Corn Snake, Red Rat Snake

Thee Corn Snake, also called "red rat snake," (Latin name Ellaphe guttata) is frequently found in cornfields and corn cribs, searching for rodents attracted by the ripening kernels. It is one of the America's most beautiful nonvenomous snakes and it is no wonder that corn snakes are popular pets in the United States and Europe. In fact, the corn snake was one of the first snakes kept in captivity. Large numbers are bred annually to ensure that there is a large captive-bred population, and lowering the need to collect specimens from the wild.

Partial to sandy pine and oakwoods, rocky hillsides, the edges of streams and abandoned buildings, corn snakes sometimes turn up in the basements of churches, hotels and factories, along rail lines, near public swimming pools, ins storm sewers and abandoned pipelines. Taken by surprise, corn snakes will coil and strike, hissing sharply and vibrating their tails. Some might bite when first caught, but usually soon become docile and readily submit to handling.

Corn snake Ellaphe guttata

The ground colors of normal wild-type corn snakes vary from orange to gray, depending upon the snake's origin. Black-edged saddles are shades of rust-orange to red. The belly is checkerboard of black and white. Improved breeding techniques have produced very attractive color mutations. The record longevity for these snakes is 22 years.

There are two subspecies of Ellaphe guttata: Common corn snake (Ellaphe guttata guttata) is found in the southeastern United States and is distinguished by orange skin with red blotches, the blotches having black borders;

Great Plains rat snake or Emory's rat snake (Ellaphe guttata emoryi) is found in the United States from Nebraska to Texas and into northern Moxico.

Corn snakes are chiefly nocturnal and in the daytime frequently hide beneath sheltering objects and burrows of other animals. At night, individuals are often seen on the roads, where many are killed by motor vehicles. Corn snakes feed on rodents and other small animals, including birds and their eggs. Juveniles also eat frogs and lizards. Prey is killed by constriction. Corn snakes frequently breed when captive. They measure 30-48 inches in length.


  1. Snakes
  2. Reptiles of North Carolina. William M. Palmer

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