Albino (Amelanistic) Corn Snake

Pantherophis guttatus

Last updated: September 14, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit iStock.com/praisaeng

Albino corn snakes great beginner snakes.

Albino (Amelanistic) Corn Snake Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Squamata
Family
Colubridae
Genus
Pantherophis
Scientific Name
Pantherophis guttatus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Albino (Amelanistic) Corn Snake Conservation Status

Albino (Amelanistic) Corn Snake Locations

Albino (Amelanistic) Corn Snake Locations

Albino (Amelanistic) Corn Snake Facts

Prey
Small rodents, bird eggs, amphibians
Main Prey
Rats and mice
Name Of Young
Hatchling, snakelet
Group Behavior
  • Solitary except during mating season
Fun Fact
Albino corn snakes great beginner snakes.
Most Distinctive Feature
Bright red, orange, and yellow markings.
Other Name(s)
corn snake, red rat snake, red corn snake,
Litter Size
12-24
Lifestyle
  • Nocturnal
  • Diurnal

Albino (Amelanistic) Corn Snake Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Yellow
  • Red
  • White
  • Orange
Skin Type
Scales
Lifespan
20+ years
Weight
1-2 pounds
Length
2-6 feet
Age of Sexual Maturity
Reach maturity at about 30 inches long
Venomous
No
Aggression
Low

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Albino corn snakes are a color morph of corn snakes with all the dark colors missing. 

The first genetic color mutation discovered in corn snakes was albinism or amelanism. Dr. Bernard Bechtel first produced an amelanistic corn snake in 1961. Corn snakes are native to the southeastern United States and can live for up to 17 years in the wild.

Incredible Albino Corn Snake Facts

  • Corn snakes are popular pets because they’re fun and interactive.
  • Albinism and amelanism are synonyms. It’s a naturally occurring recessive trait, but albinistic animals don’t usually survive long in the wild.
  • The first albino corn snakes came from a wild-caught amelanistic corn snake

Albino Corn Snake Scientific Name and Classification

Albino corn snakes are members of the Colubridae family, along with the eastern rat snakeking snake, and indigo snake. Their scientific name is Pantherophis guttatus, partly Greek and partly Latin. Pantherophis translates literally as “panther snake,” it’s most likely a reference to the type species for the genus Pantherophis. Their specific name of guttatus roughly translates as spotted.

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Their common names are varied, and most refer to their coloration. The most common are red corn, eastern, and red rat snakes.

Albinism vs. Amelanism: What’s the Difference?

Technically, there’s none. In this case, albino corn snakes aren’t technically albino, either. The cause of albinism or amelanism is the tyr gene, which is what provides the coding required for melanin production. The gene responsible for the mutation that caused this morph was the oca2 gene, which codes for a transporter gene specific to melanocytes. This mutation prevents any melanin that is produced from being transported to the melanocytes.

Albino Corn Snake Appearance

Albino corn snakes have the same markings as their normally-colored corn snake siblings. The difference is that, as an albino, they lack dark pigments. The remaining red, orange, and pinkish colors are vivid and striking. They have red round to oval markings down the length of their back, which often continues toward the belly, which has a corn-kernel pattern.

These snakes have vertical bars along their lower lip, large eyes, and slender bodies. Albino corn snakes can measure anywhere from two to six feet in length as adults and weigh between one and two pounds. They have no heat-sensing pits and are primarily diurnal.

Albino corn snake
Albinism and amelanism mean the same. This amelanistic corn snake has bright markings with no black or grey.

iStock.com/praisaeng

Albino Corn Snake Behavior

Albino (amelanistic) corn snakes are popular pets precisely because of their docile temperament and overall reluctance to bite. This species has been kept as pets in the reptile hobby for decades.

This diurnal snake is an excellent climber. Even though they spend much of their time on the ground looking for rats and mice, they’re just as likely to climb for food.

They’re nonvenomous constrictors that bite to grab prey, then quickly wrap several coils around it to subdue the animal. Contrary to what many scientists have believed for many years, constrictors don’t actually suffocate their food. They squeeze until the heart stops beating. Afterward, the snake can swallow its prey without injury.

Albino Corn Snake Habitat

Corn snakes are generally semi-fossorial and occur in every habitat, from dry to humid. These snakes are versatile and frequently found in grasslands, flatwoods, open rocky areas, pine forests, and tropical hammocks.

This species inhabits a wide range of habitats in the wild. They are a common sight in the southeastern United States, from New Jersey to the Florida Keys, where they’re native.

However, their overall adaptability has gotten them in trouble because they’ve been introduced into Australia, where they’re called the American Corn Snake. There, the snakes are sought out and exterminated because they are invasive.

Albino corn snakes can be found in the wild, just like any other animal that exhibits albinism or amelanism. However, because they can’t camouflage effectively, they do not often live long.

As pets, however, they’re wonderful and very easy to keep healthy. They are active snakes with high metabolisms and need to eat once a week, if not more. These aren’t your average sedentary ball pythons. They need an enclosure with a lot of room to climb and explore.

Albino Corn Snake Diet

This species is premier rodent control for neighborhoods and cities. They go anywhere they can smell food. Corn snakes are a type of rat snake, and the name fits. These snakes are known for finding their way into odd places and surprising people. As much as they enjoy a rat or mouse, they eat eggs or baby birds.

In captivity, albino corn snakes eat rats or mice, and many breeders recommend feeding frozen/thawed. It reduces the risk of injury to the snake and doesn’t add any unnecessary trauma to the prey.

Albino Corn Snake Predators, Threats, Conservation, and Population

In the wild, corn snakes have many predators. They’re not a particularly large species, so birds of prey, weasels, cats, dogs, and other animals eat them.

This species isn’t under any threat of extinction. They’re very common, and according to the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species, their population is probably more than 100,000.

Albino corn snakes are kept primarily as pets, and aren’t likely to be found in the wild. They’re easily available from breeders and popular pet snakes.

Albino Corn Snake Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

Albino corn snakes, like other corn snake morphs, breed easily. Similarly to other colubrids, corn snakes reach maturity when they’re big enough to support reproduction; age isn’t as much of a factor.

About a month after mating, the female lays 12-24 eggs in a moist, hidden nest. Corn snakes don’t incubate their eggs and leave soon after laying them. The eggs take about ten weeks to incubate before the baby snakes use their egg tooth to cut their way free. When they hatch, the babies measure about five inches long and leave the nest soon after hatching.

In captivity, they can live for more than 23 years. The oldest corn snake on record was 32 years old.

Crossbreeding Between Kingsnakes and Corn Snakes

Genetic data shows that corn snakes are closely related to kingsnakes from the Lampropeltis genus. Even more so than the Old World rat snakes where they were classified in the past. Corn snakes have also been bred with California king snakes (Lampropeltis californiae) to produce jungle corn snakes which are fertile hybrids.

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About the Author

Gail is a musician, author, and artist with more ideas than time. She loves learning about all things in the natural world. Her upcoming book, Pebble Worms and Fast Walkers is filled with all the random bits that kids love! She lives in North Texas with her husband, twin sons, dogs, cat, two red-eared sliders, and two ball pythons.

Albino (Amelanistic) Corn Snake FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are albino corn snakes good pets?

Generally, yes. They’re fairly docile and don’t bite often.

How do albino corn snakes hunt?

Like most snakes, they’re primarily ambush predators. However, as a species, corn snakes are relatively active and may seek out their prey.

Do albino corn snakes have health problems?

Not usually, however, their light-colored eyes can make them more sensitive to the light.

What do albino corn snakes eat?

Corn snakes eat rats and mice, and in the wild they may also eat other reptiles, amphibians, or bird eggs.

Sources
  1. Corn snake, Pantherophis guttatus | Reptarium Reptile Database, Available here: https://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species?genus=Pantherophis&species=guttatus
  2. Echternacht, A. & Hammerson, G.A. 2016. Pantherophis guttatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T63863A71740603. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T63863A71740603.en. Accessed on 14 September 2022., Available here: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/63863/71740603
  3. Amelanistic corn snake | Morph Market, Available here: https://www.morphmarket.com/morphpedia/corn-snakes/amelanistic/

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