Corn snakes rank among the longest and most colorful snakes in the US and are highly appreciated for their pet material. They are generally hardy, docile, and are not venomous, which qualifies them as great pets. They are even compatible with beginners with little experience in keeping reptiles.
But where exactly can you find corn snakes in the wild, and what should you know about their behavior and lifestyle? Let’s see!
Finding Corn Snakes in the Wild
Before you are going to wander around the wild to find corn snakes, you should know where they live. Fortunately, the natural habitat of corn snakes are pretty wide, so you might encounter one relative easily.
Natural Habitat and Distribution
Corn snakes are prevalent in the Southeast US in states like North Carolina, Virginia, Mississippi, and Georgia. These areas contain the highest corn snake density, but they can thrive in numerous other areas as well.
These snakes can tolerate a variety of environmental conditions, which is why they can be found in a handful of different ecosystems. These include rocky hillsides, grasslands, forested areas, and even agricultural and suburban regions.
The latter places corn snakes in the immediate vicinity of human settlements, which explains the many interactions between the 2 species.
Fortunately, corn snakes are not aggressive, so it’s unlikely that they will bite. Even if they do, they cannot harm humans.
Wild Corn Snakes Characteristics
While you will find lots of corn snake morphs in pet shops and at corn snake breeders, the wild corn snakes might look a bit different than those that are kept as pets.
Not only the appearance, but also their behavior, aggression and diet can vary a lot from their “domesticated” relatives.
Corn snakes are quite colorful and display colors like orange, yellow, red, and black for the most part. This snake can reach 7 feet in length, but most individuals won’t go past 5 feet.
The snake has an athletic and slim body, usually with red squares on their dorsal area. The head is small, with big eyes and a rectangle-shaped mouth.
Behavior and Lifestyle
Corn snakes can adapt to any habitat, more or less. They can move graciously on land, swim, and even climb on various structures in search of safety or prey. They qualify as constrictor snakes, so they rely on ambush and their coiling abilities to subdue and kill their prey.
Corn snakes are fairly docile and shy, so they prefer to avoid humans and other larger animals as much as possible.
This makes corn snakes non-harmful to humans, which doesn’t matter much because this species has its fair share of unfortunate encounters with Homo Sapiens. This is likely due to the snake’s lifestyle and main diet: rodents.
As a result, corn snakes thrive in proximity to agricultural zones and areas that facilitate rodent infestations.
Biting and Venom
Corn snakes are non-venomous, so they don’t pose an immediate threat to humans. They are also highly unlikely to bite because they prefer to rely on their keen senses and agility to detect and avoid humans.
That being said, corn snakes can bite if provoked, cornered, or held against their will, especially wild specimens.
This is true for all snakes, no matter the species and its overall docile demeanor; all snakes care about their lives more than they do about your well-being.
Captive-bred snakes, though, are far less likely to bite. This is one of the things that recommends corn snakes as great pets, even for children.
Prey and Feeding
Corn snakes feed on a variety of animals but prefer rodents above all else. This means that these snakes migrate to top regions that are more crowded with rats and mice than other types of prey.
They can also consume birds, small reptiles, or other small mammals if their favorite prey isn’t available.
When it comes to their favorite hunting tactics, corn snakes are a mix of passive and active predators. They rely on ambush to surprise their prey but can also hunt actively if they sense a rodent nearby.
The snake crawls unheard through the vegetation to close the distance and strike and constrict the animal rapidly to deliver a swift death.
They will then swallow the prey whole and retreat to a secluded area to digest the meal.
Catching a Wild Corn Snake
If you need to catch a corn snake, for whatever reason, consider the following steps:
- Wear protective gear – You need protective gear even if you’re dealing with a non-venomous and generally docile creature. Corn snakes can still bite if threatened, scared, or held, and you don’t want that. Even non-venomous bites can inflict skin wounds prone to infections. Have long pants, long sleeves, and protective gloves to defend yourself against bites or scratch marks. Corn snakes don’t have long or dangerous teeth, but they can inflict some decent skin damage with what they have.
- Operate slowly and calmly – Snakes are very sensitive to sudden movements around them. You should move slowly, not to rattle and scare them, which will not only increase the risk of biting but also stress the snake unnecessarily.
- Use a snake hook – If you don’t have one, get one. This tool allows you to handle the snake safely with minimal distress for the animal and no risk of biting.
- Have a container available – This is to deposit the snake inside until you figure out the next step. You can also use a bag or whatever else that can fit the snake. Make sure you can fit the reptile into the container with ease, so look for something with a large opening. Close the container as soon as the snake is in, as the reptile will attempt to rush out instinctively.
If you’ve captured the snake with the purpose of relocating it, the process is fairly simple. You simply transport the snake to the intended destination, place the container on the ground on the side, remove the lid, and wait.
The snake will emerge when it feels comfortable and be on its way. Don’t release the animal next to a highway or near a human settlement where it risks experiencing accidents.
If instead, you’ve decided to capture the snake for pet-keeping, you need to consider 2 points. The first point is that captive-caught corn snakes aren’t ideal pets.
They are not used to life in captivity and may stress out when kept in a closed system like a small terrarium. The second point is concerned with:
The Legality of Collecting Wild Corn Snakes
It’s important to know the legality of capturing and owning wild corn snakes because such activities aren’t legal in all states.
For instance, you cannot collect corn snakes in Florida and Georgia without a special permit, while Hawaii bans the capturing and ownership of corn snakes entirely.
Other states are more permissive, but even so, you should consider the impact of keeping a wild-caught corn snake. It’s best to invest in captive-bred corn snakes, and this goes for all reptile pets, no matter the species.
Corn snakes are a vital part of their ecosystem, primarily thanks to their diet targeting rodent pests that are common on farmlands and in agricultural areas.
The problem is that the snake’s dietary preferences bring it in close proximity to humans, and the outcomes are generally not in the snake’s favor.
Hopefully, today’s article can make a change in this sense.