© Crocodile Encounters 2016
Unique Reptile Parties and Shows
Snakes, Lizards, Giant Tortoises and Crocs
The corn snake, Latin name Pantherophis guttatus guttatus, or red rat snake, is a North American species of rat snake that subdues its small prey by constriction. The name "corn snake" is a holdover from the days when southern farmers stored harvested ears of corn in a wood frame or log building called a crib. Rats and mice came to the corn crib to feed on the corn, and corn snakes came to feed on the rodents. The Oxford English Dictionary cites this usage as far back as 1676.
Corn snakes are found throughout the South Eastern and central United States. Their docile nature, reluctance to bite, moderate adult size 3.9–6.0 feet (1.2–1.8 m), attractive pattern, and comparatively simple care make them popular pet snakes. In the wild, they usually live around 6–8 years, but in captivity can live to be up to 23 years old. Wild corn snakes prefer habitats such as overgrown fields, forest openings, trees, palmetto flatwoods and abandoned or seldom-used buildings and farms, from sea level to as high as 6,000 feet. Typically, these snakes remain on the ground, but can ascend trees, cliffs and other elevated surfaces. They can be found in the southeastern United States ranging from New Jersey to the Florida Keys and as far west as Texas.
In colder regions, snakes hibernate during winter. However, in the more temperate climate along the coast they shelter in rock crevices and logs during cold weather, and come out on warm days to soak up the heat of the sun, a process known as brumation. During cold weather, snakes are less active and therefore hunt less. Corn snakes are relatively easy to breed. First they have to go through a cooling (also known as brumation) period that takes usually 60–90 days long. This is to get them ready for breeding and to tell them that it’s time to reproduce. Corns brumate at around 10 to 16 °C (50 to 61 °F) in a place where they cannot get disturbed and not worry about predators. When its summer they go out to warm up to their regular temperature. Baby corn snakes hatching from their eggs. Corn snakes usually breed shortly after the winter cooling. The male courts the female primarily 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 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 young 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. They can grow up to 4 to 6 feet.