Are corn snakes poisonous?

Considered one of the most popular pet snake species, corn snakes are a favorite for both seasoned and beginner pet enthusiasts. Corn snakes are also known as the red rat snake. They are a species of the rat snake and enjoy feeding on rodents, making them beneficial predators. A big concern, however, tends to circulate around how dangerous they are. I decided to carry out thorough research into this and other related topics to ensure you are well informed. 

Did you know that corn snakes are often killed because they are assumed to be copperheads? Copperheads look strikingly similar to corn snakes due to their red or brown blotches. Copperheads are poisonous snakes that bite when they feel threatened. 

What is the difference between a corn head and a copperhead snake?

Copperhead snake

Corn snakes are non-venomous constrictors that are docile and not aggressive. The copperhead snake, on the other hand, is venomous, and when threatened, they bite.

Although a copperhead’s bite contains only a small amount of poison, the area around the bite quickly becomes uncomfortable. If the snake intended to kill, however, the small amount of poison will become fatal.

Copperheads are different shades of deep copper and tan in color, which makes them incredibly good at camouflage. They also have a distinctive hourglass-shaped pattern strewn over their length. Corn snakes, on the other hand, are bright red and orange in color.

Copperhead snakes have a triangular head, which is a dead giveaway of a venomous snake. Their eyes have a slit pupil that resembles a cat, while those of a corn snake look round in shape. 

Breed Overview
Scientific name: Pantherophis guttatus Common name: Corn snake Size: Adult snakes grow up to 182 cm Lifespan: In captivity they can live up to 23 years Morphs: The list is endless….

What is their range?

The corn snake is a southeastern rat snake ranging from Maryland and Virginia to Florida, west towards Mississippi and Louisiana, and far north towards Tennessee. There are isolated populations strewn all over Kentucky.

What is their activity level?

Corn snakes are most active during the summer months and between March and November. They are mostly nocturnal and hide during the day. Their preferred hiding spots include animal burrows, loose tree bark, beneath logs and rocks, and abandoned buildings.

They are terrestrial creatures and very good at climbing. 

Are corn snakes poisonous?

No, corn snakes are not poisonous snakes. They are harmless, and their bite often feels like a cat scratch. They do not have fangs and aren’t considered aggressive unless provoked. You must be wondering, ‘If they are not venomous and relatively harmless, how then do they hunt their prey and survive out in the wild?’ Well, they are constrictors, so they bite to grip their prey then constrict themselves around them.

When hunting, the corn snake’s initial action is to strike the prey rapidly. After constricting their prey to death, they then swallow it whole.

What happens when a corn snake bites you?

Despite being a common pet snake, the corn snake always raises concerns with regards to biting. Corn snakes do not have huge fangs; therefore, their bite isn’t harmful, and it doesn’t hurt much either. The bite may only hurt at first due to the initial shock of getting bit. 

Their bites do not go deep unless they latch on. 

Step 1: Do not freak out. Freaking out will scare the snake more. Maintain your calm and put the snake back in its cage.

Step 2: Do not yank your snake off. Do not be forceful and try to pry or yank it off your arm or whatever it bit. Doing so will only tear the skin and enlarge the wound further. It will also take longer to heal the damaged skin around the actual bite. Here are a few things you can try to get the latched snake off you:

  • Run water over the corn snake’s head. This should cause your snake to release its jaw and let go of your arm.
  • Get tweezers and try to pry the snake’s jaw open carefully. Do not try to do this with your hands because you may squeeze the snake, frightening it even more.
  • The last option is pouring a highly alcoholic drink over the snake’s head. Not rubbing alcohol but more like whiskey or vodka. Use the drink sparingly as alcohol is harmful to your corn snake. This will definitely ensure the corn snake releases your arm from its grasp.

Step 3: Tend to the wound now that your snake is safely secured. Wash the wound with clean water and some soap to prevent the spread of bacteria and avoid infection. Apply some Neosporin and put a band-aid over it. 

Step 4: Usually, the wound isn’t something to worry about but if it gets infected, seek a physician.

Are corn snakes aggressive?

Corn snakes are one of the least aggressive snakes that exist. They are often calm when their owners come close to their cages or handle them. This trait makes them an excellent first snake for beginners. Corn snakes only become aggressive when they feel threatened. 

One good example is when you try to reach for your snake from above. This may cause your snake some panic as many of its natural predators strike from above. 

To avoid this, try not to hover over their heads for long and ensure they can see your hand when reaching into the cage. When your snake sees your hand and actions, it reassures them that everything is fine and they understand what you are doing. 

Another common reason that may make your corn snake nervous is by holding it too tight. Pressure and restricting its movements will make your snake nervous, making them lash out by biting. Instead, ensure you are comfortable and calm when handling your snake.

If you are just from handling foods or just from feeding your snake, they may strike and bite. Surprised? Despite being able to see your hand approaching from the front, your snake only needs to smell and process that food is nearby.

To avoid being mistaken for dinner, wash your hands after feeding your snake to get rid of the rat/mouse smell. You may also opt to handle the mouse with tweezers to reduce contact and ensure less of the scent rubs off on you.

Your corn snake may also display aggressive behavior when shedding. Shedding is overly stimulating and very uncomfortable. In addition to that, the skin also covers their eyes, making it hard to see. This makes them more vulnerable hence they are defensive when approached. An easy solution is to avoid handling your snake as it sheds or when it is about to shed. 

Can a corn snake kill you?

No, a corn snake cannot kill you. They have very small teeth, and their bite can’t hurt more than a cat scratch. They are very calm mannered and a great first pet snake due to this favorable trait. Corn snakes also do not have venom, and therefore when bitten, you have nothing to worry about. Simply cleaning and bandaging the wound would sufficiently take care of the bite. 

Can a corn snake strangle you?

No, they cannot strangle a human being. Corn snakes are small snakes that can’t squeeze anything bigger than a rat or mouse. 

Do baby corn snakes bite?

As in other snakes, hatchlings are observed to be more aggressive compared to adult snakes. This is a reaction to their survival instinct. As they grow older, they become more placid and prefer to slither away from threatening situations. Baby corn snakes do not have teeth that can cause any damage and are completely harmless. In most cases, their bite will leave a mark on your skin.

How many teeth do corn snakes have?

Corn snakes have between 20-30 teeth. They have twice as many teeth on the roof of their mouths as they have on the bottom. Corn snake teeth are aligned with two rows on the bottom and four rows on the top. These teeth are angled backward to help them grasp their prey better.

Are corn snakes friendly?

Corn snakes are solitary pets that do not interact much except during the breeding season. They are docile and often spend most of their time hiding, waiting for nightfall when they emerge to hunt for prey. Corn snakes use their body language to communicate what they feel with other animals and humans. Tongue flicking is normal behavior used to sense the surroundings, while tail shaking, rattling and hissing are a signal to warn a threat to back away.

Corn snakes are calm creatures with a gentle temperament and would rather walk away from provocation than attack. These snakes only attack when they feel threatened and cornered. Avoid such situations by properly handling your snake and keep an eye on their demeanor and behavior. 

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