The Corn Snake or Red Rat Snake (Elaphe guttata) is a species of Rat Snake. The Latin word elaphe means deerskin. Popular in the pet trade, they are known for being smaller and less aggressive than other Rat Snake species. Their average adult length is about 5 feet long and they may live to be 30 years old in captivity. They are found throughout the south-eastern and central United States as well as parts of Mexico. The name 'corn snake' comes from the fact that it often hunted mice in farmer's corn fields.
Wild Corn Snakes prefer habitats such as overgrown fields, forest openings, and abandoned or seldom used buildings. In the wild, Corn Snakes tend to be quite secretive and appear to be active mostly at night. During daylight hours they may be found hiding under loose tree bark and beneath logs, rocks, and other debris.
Corn snakes are ideal pets and are one of the most widely available snakes in the pet trade. They are a good choice for a beginner snake keeper due to the fact that Corn Snakes have a comparatively docile temperament, are robust, and are more tolerant of basic husbandry mistakes than most other snakes. Also, Corn Snakes are widely captive bred, so healthy specimens are readily available. Corn snakes can live as long as 30 years in captivity, averaging closer to 15-20 years.
No matter how easily corn snakes can be kept, intensive research must be carried out before obtaining one, as their care needs are relatively complex. A vet that treats reptiles must also be sought beforehand, as few vets practice "exotic" medicine.