that eliminates the ventral checkered patterns. These originated from a somewhat unicolor Jacksonville and Gainesville, Florida strain of corn snake. Through selective breeding, an almost solid ground color has been produced. Hatchlings have a visible pattern that can fade as they mature into a solid orange red to ash red colored snake. The earlier bloodreds tended to have large clutches of smaller than average eggs that produce hard to feed offspring, though this is no longer the case.
  • Candy-cane (selectively bred amelanistic) These are amelanistic corn snakes bred toward the ideal of red or orange saddle marks on a white background. Some were produced using light creamsicle (an amel hybrid from emory rat x corn ) bred with Miami phase corn snakes. Some candy canes will develop orange coloration around the neck region as they mature and many labeled as candycanes later develop significant amounts of yellow or orange in the ground color. The contrast they have as hatchlings often fades with maturity.
  • Caramel corn snakes are another Rich Zuchowski engineered corn snake. The background is varying shades of yellow to yellow-brown. Dorsal saddle marks vary from caramel yellow to brown, and chocolate brown.
  • Charcoal snakes (sometimes known as anerythristic type ‘B’) can lack the yellow color pigment usually found in all corn snakes, They are a more muted contrast compared to Anerythristics.
  • Cinder corns originated with Upper Keys corns and as such are often built slimmer than most other morphs. They may resemble anerythristics, but with wavy borders around their saddles.
  • Crimson (hypomelanistic + Miami) are very light high contrast snakes with a light background and dark red/orange saddle marks.
  • Dilute is a melanin-reducing gene in which the snake looks as if it is getting ready to shed.
  • Fluorescent orange (selectively bred amelanistic) develop white borders around bright red saddle marks as adults on an orange background.
  • Hypomelanistic or Hypos for short carry a recessive trait that reduces the dark pigments causing the reds, whites, and oranges to become more vivid. Their eyes remain dark. These snakes range in appearance between amelanistic corn snakes to normals with greatly reduced melanin.
  • Kastanie This gene was first discovered in Germany. Kastanies hatch out looking nearly anerythristic but gain some color as they mature, to eventually take on a chestnut coloration.
  • Lava is an extreme hypo-like gene which was discovered by Joe Pierce and named by Jeff Mohr. What would normally be black pigment in these is instead a grayish-purple.
  • Lavender corn snakes contain a light pink background with darker purple gray markings. They also have ruby to burgundy colored eyes.
  • Miami Phase (originates in the Florida wildtype) These are 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. Selective breeding has lightened the ground color and darkened the saddle marks. The “Miami” name is now considered an appearance trait
  • Okeetee corn snakes. These snakes are characterized by deep red dorsal saddle marks surrounded by very black borders on a bright orange ground color. As with the Miami phase, selective breeding has changed the term “Okeetee” to an appearance rather than a locality. Some on the market originate solely from selectively breeding corn snakes from the Okeetee Hunt Club.
  • Reverse Okeetee (selectively bred amelanistic) an amelanistic Okeetee corn snake which has the normal black rings around the saddle marks replaced with wide white rings. Ideal specimens are high contrast snakes with light orange to yellow background and dark orange/red saddles. Note: Albino Okeetees are not locale-specific okeetees—they are selectively bred amelanistics.
  • Stargazing is not a color morph, but a chronic deficiency in balance. It is caused by a simple-recessive genetic defect and is considered deleterious. Due to inbreeding, the stargazing trait is common in Sunkissed corn snakes and in snakes descended from Sunkissed lines.
  • Sunglow (selectively bred amelanistic) another designer amelanistic corn that lacks the usual white speckling that often appears in most albinos, and selected for exceptionally bright ground color. The orange background surrounds dark orange saddle marks.
  • Sun-kissed is a hypo-like gene which was first found in Kathy Love’s colony.
  • Ultra Ultra is a hypomelanistic-like gene that is an allele to the amelanistic gene. Ultra corn snakes have light grey lines in place of black. The Ultra gene is derived from the grey rat snake. All Ultras and Ultramels have some amount of grey rat snake in them.
  • Ultramel is an intermediate appearance between ultra and amel which is the result of being heterozygous for ultra and amel at the albino locus.

Corn Snake Pattern Morphs

  • Aztec, zigzag and banded are selectively bred multigenetic morphs (that is not dependent on a single gene).
  • Diffusion diffuses the patterning on the sides and eliminates the belly pattern. It is one component of the bloodred morph.
  • Motley a snake with a clear belly and an “inverted” spotting pattern. May also appear as stripes or dashes.
  • Stripe this morph also has a clear belly and a striping pattern. Unlike the motley the stripes will not connect, but may sometimes break up and take on a “cubed” appearance. Cubes and spots on a striped corn are the same as the saddle color on a similar normal corn, unlike motley snakes. Stripe is both allelic and recessive to motley, so breeding a striped corn and a (homozygous) motley corn will result in all motley corn snakes, and breeding these (heterozygous) motley corn offspring will result in ¾ motley and ¼ striped corn snakes.
  • Sunkissed while considered a hypo-like gene, sunkissed also has other effects such as rounded saddles and unusual head patterns.

Corn Snake Compound Morphs

  • Amber (Hypomelanistic + Caramel) have amber-colored markings on a light brown background.
  • Blizzard (Amelanistic + Charcoal). Blizzards are a totally white snake with red eyes and very little to no visible pattern.
  • Butter (Amelanistic + Caramel) A two-tone yellow corn snake.
  • Fire (Amelanistic + Diffused) are an albino version of the diffused morph. These are typically very bright red snakes with very little pattern as adults.
  • Ghost (Hypomelanistic + Anerythristic A) These exhibit varying shades of grays and browns on a lighter background. These often create pastel colors in lavenders, pinks, oranges, and tan.
  • Granite (Diffused + Anerythristic) tend to be varying shades of gray as adults, with males often having pink highlights.
  • Opal (Amelanistic + Lavender) look like blizzard corn snakes once mature with pink to purple highlights.
  • Pewter (Charcoal + Diffused) are silvery lavender with very little pattern as adults.
  • Phantom These are a combination of Charcoal and Hypomelanistic.
  • Plasma (Diffused + Lavender) Hatch out in varying shades of grayish-purple.
  • Snow (Amelanistic + Anerythristic) As hatchlings this color variation is composed of white and pink blotches. These predominantly white snakes 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.

Corn Snake Scale Mutations

  • Scaleless corn snakes are homozygous for a recessive mutation of the gene responsible for scale development. While not completely scaleless above, some do have less scales than others. However, all of them possess ventral (belly) scales. They can also be produced with any of the aforementioned color morphs. The first scaleless corns originated from the cross of another North American ratsnake species to a corn snake and are therefore technically hybrids. Scaleless mutants of many other snake species have also been documented in the wild.

Corn Snake Hybrids

  • Brook Korn is a hybrid between the Brook’s king snake and a corn snake. Like the jungle corn, the hybrids show extreme pattern variations.
  • Creamsicle corn snake is a hybrid involving an albino corn snake and an Emory’s Rat snake (Pantherophis emoryi). The first generation hybrids are known as “rootbeers”. Breeding these back to each other can produce creamsicles, which are much more yellow-orange than the typical amel corn.
  • Jungle corn snakes are hybrids using the corn snake and California Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae). These show extreme pattern variations taking markings from both parents. Although they are hybrids of different genera, they are not sterile.
  • Tri Color Jungle corn snakes are a hybrid involving Querétaro Kingsnake and corn snake parents. The color is similar to that of an Amelanistic corn snake.
  • Turbo corn snakes are hybrids between a corn snake and any Pituophis species.

Corn snake photos by: Trailtreader, Conor Lawless, wwarby, rpavich, The Reptilarium, chrisbb@prodigy.net,