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Corn Snakes vs. King Snakes as Pets: The Full Guide

Corn Snakes vs. King Snakes as Pets: The Full Guide

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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.

Are you a snake enthusiast looking for a new pet? Perhaps you’re interested in animal biology, particularly snakes.

Whatever the case may be, if you’re looking for information on corn snakes and kingsnakes, you’ve come to the right place!

We’ll go over all the facts about these two slithery creatures. This includes their biology, habitat, and all necessary knowledge if you intend to care for them yourself.

Stay with us and we’ll discuss corn snake vs king snake.

Corn Snakes: All You Need to Know

Corn snakes, or Pantherophis guttatus, are a type of non-venomous rat snake that’s native to the U.S.

They derive the name “corn” snake from the fact that they’re usually found in corn granaries, preying on mice.

Physical Description

The colors of corn snakes are a spectrum of brown, orange, and dark red. Their skin colors usually form patterned blotches of red, orange, and yellow, with black outlines all over their back.

On their bellies, you can see a distinctive pattern of black and white rows that resembles a chessboard.

Corn snake patterns and colors vary greatly depending on the region and age of the snake. A hatchling may appear pale compared to the bright and colorful patterns that you can see on adult corn snakes.

These snakes are generally slender. An adult’s length can range from 2 to 6 feet, while their weight can go around 1 to 2 pounds.

The head of a corn snake is pointed and spear-like. For this reason, people sometimes confuse them with venomous copperheads.

In terms of life expectancy, corn snakes can live from 15 to 20 years in human captivity. However, it’s expected to go lower in the wild.


As mentioned earlier, this type of snake is endemic to the U.S. They’re specifically abundant in the eastern parts, like New Jersey, Florida, Louisiana, and some parts of Kentucky.

Corn snakes like to live in overgrown fields, forests, and swamps, where small prey are abundant. You can also see them in old buildings, rocky areas, barns, and farms.


In the wild, corn snakes typically consume a wide variety of food. Their primary prey consists of mice, rats, birds, eggs, and even bats!

Because of their food choice, they consider these snakes to be important in balancing rodent populations. They help prevent diseases associated with these animals from spreading.

Corn snakes are constrictors. This means their eating habit consists mainly of firmly coiling their bodies around their prey until it suffocates.

In addition, some of them are partly arboreal, which means they’re also great climbers. This trait helps them hunt for food efficiently, and it won’t be a surprise if you ever find them chilling on tree branches.

They usually feed once every few days.


March through May is the preferred mating season for corn snakes. Their females are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs that will hatch later on.

They lay about 10 to 30 “clutches” of eggs per mating season. Their favorite spots to put their eggs are in cold, damp spaces like rotten tree stumps and under dead leaves.

Kingsnakes: All You Need to Know

Kingsnakes, or Lampropeltis getula, are non-venomous, terrestrial snakes. They’re among the most common snakes found in North America.

They got their infamous name because of their unusual eating habits. They prey on basically anything they can put their fangs on, including other snakes.

Physical Description

The colors of kingsnakes are usually on the darker side of the spectrum. Their colors are mainly black, brown, and dark red, vividly overlaid by white, yellow, and black “rings.”

Because of these distinctive ring patterns, they’re sometimes called “chain kings.” On their flip side, their belly consists of a yellowish-white scale with alternating brown or black markings.

Kingsnakes are large-bodied reptiles. An adult kingsnake can reach a maximum length of 3 to 6 feet and weigh up to 3 to 5 pounds.

The shape of their heads is typically spoon-like, with round jaws. Their eye pupils, like those of other non-venomous reptiles, are circular.

The life expectancy of these snakes can go from 20 to 30 years in captivity. In the wild, it goes lower for about 10 to 15 years.


You can find the common type of king snake all over the United States, including northern Mexico. They’re commonly found in forests, rocky areas, and grasslands.

During the fall and winter, these snakes usually hibernate underground until spring. Those who live in warmer climates, on the other hand, will only go into a dormant, less active phase.


Their diet is what makes the king snake unique. They have a very wide range of food choices, including lizards, rats, birds, eggs, and other snakes.

Kingsnakes are immune to the venom of deadly snakes. For that reason, venomous snakes, like copperheads, pit vipers, and rattlesnakes, are merely food for them.

They even occasionally eat snakes of their own kind!

Similar to corn snakes, kingsnakes are also constrictors. They rely on their strong jaw and body to constrict and incapacitate their prey.

These snakes are active hunters, detecting prey primarily through scent. They feed a few times a month, depending on their age and size.


Their mating season varies depending on the climate of their homes. Kingsnakes in warmer areas mate earlier than those who live in colder places.

When they’re mating, the male kingsnake seeks out the female by scent. Violent competition between males is also common when these snakes are mating.

Female kingsnakes are oviparous, or egg-laying. The female can lay anywhere from 3 to 24 clutches of eggs.

They typically lay their eggs in secluded and damp places, like rotten logs. After laying their eggs, the mother snake leaves them to hatch on their own.

Corn Snakes vs. Kingsnakes as Pets

After reading the information above, did you become interested in purchasing or adopting one of these snakes as a pet?

If you are, here’s some important information about corn and king snakes that might help you decide:

1 – Cost

Corn and king snakes are among the most recommended types for beginner owners. They’re both low-maintenance and equal in terms of food cost, housing, and care requirements.

If you’re purchasing them from a breeder, kingsnakes can be slightly more expensive because they’re rarer.

2 – Temperament

Both the kingsnake and corn snake are generally docile.

However, between the two, corn snakes are more behaved and easier to handle. They’re laid back and are typically unaggressive.

They don’t mind being held and usually don’t react violently when threatened. When they sense a threat, they “rattle” their tails and imitate the sound of the more fearsome rattlesnakes.

Kingsnakes, on the other hand, have a bit of an attitude. They’re more aggressive and are prone to striking once they feel threatened.

They’re active hunters, which means they’re always ready to strike any moving prey in their vicinity. That’s why, when feeding your king snake, use a holder and make sure to keep your fingers to yourself!

3 – Housing Environment

In terms of housing, these snakes can basically thrive in the same environment. This is because they’re both endemic to the same geographical areas.

With regard to space, however, kingsnakes are more active and require a lot of breathing room.

It’s also important to note that both of these snakes are ectothermic. This means that their body temperature is dependent on their environment.

For that reason, make sure that your enclosure has a thermal gradient. This means positioning the heat source of your vivarium at one end and leaving the other end cool.

This would allow them to move around and control their body temperature accordingly.

4 – Food Consumption

When talking about diet, both snakes share an almost identical food preference. You can feed them rodents, bird eggs, amphibians, and some reptiles.

Corn snakes, however, can be picky eaters. They’re highly sensitive to their surroundings, and any changes can have an impact on their eating habits.

Kingsnakes, on the other hand, will consume anything. As a result, it’s not recommended to mix other smaller snakes with kingsnakes because they’ll most likely get eaten.

You can feed both corn and king snakes once every 7 to 14 days. The quantity and size of food will depend on the age and size of your pet.

Corn Snakes vs. Milk Snakes

Milk snakes, or Lampropeltis triangulum, are a subspecies of kingsnakes. They have nearly identical appearances, with minor differences in behavior and color patterns.

Milk snakes are considerably smaller than corn snakes. If you’re a beginner, milk snakes are a better choice because they’re only about 3 feet long and weigh about 1 to 3 pounds.

In addition, the color of milk snakes is usually brighter than that of corn snakes. Their common base colors are yellow, white, and orange, with red, black, or white stripes.

Concerning habitat, diet, and temperament, milk snakes and corn snakes are basically the same. For this reason, both snakes are good choices as your first household snake pet.

Final Thoughts

Many people consider snakes an odd choice for a pet or subject of interest. However, they’re a great source of delight and fascination for those who can appreciate them.

If you want to coexist with these animals, you must first understand their nature. That’s why snake owners should spend time studying and learning about their pets.

Both kingsnakes and corn snakes are magnificent creatures that make excellent pets. Only their color, certain behaviors, temperament, and size differ.

That being said, it’s not really a case of corn snake vs king snake. It all comes down to personal preference and which slithery beauty appeals to you the most.

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