Elaphe guttata

Status: Least Concern

Range & Habitat
Corn snakes may be found in the savanna, grasslands, and forests of the eastern United States from southern New Jersey down through Florida, and west into Louisiana and parts of Kentucky. However, corn snakes are most abundant in Florida and the southeastern U.S.

Physical Description
They are usually orange or brownish-yellow, with large, black-edged red blotches down the middle of the back. On the belly there are alternating rows of black and white marks, resembling a checkerboard pattern. Considerable variation occurs in the coloration and patterns of individual snakes, depending on the age of the snake and the region of the country in which it is found.

Reproduction
The breeding season of corn snakes are 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. The eggs are not cared for by the adult snakes. Once laid, the gestation period of the eggs is 60-65 days at approximately 82 degrees F. The eggs then hatch sometime in July through September. Hatchlings are 25-38 cm long and mature in 18-36 months.

Diet: Carnivore
Corn snakes do not usually feed every day. They generally feed every few days or so. Young hatchlings tend to feed on lizards and tree frogs, while adult feed on larger prey, such as mice, rats, birds, and bats. They are constrictors, meaning they will use their coils to suffocate their food before eating it. First a corn snake will bite the prey in order to obtain a firm grip, and then it quickly wraps one or more coils of its body around the victim. The snake squeezes tightly until it suffocates the prey. Then it swallows the food whole, usually head first. However, corn snakes have also been observed swallowing small prey alive.

Behavior
Corn snakes are primarily nocturnal, but are often active in early evening. 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.



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