|Common name: Corn Snake aka Red Rat Snake|
Species name: Pantherophis guttatus
Description: The Corn Snake (Pantherophis 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. Their docile nature, reluctance to bite, moderate adult size 3.9–5.9 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.
Distribution: Corn Snakes are found throughout the southeastern and central United States
Habitat: 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.
Foods: Corn Snakes have a diet primarily consisting of rodents, mostly mice and rats. Prey is killed by constriction. They are proficient climbers and may scale trees in search of birds and bats although they prefer to be on ground level. As litters of infant mice are difficult to find in nature, many neonate Corn Snakes are known to eat small lizards as their first meals, and anoles are the preferred choice. Some individuals retain these dietary tendencies well into adulthood. Captive Corn Snakes are usually fed by their owners on a diet of commercially available rodents, predominantly mice, while younger and smaller specimens may eat live or dead rat or mouse pups of various sizes. Frozen "pinkies" (baby mice) that have been warmed in hot tap water for 10-15 minutes are ideal for baby corn snakes. As the snake grows, the size of the prey grows.
(Image by LaVonne)
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