Ghost corn snakes are very popular as snake pets. Known for their calmness and beauty, they only require intermediate care levels, making them great pets for first-timers and professionals alike.
So, what are ghost corn snakes? Well, they are a snake species that belongs to a family of non-poisonous rat snakes. They kill their prey by constriction and suffocation. This snake is scientifically referred to as Elaphe guttata. They are common in southeastern and central USA.
If you have been planning on getting a ghost corn snake and you don’t know where to start, this article will cover everything you need to know before getting one.
Ghost Corn Snake Colors
The gene composition of a ghost corn snake is unique in the sense that it has little to no red pigment in its coat. It also has repressed melanin in its skin. This results in the snakes having brown, orange, pink, and lavender base colors. Their markings are made of different shades of black, brown, or gray.
Ghost Corn Snake Genetics
The ghost corn snake is a result of gene manipulation. This means that the parent snakes were specially selected to create the desired traits. Originally, corn snakes had a red, orange, or brown base color and black markings.
They are type-A corn snakes, which means that they have the hypomelanistic gene. It is the gene that causes a reduction in melanin in the snake’s skin, which results in the snake’s markings bearing a lighter shade of black.
Ghost corn snakes also carry the Anerythristic gene (anery) which is responsible for the lack of red pigmentation on the snake’s base color.
The pattern made by the snake’s markings is also affected by numerous genes.
Ghost Corn Snake Temperature
Like every other reptile, corn snakes are cold-blooded. This means their body temperature varies with the environment. To create the ideal temperature for your corn shake, you will have to create 3 zones so that it can move between them when it gets uncomfortable.
The basking zone is hottest and it is maintained at 90° F. This is where your snake will go if the habitat gets too cold. The ambient zone stays at normal air temperature, at around 78 to 82° F. The third and final zone is the cool zone, which is at 75°F.
At night, there might not be much need for a heater since the temperature can fall to 68°F but if you feel the need to provide heat, use a ceramic heater or a heating pad. Ensure that it has a thermostat for safety.
I would advise you to set up your ghost snake’s enclosure a while before you bring it home since it might take a few trials before you find a way to maintain the temperatures it needs.
How Much is a Ghost Corn Snake?
The price of your ghost snake may vary depending on factors like its age, gender, the gene making its pattern, and its general appearance.
A baby ghost corn snake can be sold for around $50 based on its features. A fully grown ghost corn snake can go for as low as $80 to as high as $250.
As you look for a seller, you should consider getting in touch with a breeder rather than a pet store as you are more likely to get a healthier pet this way. You can also think about adopting one from a rescue center or from your local classifieds to reduce the excessive breeding.
Once you have gotten in touch with a seller, do not buy the snake before inspecting and handling it. Check to see whether it has scars, mites, missing scales, or any shed skin on the tail and eye caps. Also, check for its breathing, muscle tone, weight, and any signs of deformities.
Also, ask the seller for as much genetic and health information about the snake as they can give. This includes its age, temperament, health issues, and shedding information.
Snakes sometimes experience relocation stress, and a ghost corn snake is no different. You should request the seller not to feed the animal before you pick it to prevent regurgitation.
What Do Baby Ghost Corn Snakes Look Like?
Ghost corn snake eggs hatch about 10 weeks after being laid. The hatchlings are usually around 5 inches long. The hatchling usually has an almost white base color and light gray markings but they take color as they grow up, depending on their gene composition.
A baby ghost corn snake does not need much feeding the first two to four weeks after it is hatched but once they start to eat, you should feed them around twice a week. Keep in mind that the more you feed it, the faster it grows.
Ghost Corn Snake Morphs
Although a ghost snake is already a morph, breeding it with other corn snakes creates other morphs, giving you more variety. Here are some ghost snake morphs:
Ghost Bloodred Corn Snake
This snake has light colors with a minimal look to it. It has a light brown base color with gray or tan colored markings with a hint of red. Its appearance makes it easy for it to blend in subtle environments like a pile of dead leaves or some brush.
Ghost Stripe Corn Snake
Ghost snakes are also a combination of the anery A, hypomelanistic (hypo A), and Eugene stripe genes. The Eugene stripe gene is a recessive gene that causes the snake to have markings that run from the top of its head to its tail.
This combination results in a snake with a yellow/ brown base color with gray or black stripes.
Lavender Ghost Corn Snake
This snake’s appearance is a combination of the ghost corn snake and the lavender ghost. A lavender ghost snake has a base color that varies from a beautiful light purple with some hints of peach.
The combination of these genes results in a snake with a light peach base color with markings that are a shade of black, gray, or brown.
Plasma Ghost Corn Snake
A plasma ghost corn snake is the offspring produced when a plasma corn snake’s genes are combined with a ghost corn snake. The result is usually a snake with a light lavender base color with brown markings which depend on the pattern gene that the snake has.
Ghost Corn Snake Shedding
As your snake gets bigger, it will shed its skin. This usually happens once every few weeks when the corn snake is young. As it gets older, it sheds once every few months.
Before your snake starts to shed, its skin will start looking dull and its colors will appear paler. As time goes, its eyes will start looking cloudy or bluish. After this phase, the snake’s skin will start to appear normal and its eyes will clear up. Some owners see this as a cause for alarm, but there is no need to worry.
About 3 days after it starts looking normal is when it will shed its skin. During this time, you’ll see it rubbing its nose on surfaces as a way to kick start the shedding process. The shed should come out as one piece. If this is not the case, it means the habitat is not humid enough. Corn snakes live comfortably when the humidity is at 40-50%. In addition to better shedding, correct humidity levels help to keep your snake’s respiratory health in check.
You can use a hygrometer to check the levels and make adjustments where necessary. Humidity can be maintained by using a large water bowl and a good substrate like aspen shavings and hemp.
If it doesn’t shed completely, you can assist the process by placing him in a lidded container with air holes and wet paper towels or moss inside. After a while, the shed will be soft and easy to come off. You should also check the tail tips and eye caps to make sure all the shed is off.
While your snake sheds, you might want to hold off on the feeding. Some might even refuse to eat. This is because they have a hard time digesting food. You might also notice your snake acting a little shy and nervous during this time but it’s pretty normal and you should give them space.
Ghost Corn Snake Facts
Here are a few very interesting facts that you might want to know about ghost corn snakes:
- Corn snakes can grow up to 6 feet long but they remain slim.
- They can live for up to 20 years when given proper care.
- Ghost corn snakes are diurnal. This means they are most active during the day and sleep at night. However, when it gets hot, they can become nocturnal.
- They are friendly and respond well to consistent care and handling. Once a bond with the owner has been formed, they enjoy crawling up their arms. However, you shouldn’t handle it up to 48 hours after feeding since they might regurgitate which is uncomfortable and stressful for the snake.
- Ghost corn snakes enjoy eating mice and other rodents. Choose an animal that your snake can easily swallow and digest. If the prey is too large, the snake might regurgitate, get seizures, paralysis, or even death.
- They like to escape, so the habitat should be enclosed with a tight lid with clasping clips. The habitat should also have a substrate that has high water retention, like the Douglas fir bark. Keep a water bowl that is large enough for the snake to submerge itself in but heavy enough so that it doesn’t get tipped over.