Corn Snake : Great Lakes Aquarium

Corn Snake

Exhibits: Critter Corner

Animal Groups: Reptiles

Latin Name: Pantherophis guttatus

Frogs, rodents, birds, and small mammals


Inhabits a wide variety of habitats, ranging from open rock areas to grasslands to pine forests.

Animal Size: 48 inches (122 cm)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Natural History

Named for their historic association with wood-frame corn cribs in the southern United States, these snakes were known as a blessing to farmers for their habit of eating the rats and mice that would steal corn as it dried. As constrictors, corn snakes bite their prey in order to obtain a firm grip then quickly wrap one or more coils of its body around the victim. The snake squeezes tightly until it suffocates the prey.

Corn snakes are most active at night or in the hours of dawn and dusk (crepuscular). While they are primarily ground-dwellers, some are semi-arboreal. They readily climb trees and enter abandoned buildings in search of prey. They are very secretive and spend most of their time underground prowling through rodent burrows. They also often hide under loose bark and beneath logs, rocks, and other debris during the day.

Cornelius, the resident corn snake at Great Lakes Aquarium, was found near the University of Minnesota Duluth in July of 2010 by someone mowing his lawn. Since this kind of snake is not native to this area, she was probably a pet that was released and would not have survived a Minnesota winter. Cornelius serves as a reminder of what it means to be a responsible pet owner: many people assume that their pet would be “happier in the wild” when in reality, release is a harmful option for both the pet and the local ecosystem.