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Are Corn Snakes Aggressive? (6 Causes of Hostility)

Are Corn Snakes Aggressive? (6 Causes of Hostility)

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The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Corn snakes are a common choice for many pet snake enthusiasts, and all for good reasons. These snakes are colorful, have a tame nature, and respond fast to training.

However, those seemingly harmless snakes can often nip and bite. That’s especially true if they aren’t used to life in captivity yet.

So, are corn snakes aggressive? Or is there a reason behind all the hissing and biting?

In this article, we’ll discuss whether or not corn snakes are aggressive. We’ll also walk you through six reasons that might provoke those popular pet snakes to show hostility. So, stick around!

Are Corn Snakes Aggressive?

In general, no. Corn snakes are among the calmest and easiest-to-domesticate animals, whether in captivity or in nature. Ranging from 24 to 72 inches long, these medium-sized snakes feed on small animals, like rodents, birds, lizards, and frogs.

So, humans might be too big of prey for corn snakes to attack. Unlike some pythons and green anacondas that can span over 20 feet and prey on humans.

In addition, corn snakes are non-venomous, making them harmless. That explains why corn snakes are one of the most popular pet snake choices.

That said, corn snakes have survival instincts, just like most animals. Whenever they sense danger or are stressed, those calm pets won’t hesitate to bite and show aggression.

What Makes Corn Snakes Aggressive?

Several reasons, like illness, hunger, and lack of training, can make corn snakes attack you. Threats and stressful situations also trigger snakes to become aggressive.

Let’s discuss the reasons behind corn snake aggressiveness in further detail!

1 – Threat

Sensing danger is one of the most common reasons behind corn snakes getting defensive.

Naturally, those copperhead-look-alike snakes live in the Central and Southeastern USA. They prefer habitats, such as forests and overgrown fields.

Thanks to their habitat, human interaction isn’t a day-to-day activity for corn snakes. Even most corn snake predators, like foxes, hawks, weasels, and wild cats are all considerably smaller than humans.

For that reason, corn snakes may view people as a threat when encountering them for the first time. Plus, those pet snakes have little room to hide in captivity. That gives more reasons for corn snakes to feel anxious and stay alert to defend themselves.

The aggressive situation can worsen if you move quickly, as sudden movements agitate snakes. They mistake your behavior for how predators usually act when attacking them.

To reduce corn snakes’ anxiety around humans, you can try to get them used to your presence. Just hang out near their enclosure and talk so that they don’t mistake sound vibrations for a threat.

Soon, the corn snakes will get used to you and won’t view human interaction as a danger alert.

2 – Habitat Stress

A cramped enclosure with unsuitable living conditions would anger corn snakes.

The more stressed your pet snake is in its habitat, the more anxious it becomes. As a result, corn snakes might become hostile towards you.

To get a better idea about your corn snake’s habitat, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does your snake have room to move or are they restrained?
  • Have you provided corn snakes with places to burrow into and hide when feeling threatened?
  • Can the pet snake move from the warm side of the enclosure to the cold side without being noticed?
  • Is there enough clutter, like a water dish, thick branches for the snake to slither over, and foliage to mimic corn snakes’ natural habitat?

Aside from the space and decor, the terrarium’s temperature can also affect your pet snake’s stress level.

Generally, corn snakes prefer a temperature between 78ºF and 85ºF on the warm side of the enclosure. A temperature ranging from 72ºF to 80ºF would be ideal for the cool side. If the terrarium’s temperature is too high, you risk overheating the corn snakes.

When corn snakes get too hot, their metabolic rate increases, causing them to feel hungry. Overheating is even more stressful for snakes because they can’t sweat to cool their bodies off.

As a result, the snakes become confused and mistake any moving object for food. That stressful situation can even make corn snakes eat themselves!

3 – Skin Shedding

Most snakes, including corn snakes, shed their skin for good reasons. As those pet snakes grow to reach their adult length, their skin stays the same.

To overcome that problem, corn snakes shed the old skin layer and grow a longer one. However, that’s easier said than done. As corn snakes start to peel, they undergo some physiological changes, including:

  • Dull-looking skin
  • Milky eye color
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of appetite
  • Little movement and interaction

All the above signs make shedding stressful. Not to mention, the entire shedding process can take a week or so.

Plus, snakes shed all year long. As a result, your pet snake may get irritated frequently and show aggressive behavior.

4 – Not Feeling Well

If your corn snake is ill or has an underlying medical condition, that can put them in a bad mood. The problem with most snakes is that they do every activity slowly. Even showing disease symptoms can take weeks or months.

During that time, your pet snake may show some general signs of illness that can irritate the snake. These signs include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Listlessness
  • Irregular breathing
  • Digestion problems

So, it’s only natural not to expect corn snakes to be all joyful when they’re sick. In fact, behavior change is among the common red flags that indicate something isn’t right with your snake.

Mites can also be one of the culprits behind corn snakes’ aggressive behavior. Those pesky insects multiply rapidly, causing itchiness and discomfort for corn snakes.

As a result, mite-harboring snakes twitch and move excessively, which explains why they may be aggressive.

5 – Lack of Training

You can’t bring corn snakes from nature, put them in a terrarium, and expect them to behave friendly. Sure, that sudden habitat change would stress most animals and cause anxiety.

Even for corn snakes born in captivity, their natural defensive instincts will kick in when facing a dangerous situation.

That’s why it’s important to socialize with your pet snakes to familiarize them with their new habitat.

Luckily, corn snakes are among the easiest pets to train, thanks to their patience. It takes around two weeks of handling for your new pet snake to settle in its new home and become less defensive around you.

6 – Grouping Them

In the wild, corn snakes hunt, eat, and sleep alone. Usually, the reason snakes are loners is that they’re highly territorial, regardless of sex.

Put two tamed corn snakes together, and you’ll see them fighting for food and bullying each other. Even worse, the larger, more dominant snake can eat smaller snakes!

That stressful situation increases their alertness and anxiety, causing them to become aggressive.

That said, female corn snakes with similar lengths can coexist together. Additionally, you can group corn snakes for breeding purposes. However, once the mating is done, you should return each snake to its separate cage.

How to Tell When Corn Snakes are Aggressive

Similar to rattlesnakes, corn snakes vibrate their tails when sensing danger.

That defensive movement is the corn snake’s way of warning you to back off. What’s more, the vibrating tail can also distract predators.

Other aggressive signs corn snakes can show include:

  • Head fixated on your movement
  • Hissing
  • Striking
  • Making an s-shaped neck (usually means they’re about to strike)

Final Thoughts

So, are corn snakes aggressive? Unless provoked, corn snakes are among the calmest and friendliest pet snakes. Plus, they’re non-poisonous, making them suitable for captivity.

That said, when sensing danger, corn snakes can get highly defensive and start showing aggression. Unsuitable environments and lack of training can also trigger the pet snake to attack its owner.

Additionally, stress resulting from skin shedding, diseases, and high territorial behavior can shift corn snakes’ tame nature to a more hostile one. For that reason, make sure to keep your snake healthy and relaxed so that your reptile pet stays calm and bite-free!

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