Many people who are into corn snakes wonder about the black corn snake. Their wonder stems from the fact that the black corn snake has some unique features that set it apart from the other members of this subspecies. But what may look like a difference at the surface only makes the point for these wonderful snakes.
Black corn snakes are slender, nonvenomous serpents that belong to the corn snake family. While they may be found along the eastern coast of the United States, they mainly congregate in the southeastern parts of the country. They don’t make a fuss nor do they require extraordinary measures to keep them happy and satisfied. This explains their popularity among snake lovers everywhere.
But that’s only scratching the surface here. As you get to know these attractive critters you’ll get to love them even more. From the various morphs to the habitats and eating habits, black corn snakes are a wondrous world waiting to be explored. So, let’s explore them together and see what makes them such favorite pets.
Black Corn Snake Colors
While black is the dominant color of corn snakes, this large family comes in many colors. You’ll find others with various shades and hues. Most prominent among those are the red family. Red and orange give these snakes their distinctive appearance. The more you look, the more you’ll find different combinations of those two colors.
Corn snakes are so close to rat snakes both in appearance and attitude that many people call them the red rat snakes. But as we’ll see this moniker is not fair to the black corn snakes. These elegant critters have a character that distinguishes them from the rest of the snake species altogether. But if we leave this aside from a moment we can focus on the other color variations of this family.
Some black corn snakes don’t have that dark pigment on their skin or eyes. This doesn’t mean they’re not black corn snakes anymore. They still are. Scientists call these ones Amelanistic corn snakes. They still have the same gray patterns on the back and the same shape of the head.
As for eating patterns and reproduction, these Amelanistic corn snakes fit right in with the rest of the corn snakes family. So even if they don’t look black, they’re still black corn snakes.
Black Corn Snake Genetics
Genetics is a large and amazing science that has many people scratching their heads at times. I’m not talking about tracing your family tree hoping to be a descendant of Ben Franklin only to find that you’re actually one eighth German, one quarter Irish, and one tenth Apache. This is black corn snake genetics we’re talking about.
So why is the genetics of black corn snakes such an important subject for owners or would be owners of these amazing pets? It’s simple really. If you have been following closely you’d notice that black corn snakes and the whole corn snake family, in general, is not easy to identify or discern. Some snakes like the Amelanistic corn snakes don’t look anything like the black corn snakes that you and I are used to.
Pure species are rare in the wild. Breeders also come up with different morphs around the clock. If you want to ascertain that the serpent you’re looking at is actually a black corn snake, you’ll need to have a look at its genetics and family tree.
Many breeders keep charts of the parents of the snake to guarantee its pedigree. If that chart is not available or you’re dealing with a shady uncertified breeder, you better look elsewhere.
How Much Is A Black Corn Snake?
Whether we’re talking horses, dogs, or serpents, the pedigree and provenance matter. By provenance, we mean the genetics of the black corn snake at hand. Please refer to the previous section to understand the importance of genetics and morphs in black corn snakes.
Now that we’ve established that, we can understand why the prices of black corn snakes swing wildly like a pendulum. You can get a black corn snake as cheap as $30 from any breeder who breeds snakes in his backyard. Or you can find them with a steep price tag that reaches $700. What gives?
Well, two things actually come into play when we’re talking about black corn snake prices. The first is the morph. Some rare morphs cost an arm and a leg mainly because they’re, well, rare.
You’ll learn more about black corn snake morphs in the section about morphs below. Common black corn snake types are rather cheap. But do you want to own the same morph as the rest of the owners in your serpent club? It’s all about vanity, isn’t it?
The other crucial factor in the price of a snake is its length. A baby snake that’s only a few inches long isn’t as expensive as one that is already showing healthy signs of development. Usually you’d want to buy a snake well beyond its baby phase because their survival rate increases exponentially as they get past that critical stage.
What Do Baby Black Corn Snakes Look Like?
Baby black corn snakes look just like the adult black corn snakes but with a few differences both in appearance and habits. For one thing the baby black corn snake has a round and rather diminutive head. They still haven’t developed the rather striking features that their adult versions are famous for.
Character-wise, the snakes are still developing. So they are rather shy and might be a little too aggressive. Don’t worry, though. Even if they try to bite you, these snakes are nonvenomous and their teeth are way too brittle to make a dent in your thick skin. Once they get familiar with your presence and associate you with food and comfort they’ll feel safe and allow you to play with them.
The color of the baby black corn snakes is also a little dull and the patterns on their backs are less prominent. As they shed their skin which happens a lot during their developing stages, every new skin will be sharper and brighter than the previous one.
Black Corn Snake Shedding
We mentioned that baby black corn snakes shed a lot more frequently than adult ones. This of course has to do with the fast growth rate among baby snakes compared to the older ones. Like other snakes, the skin of this species doesn’t grow with the rest of its body. So it needs to discard it the same way you’d replace a shirt two sizes too small with one that encompasses your figure more comfortably.
Baby corn snakes might shade as often as once a week. Once they’ve reached their first year, this shedding pattern slows down considerably. Adult snakes shed as little as once a year. During the shedding time the snake is usually irritable and prefers to spend more time hiding in its cage. Don’t disturb it since it will refuse food and won’t feel very sociable at this hard time.
Black Corn Snake Facts
Now that we know about the basics of owning a black corn snake, it’s time to learn a few fun facts about these interesting pets and how to care for them. I’m going to list those fun bits down here for easy browsing.
- Corn snakes get their name from the patterns and color designs on their belly rather than their back. The belly looks like a ripe ear of Indian corn.
- The back of the corn snake is covered with color blotches and stripes. The sides as well have their own art to show.
- The average black corn snake reaches anything between 24 and 72 inches. The longer the snake the higher its price.
- Corn snakes look like copperhead snakes. The first ones are not venomous unlike the copperhead.
- Black corn snakes eat meat so a diet of rats is their favorite food.
- You can feed it once every couple of days. It swallows the prey whole.
- They live up to 22 years.
How to Breed Black Corn Snakes?
Breeding black corn snakes isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ll need to get the suitable mates together around spring or autumn because these are the times when they randy and ready for love. After mating, the female serpent lays between 10 and 30 eggs at a time. This usually happens between May and July.
You’ll need to provide the mother with material to make nests. Twigs and leaves do well as nesting habitat. After 2 months, the eggs are ready to hatch. During this time the mother will act overprotective of the eggs.
Other Popular Corn Snake Morphs
Thanks to selective breeding, corn snake morphs are as numerous as there are gum brands in the convenience store. We already mentioned that corn snakes are very popular among pet lovers and where there’s demand in the market, breeders will happily provide the supply. Some of the common morphs include
- Okeetee corn snake: While not pure black corn snakes, this morph is the product of breeding different species of corn snakes found mainly in North Carolina. They have distinct colors that are a mix of red and black. Usually the back is red with stunning patterns and the sides are black. A delight for all snake owners.
- Lavender corn snake: When you mix a snow corn snake with a wild corn snake, what you get is a new morph with unique lavender hues. It first appeared about 40 years ago and is still going strong.
- Snow corn snake: This is one of those amelanistic snakes that we talked about. Snow of course here denotes the absence of color and/or patterns. Some pet owners call them ghost corn snakes. The lack of color doesn’t change anything about their character and personality.
- Albino corn snake: Another morph that lacks the black pigment which makes it amelanistic snake. They come in different hues of orange, red, and yellow. Many people prefer them over black corn snakes perhaps because of the color of their eyes. The eyes of these snakes match the color of their skin.