Usually, knowing the gender of your pet corn snake isn’t a big deal. Even if you have given the snake a female name while being male, and vice versa because you don’t know the gender of the snake.
However, if you want to have a breeding pair of corn snakes, then you’ll need to know how to tell a corn snake’s gender. Or maybe you just want to make sure that you’re giving the right name to your beloved scaly pet.
While methods of checking a corn snake’s gender exist, it’s not easy to do. To be 100% sure of it, you’ll have to consult a veterinarian.
Still, you can check your corn snake’s gender at home. This article will show you how.
There are three reliable methods that you can use to check the gender of your corn snake at home: visual inspection, popping the hemipenis, or probing.
You can also observe the behavior of your corn snake to determine gender, but this isn’t very reliable.
Inspecting your snake visually is the easiest way to check the gender. It’s also the only one that isn’t invasive to the snake’s body, and thus the safest.
Popping and probing are methods that shouldn’t be attempted by an inexperienced snake owner. If you do it wrong, these could potentially harm your snake.
If you have no experience in popping or probing, you should instead bring your snake to a professional snake handler or veterinarian. They can show you how these are done so that you’ll be able to do it by yourself afterward.
However, even if you know how to pop or probe, these methods are unusable as long as your snake isn’t sexually mature. It takes about three years for corn snakes to reach that stage.
Now, let’s take a look at how to tell a corn snake’s gender, and how exactly these techniques work.
Inspecting the snake visually is by far the easiest method. These are the various methods for doing this:
- Find the cloacal opening: The cloacal opening, otherwise known as the vent, is located near the end of the tail. Finding it will make it easier for you to know where to check later on.
- Check the tail: Male corn snakes possess longer, thicker tails than females, while females have short, thin tails. In addition, the tails of female corn snakes also begin tapering off from the cloacal vents.
- Check the hemipenis: Male corn snakes have two tubular organs located inside their tails, while females don’t. These organs are situated below the cloaca, opening on either side of the tail’s midline.
The hemipenis, being on the inside, causes the tail to become somewhat bulged in appearance. They’re not visible from the outside otherwise.
While this might sound like an excruciating procedure, it’s not if you perform it correctly. That being said, you should never try to attempt this method if you’re not an experienced snake owner.
To pop the hemipenis, you need to apply firm, but gentle pressure with one finger to the cloacal vent. It’s best to use your thumb for this.
When this technique is used on a male snake, it causes the hemipenis to temporarily pop out from the cloacal opening. These will look like a pair of red tubes that emerge from both sides of the vent.
This method, however, is the least recommended to use. If the hemipenis doesn’t pop out, it’s difficult to ascertain whether you did it wrong or you had a female snake.
Also, it by far poses the greatest risk for injury to your snake. If done incorrectly with too much pressure, the hemipenis could be permanently stuck outside, requiring surgery to be corrected.
Also, in female snakes, this technique can cause the scent glands to come out of the vent.
This method is exactly what it sounds like. To perform this technique, you’ll have to get a slender metal rod. Rods like these are bought with a kit, which has to be purchased.
Using anything other than these prescribed probes can cause injury to your snake. Before you use the rod, you must first lubricate and sanitize it.
Do not apply pressure when inserting the rod into the snake’s cloacal opening. If the tube doesn’t go down, your corn snake is a female and therefore doesn’t have a hemipenis.
There are no tubes for the rod to go down into a female snake. Instead, there are small scenting glands, which stop the rod from going in any further.
However, if the tube goes deeper into the tail by around nine to 15 scales deep, then the snake is male. This is because the rod has gone into one of the hemipenes.
It’s important not to attempt probing if you’re not an experienced snake handler. It’s very easy to accidentally injure your snake this way.
While not as reliable and definite as the other methods, simply observing how your snake acts can also tell you its gender.
Male corn snakes are far more active than females. Also, males will not consume any food during the mating season.
Another behavioral mark that you can use to determine the gender of your corn snake is shedding.
The shed skin of a male corn snake has two pieces of dried skin situated around the cloacal vent. These pieces are an indication of the hemipenis.
However, if there’s only one small bump near the cloacal vent in the shed skin, then it’s most likely a female’s skin.
As previously mentioned, the most reliable way to know your corn snake’s gender is to have a veterinarian check it. If you have no experience in probing or popping, then you definitely should go to the professionals.
However, there are other methods that they could use to determine the gender of your snake.
X-rays are a middling method when it comes to telling the gender of a snake. It doesn’t have that much of a guarantee for getting the gender right.
However, x-rays are useful when looking for specific gender-related health issues.
The single most reliable way to know the gender of your corn snake is through ultrasound. You could buy an ultrasound machine, but such a costly investment only makes sense if you’re a snake breeder.
Even if you go to the veterinarian, the ultrasound procedure is still expensive. If you’re a regular snake owner, you wouldn’t want to take on the expense.
There are four ways for you to check the gender of your corn snake at home. These are visual inspection, popping the hemipenis, probing, and observing the snake’s behavior.
You shouldn’t try popping and probing if you aren’t experienced. In that case, let a veterinarian or snake handler demonstrate it to you first.
Other methods that veterinarians might use to check the gender of the corn snake are x-ray and ultrasound. X-ray is best for checking for gender-related health issues on your snake.
In the meantime, ultrasound is the most definite way to know the gender of your corn snake, but it’s rather expensive. If you’re not a snake breeder, the costs aren’t that justifiable.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.