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ALERT

Corn snake - High risk


 

Have you seen a corn snake? 

 
Corn snakes pose a risk to Australia's agricultural industry, the environment and human health. They are occasionally kept illegally as pets, and have the ability to carry serious exotic diseases affecting humans, pets, livestock and native wildlife. This species is a major concern to Australia's biosecurity as it can tolerate a variety of habitats, and is well suited to Australian conditions. If they were to establish,  it is unlikely that complete eradication would be possibleIf you have seen a corn snake in captivity or in the wild, please report it immediately using this website.
 
         
 
 

Quick facts

Did you know that corn snakes eat a variety of native species and can

out-compete native Australian wildlife for resources? You can do your part to keep Australia safe by reporting this species today!

 

 How to identify this species

 

Scientific name

Pantherophis guttatus / Elaphe guttata

Where are they from

Southern United States of America and Mexico.
 

Size

Juvenile's average 22-36cm, and adults can reach 180cm in length.
 

Appearance

Colours include orange to brownish-yellow, with black-edged and red blotches down the centre of the back. Colour pigments include bright red, orange, yellow and white combinations. Eye colour ranges from red, orange and pink. Generally, there will be alternating black marks on either side of the snake’s underbelly, with two distinctive black strips at the tail tip. Most corn snakes will have a spear-shaped pattern on their head.
 
 
White and yellow corn snake
Orange and red corn snake
Red, brown and cream corn snake
Spear pattern on head
Colour - top side
Colour - underside
 
 
Behaviour
 
Corn snakes are a nocturnal species that visit burrows of other species, and explore tree canopies looking for food and shelter. They prefer to remain hidden during the day, residing under bark, logs, rocks and other matter. Corn snakes will hibernate over winter.
 

Life cycle and breeding

Corn snakes become reproductively active as they reach two years of age. They can lay between 10-30 eggs, which normally hatch at about 65 days. They can live up to 25 years in captivity.
 

Habitat

Corn snakes prefer open and dry habitats such as fields, woodlands, grasslands and rocky areas. They can tolerate a range of habitats including forests, agricultural farm land and semi-urban landscapes. They are a ground dwelling species, however, may also climb trees and can be found in farm sheds or abandoned buildings. Because of these habitat features, they are highly suited to Australian conditions. Outside of their natural geographic range, populations have established in the Cayman and Virgin Islands, and the Bahamas.

 

Other resources for identification

Australian Museum
What snake is that? 
 

 

Similar native species

 

Stimson’s python

Antaresia stimsoni

Click to enlarge image

Collett’s snake

Pseudechis colletti

Click to enlarge image

Stephen's banded snake

Hoplocephalus stephensii

Click to enlarge image

Your safety and other information
 

Safety precautions

 
Although corn snakes are non-venomous, they can carry exotic diseases and parasites that are harmful to humans and other animals. Corn snakes are known to carry Cryptosporidium, a parasite that can cause respiratory conditions in humans, domestic animals and wildlife. They can also carry Heartwater (Cowdria ruminatntium), a tick-borne rickettsial disease that can be fatal to livestock.
 
For these reasons, the following precautions should be followed:
• Contact a wildlife handler or local vet to assist with safely containing the animal.
• Wear disposable gloves when handling animals. 
• Wash hands well in warm soapy water after handling animals. 
 
 

Legal implications

 
The importation, keeping, breeding and trade of this species in all states and territories is illegal. If you have a corn snake or would like further information about this species in your state or territory, please contact your local authorities contact your local authorities here

 

Other high risk species >

 
 

Report Non-Native Animals

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