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How Good Is a Corn Snake’s Sense of Smell?

How Good Is a Corn Snake’s Sense of Smell?

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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.

Snakes are more commonly pictured as slimy lethal reptiles. Yet to some, they are fascinating creatures and even make for a great pet.

Corn snakes arguably top the list of pet snake choices, due to their gentle temperament and docile nature.

If you’ve recently become interested in snakes, start reading about this common pet breed.

To add to your knowledge base, let’s look into how good is a corn snake’s sense of smell, plus some more interesting facts.

Interesting Facts About Corn Snakes

Corn snakes are a type of rat snake that is native to North America. They are among the most commonly bred species in captivity.

Here are a few more things you may be interested to know about these snakes:


Corn snakes have attractive and variegated belly patterns that look much like Indian maize. There are over 800 morphs documented to date. Some morphs are bred in captivity for their color variation, while others are from natural mutations.

Although brighter than the venomous copperheads, the resemblance endangers and accounts for killings of this kind. Other distinguishing factors of corn snakes include the absence of heat-sensing pits, more slender bodies, and rounder pupils than copperheads.

A corn snake can mature up to three to six feet. This moderate size allows easier care and management for pet owners.

Behavior and Habits

These snakes have a gentle and docile nature that may even enjoy being handled. Though they can strike when threatened, these non-venomous snakes are generally harmless.

In the wild, they love to stay hidden under logs, rocks, or debris which illustrates their solitary nature.

Moreover, they’re typically underground looking for rodents, but may also climb trees from time to time in search of food. Once prey is caught, they constrict it to death before eating.

As pets, they’re fed with thawed-out frozen mice that have been previously killed. A once-a-week or every two weeks frequency is enough depending on their size.

Ecological Contribution

Corn snakes play a significant role in the ecosystem. They help in pest control by preying on rodents and small mammals that damage crops and spread diseases.

How Good Is a Corn Snake’s Sense of Smell?

While reading up about snakes, you may have stumbled upon a study conducted that shows the ability of corn snakes to distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar human scents.

You ask, “How good is a corn snake’s sense of smell?”

Corn snakes have a very developed sense of smell. This makes up for their poor eyesight and absence of external ears.

However, the act of smelling is different than in most animals.

What Is Chemoreception and How Does It Work?

Have you ever wondered why snakes stick their tongues out frequently and quickly? Here’s the answer.

It is part of how snakes smell, a process more aptly called chemoreception; it’s no different in corn snakes.

Chemoreception is the capture of chemical stimuli from the surroundings by the snake’s tongue and reception by the Jacobson’s organ that, in turn, sends signals to the brain.

Although snakes have nostrils, they are mainly used for breathing and not smelling. This is due to the location of the Jacobson’s organ on the roof of the snake’s mouth.

This is where the tongue helps. Its role is to catch air molecules by sticking out, and once inserted back, the tongue delivers the stimuli to the Jacobson’s organ.

Through this “taste” and smell motion, corn snakes can distinguish between prey, predators, and potential mates including their relative location. All thanks to the tongue’s forked structure.

Now, they’re able to decide whether to approach or retract.

How Far Can Corn Snakes Smell?

It would be difficult to come up with a definitive answer as to how far corn snakes can smell. Since scents are picked up from air molecules, they can be carried from a mile away or at close range.

Other elements also factor in like wind direction and saturation of the scent in the air.

All we know is that once corn snakes catch a scent, it is instantaneously processed owing to the chemoreceptors’ proximity to the brain.

Final Thoughts

How good is a corn snake’s sense of smell? It’s as good as it gets, we say.

Relying heavily on chemoreception for movement, these snakes have gone on to adapt from their poor vision and hearing.

More than that, they’ve become well-loved house pets due to their wonderful colors and patterns, and docile nature.

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