A girl or a boy? Are you curious as to which one your corn snake is? There is no easy way to detect the difference between a male and a female corn snake. Male corn snakes aren’t a specific color, and neither are female corn snakes a different color. They don’t have genitals that can clearly distinguish them on the exterior. For these reasons, it is important to sex your corn snakes.
What does ‘sexing a corn snake’ mean?
Sexing is the physical act of determining whether your corn snake is either male or female for the purposes of naming or breeding. Truth be told, sexing is easier said than done. It is an art form that shouldn’t be taken by beginners but rather an experienced pet snake owner. If done incorrectly, it could harm the corn snake.
Is it essential to sex my corn snake?
It is essential to sex your corn snake if you hope to breed it someday. Sexing will help you better pair them during the breeding season. Some pet owners prefer naming their pet snakes depending on their gender. So sexing would be helpful when picking the right name if the sex is important to you. Sexing is also essential when separating hatchlings as it is a good idea to house them separately.
There are three main ways to determine the sex of a corn snake.
1. Probing a corn snake
Probing a corn snake is one of the most definitive ways of determining their sex. It is the process of inserting a probe into a corn snake’s vent to determine whether they are male or female. Probing can be done at any age.
How do I probe my corn snake?
Pick an appropriate tool.
A ball-tipped probe is the safest kind to use on your corn snake because it does not hurt/harm them. There are also dull tipped probes that can do the task properly. It shouldn’t be too small nor over 4 mm long.
Have an assistant to hold the snake.
It is difficult to probe your snake by yourself. It is advisable that you look for someone to help you hold the snake in its natural position with its face upward. Ensure the corn snake’s body is being supported, especially the middle part. Having control of the corn snake’s head is also necessary, so ensure your assistant puts gentle pressure on either side of the snake’s head.
Lube up the probe.
Applying lubricant to the probe makes the process go smoothly. You can use petroleum jelly or KY jelly.
Bend the tail.
Gently bend the tip of the tail, and this will expose the cloacal opening. This is the vent into which you will be inserting the probe.
Gently insert the probe.
Once you have located the cloaca, gently insert the tip of the probe going towards the end of the tail. Do not push too hard, as you will hurt your snake. Let the probe go as far as it can go without exerting excessive pressure.
Examine how far the probe went
Now, count the number of scales the probe went in. If you aren’t sure, mark up to where the probe went in, then pull it out. Place it against the snake from the cloacal opening and count the number of scales. If it only went in a few scales, then it’s likely a female. If it went to about 8-16 scales, then it is a male. Males have hemipenes, inverted genitalia, that allows the probe to go further than in females.
2. Popping a corn snake
Popping is another definitive way of determining the sex of your corn snake. This technique should only be used on hatchlings less than one-month-old. In older snakes, popping has adverse effects. This method may also cause irrevocable damage if not done correctly, therefore leave it to the professionals.
Here are the steps you should take when popping your corn snake:
Have an assistant hold the corn snake.
Sometimes, a corn snake may bite when you pop them. For this reason, it is important to have the person helping you control the snake’s head to avoid getting bitten. The best way to hold a corn snake’s head in place is by putting light pressure on either side of the head.
Ensure the pressure isn’t applied underneath as it could cut off the snake’s breathing.
Find the cloaca.
Closely examine your corn snake’s tail with the belly up. A few inches away from the tip of the tail, you will notice the cloacal opening. Have the tip of the tail facing away from you.
Put your thumb under the cloaca.
Using your dominant hand, place your thumb under the cloaca. Gently apply pressure under the opening as you hold the tip of the tail in your other hand. Using the hand on the end of the tail, gently apply pressure as you move away from the tip and towards the cloaca. The movement should mirror gently squeezing toothpaste out of a tube.
Excessive force or pressure could injure the snake’s tissues. Have a reptile vet or expert train you before attempting the procedure.
Watch for the hemipenes.
If your corn snake is male, hemipenes should pop out. They will appear like two little tubes popping out of the opening. A female corn snake will not have these tubes. Instead, you will observe two little pink dots at the cloacal opening.
3. Visual Technique
The visual technique is the simplest of the three. It merely requires observation skills.
First, locate the cloaca.
As we have already established, the cloaca is the vent or opening towards the end of your corn snake’s tail. Find it.
Carefully observe the girth.
In females, the corn snake’s body should taper immediately after the vent, towards the tip of the tail. In males, however, the tail remains the same girth or width just after the cloaca for an inch or so before tapering off.
Male corn snakes will also be longer from the cloacal opening to the tip compared to females.
Another visual aid that can clearly help determine the sex of your corn snake is the number of scales. Preferably, it is easier done on shed skin than on a snake as they hardly stay still. A male adult corn snake typically has over 140 scales, while an adult female corn snake should have less than 130 scales. If the scales are between 130 and 140, it is hard to clearly tell the sex.
Questions & Answers
What is the cloaca?
It is the vent or opening at the end of the digestive tract of your snake, normally towards the tip of the tail. It is used as an excretory tract as well as a reproductive tract.
How do I know how old my corn snake is?
The easiest way to tell the age of your corn snake is by measuring its length. However, it is important to remember that pet care and the environment affects the length and weight of the snake. Hatchlings measure about 8-14 inches and reach their full size after a year. An adult snake is about 3-4 feet in length.
How do I know if my corn snake is too old to be popped?
Popping should only be done when your snake is a few weeks old but not more than a month old. It is dangerous to pop a snake that is more than a month old.
- A male corn snake’s hemipenes are delicate, and rough handling could easily damage them. Rough handling may result in the infertility of your corn snakes, both male and female.
- Ultimately, the safest way to determine the sex of your corn snake is with the expert help of a snake handler or veterinarian. The safest method to ensure the health and safety of your corn snake is the visual technique.
- Baby corn snakes often poop when you attempt to pop them, so be careful.
With the above tips, you can now safely and carefully determine your corn snake’s gender while being mindful of the reproductive organs. Sexing helps you determine the sex of your corn snakes so that you can separate them. If you have to put them together in one cage, ensure that they are all of the same sex.