Corn snakes, sometimes known as red rat snakes, are thin orange or brownish-yellow snakes with prominent brownish-red spots highlighted in black along their backs. If you live in the United States, particularly the southeastern states, you’re likely to come across one.
Corn snakes are found in the eastern United States from southern New Jersey to Florida and sections of Louisiana and Kentucky. They are especially common in Florida and many of the other southern states. Because they are a kind of constrictor, these snakes bite their prey to obtain a strong grasp on it, then immediately coil themselves around it, squeezing fiercely until the victim is immobilized.
Want to learn more about this amazing snake? Here are some details about how long a nonvenomous snake like the corn snake can live in the wild and as a pet!
How Long Do Corn Snakes Live?
The average corn snake lifespan is probably about 6-8 years in the wild. However, they can live up to 23 years or more in captivity. The oldest corn snake in captivity lived for 32 years and three months.
Let’s compare the corn snake’s lifespan with other well-known snake species:
- Ball Python: In the wild, ball pythons have an average lifespan of 10-15 years. In captivity, their average lifespan increases to 20-30 years.
- Boa Constrictor: Boa constrictors have an average lifespan of 15-20 years in the wild and 20-30 years in captivity.
- Garter Snake: In the wild, garter snakes have been known to live a short while, with an average lifespan of 3-4 years. However, in captivity, their lifespan is 6-10 years.
- Western Hognose Snake: In captivity, the western hognose snake can live between 15-18 years. However, this is cut short in the wild as they can only live for 9-12 years.
As you can see, corn snakes do not have the longest lifetime of any snake species, but they also do not have the shortest. Corn snakes, in fact, are one of the simplest snakes to care for. They don’t need high temperatures or a lot of humidity, and they eat well.
The Average Corn Snake Life Cycle
Now that we know just how long corn snakes can live, let’s explore their life cycle. Their reproduction and growth cycle are quite interesting!
Corn snakes typically breed between March and May. The male first uses tactile and chemical cues to court the female. It then everts one of its hemipenes, inserts it into the female, and ejaculates its sperm. If the female is ovulating, the eggs are fertilized. The female begins laying eggs around a month after mating.
When the female snake begins to lay eggs, she will deposit around 12-24 of them in a warm, moist, and secluded spot. Once the eggs are laid, the female abandons them and never returns.
Corn snakes are not particularly maternal mothers, and they do not have any relationship with their kin. The eggs are oval and have leathery, flexible shells. Around ten weeks after being laid, the snakes use a unique scale known as an egg tooth to cut openings in the eggshell from which they emerge.
Young corn snakes hatch as already incredibly self-sufficient adults. This is because they do not depend on their parents to take care of them. They are around 5 inches long when they hatch. They eventually reach reproductive maturity between the ages of 18 and 36 months.
What Factors Impact The Corn Snake’s Lifespan?
Corn snakes face various threats in their natural environment, many of which can shorten their lifespan.
These factors include:
- Predators: Corn snakes, like other snakes, serve as both a predator and a prey item for a variety of species. Foxes, coyotes, bobcats, skunks, hawks, owls, opossums, raccoons, weasels, and other snakes are among the corn snake’s predators. Corn snakes are often killed by humans who mistake them for dangerous snakes. People may mistake them for copperheads due to their orange coloring.
- Lack of access to food: Corn snakes are carnivores. This means that they have to hunt for their food. If there is a lack of accessible food or they are unable to hunt, they will not be able to feed themselves.
- Infections and sickness: Corn snakes, like other snake breeds, are prone to fungal illness and respiratory diseases. Skin discoloration is a sign of fungal infection. Mouth rot, also known as infectious stomatitis, is a bacterial infection of the mouth. This frequently results in spit bubbles and inflammation in and around the mouth.
How To Extend The Life Of Your Pet Corn Snake
Corn snakes are one of the most popular snakes to keep as pets. Their appeal stems from their small size, calm demeanor, and easy maintenance.
If you’re looking to extend the life of your pet corn snake, then the following tips will help:
- Pick the right-sized tank: Adult corn snakes can grow to reach 5 feet (1.4m) long. A tank or vivarium can be used as an enclosure. The cage should be at least the length of your snake when fully stretched out. Your tank will most likely need to be upgraded as your snake develops and gets bigger.
- Give your corn snake plenty of heat: To provide a good heat source, place a basking light that covers roughly one-third of the tank. Temperatures in the enclosure should be a range, so your corn snake can thermoregulate more effectively. Ideally, their basking temperature of 85-90℉, and the cool side of 75-80℉, which can drop into the low 70s at night.
- A pair of corn snakes should not be kept together: Corn snakes are loners that prefer to be left alone. Keeping two snakes together might cause them to get stressed. Corn snakes kept as pets in one tank have been known to devour each other. This often results in both snakes dying.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Enrique Ramos/Shutterstock.com
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