The Corn Snake (Elaphe Guttata Guttata) is a species belonging to the rat snake category. They have a splotched pattern on their belly which resembles the Indian maize and hence they have been named ‘Corn’ snakes. There is a section of people that believe that since these snakes were found commonly in the corn fields they have been so named. These snakes are generally very docile and make excellent pets as they rarely bite.
The corn snakes are commonly found in Pine Barrens, deciduous forests, rocky hillsides and farm areas in the south-eastern and central parts of United States as well as some parts of Mexico. The average length of the snake is 3 - 4 meters. In the wild, corn snakes have an average life span of about 10 years, but when kept in captivity, these snakes are known to live up to 23 years.
Diet of a Corn Snake
Corn snakes generally do not feed everyday. The prefer eating once every few days. Young hatchlings prefer lizards and tree frogs while full grown snakes feed on mice, birds, rats and bats. Corn snakes are constrictors. After initially biting the prey to get a firm grip, the snake coils the prey and slowly tightens the coils till the prey suffocates and dies. Once the prey is dead, the snake swallows it whole the head going in first. However, if the prey is small is size, the corn snakes are known to swallow them alive. Corns are most active during the nights and the early hours of the dawn. They are primarily ground dwellers.
Reproduction in a Corn Snake
The corn snakes become sexually mature when they are two years old and breed between March and May. These snakes are oviparous and deposit a clutch of about 10 to 30 eggs sometime in late May. The eggs are laid in piles of decaying vegetation, rotting stumps or similar locations which are warm and humid so that the eggs can incubate. Like most snakes, corn snakes too do not take care of the eggs. The eggs need a temperature of about 82F and hatch after 65 days sometime in between July to September. The hatchlings are about 15 inch.
Corn Snakes as Pets
As mentioned earlier, corn snakes make great pets as they are very docile and hardly bite. But, it always advisable to buy a snake that has been bred in captivity rather than buying a snake that has lived in the wild for sometime.
A full grown corn snake requires an enclosure that is no less than 25 gallons. A glass enclosure with perfect locking devices and good ventilation is ideal. Care should be taken that there are no small holes in the enclosure as the hatchlings require size smaller than the hole of the straw to escape.
As snakes are cold blooded creatures, their body temperature depends on the surrounding temperature. Hence, it is very important to ensure that their enclosures are warm and humid which help them remain active and digest food. A tank heat pad can be placed at one end of the enclosure so that they can monitor their body temperature. A snake can get heat burns from heat rocks and placing them in the enclosure should be avoided.
Snakes prefer to hide for a great deal of time. Commercial apparatus like hollow logs and tubes are available which can be placed in the enclosure to help the snakes hide and feel safe. In an enclosure, preferably two such apparatus should be placed, one on the warmer side and the other on the cooler side so that the snake can pick as per its preference.
Baby corn snakes should be fed pinky mice. As they grow, the size of the mice should be increased. A thumb rule is that the diameter of the food that is fed to the snake should be the same as the diameter of the snake. They can be fed twice a week but once a week should be sufficient. Snakes often drink water and a bowl of clean water should always be made available.
Corn snakes come in a beautiful myriad of colors and make great pets. If you are interested in keeping snakes as pets then you have hit the right page. I hope that this article has helped you understand the snake better. But do remember that this information is just the beginning, look up at all the information available in the Internet and also talk to the pet store owner who will be able to guide you better. All the best!
By Anju Shandilya