Eastern Corn Snake, Corn Snake, Chicken Snake, Red Rat Snake

NON-VENOMOUS

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Scientific name: Pantherophis guttatus (LINNAEUS 1766)
* Currently accepted name

Synonym:
* scientific names used through time

  • Coluber guttatus – LINNAEUS 1766
  • Coluber maculatus – BONNATERRE 1790
  • Coluber compressus – DONNDORF 1798
  • Coluber carolinianus – SHAW 1802
  • Coluber molossus – DAUDIN 1803
  • Coluber pantherinus – DAUDIN 1803
  • Natrix guttatus – MERREM 1803
  • Natrix maculatus – MERREM 1803
  • Natrix pantherinus – MERREM 1803
  • Coluber floridanus – HARLAN 1827
  • Pantherophis guttata – FITZINGER 1843
  • Elaphis guttatus – DUMÉRIL 1853
  • Scotophis guttatus – BAIRD & GIRARD 1853
  • Scotophis laetus – BAIRD & GIRARD 1853
  • Coryphodon pantherinus – DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & DUMÉRIL 1854
  • Elaphis alleghanensis – JAN & SORDELLI 1867
  • Coluber guttatus guttatus – COPE 1888
  • Coluber guttatus sellatus – COPE 1888
  • Coluber rosaceus – COPE 1888
  • Coluber laetus – BOULENGER 1894
  • Callopeltis guttatus – LÖNNBERG 1895
  • Elaphe guttatus – DUNN 1915
  • Elaphe rosaliae – STEJNEGER & BARBOUR 1917
  • Elaphe rosacea – BARBOUR 1920
  • Elaphe guttata – STEJNEGER & BARBOUR 1923
  • Elaphe laeta – BURT 1935
  • Elaphe emoryi intermontana – WOODBURY & WOODBURY 1942
  • Elaphe guttata rosacea – NEILL 1949
  • Elaphe guttata guttata – NEILL 1950
  • Elaphae guttata – SIVAK 1977
  • Elaphe guttata rosaea – HAAST & ANDERSON 1981
  • Pantherophis guttatus – UTIGER et al. 2002
  • Pituophis guttatus – BURBRINK 2007

Description: Average adult size is 18-44 inches (45.7-111.7 cm), record is 72 inches (182.8 cm). Adults are orangish-brown with black bordered orange, red, or brownish blotches. The belly is usually a black and white checkerboard pattern, though orange may also be present. The underside of the tail has 2 black stripes. There is a spear-shaped pattern on the head and neck. The scales are weakly keeled, and there are 27-29 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The pupil is round. Juveniles are similar in appearance to adults, but may be more brownish in coloration.

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A. Top of the head
B. Underside of the head (chin and throat)
C. Front (face view) of the head
D. Side of the head
E. Smooth scales
F. Elongated scales below the tail (subcaudal scales) are typically divided

Range: The Eastern Corn Snake occurs throughout Florida. Outside of the state, it occurs west to the Mississippi River and north to southern New Jersey.

Habitat: Commonly found near pinelands, hardwood hammocks, swamps, agricultural fields, and residential areas.

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Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous). The Eastern Corn Snake is primarily active at night. It is both a terrestrial burrower and extremely good climber. It is found under rocks and logs, and in trees under bark and within palm fronds.

It feeds on lizards, frogs, rodents, and birds and their eggs.

It lays eggs. Breeding occurs from April-June, 3-40 eggs are laid during the summer, and newborns hatch from July-September. It can live up to 22 years in captivity.

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. It is hard to imagine a better man-made habitat, with rafters and logs on which the snakes could climb and hide, and they were paid for using it by eating the pesky rodents.

Comparison with other species: Mole Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis calligaster) has a light Y-shaped pattern on the back of the head and neck, a clouded brownish belly, and lack a distinct neck.

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