Corn snakes are very friendly, harmless reptiles that make fantastic pets. But did you ever wonder about their life in the wild?
In today’s guide, we’ll answer questions such as “what are corn snake predators?”, “how do corn snakes protect themselves?”, “What are corn snake preys?”, “how do corn snakes hunt?”, and more.
When people think of snakes, they don’t often expect them to fall prey to other animals. But the truth is, snakes can be the target of a wide variety of predators and the corn snake is no exception.
The most common predators that corn snakes need to watch out for include:
- Other snakes such as coral snakes and kingsnakes
If any of these animals lives or happens to pass within the same range as corn snakes, there’s a good chance they’ll hunt and feed on the reptiles in question.
The likelihood of corn snakes becoming prey to these animals increases when the reptiles are still young as smaller snakes are less able to protect themselves. Juvenile corn snakes can’t deliver as powerful constriction as adults.
That said, do you know what the biggest threat to corn snakes is?
It isn’t one of these animals. Instead, it’s humans.
Unfortunately, people are known to attack corn snakes more than any other predator. It’s mainly due to fear as most folks react to finding corn snakes by killing them.
Granted, the appearance of corn snakes shares many characteristics with that of copperhead snakes, which are a venous species of snake that can kill humans with their bites.
However, killing corn snakes because it’s “better to be safe than sorry” isn’t necessarily the ideal solution. A more reasonable option is to contact professionals who will relocate the snake to a more appropriate habitat rather than kill them.
Aside from humans, corn snakes don’t face many threats. Their conservation status is “least concern.”
With such a list of predators to look out for, you’re probably wondering about the defense mechanisms of a corn snake.
As a non-venomous snake, corn snakes can’t protect themselves by injecting their predator with toxins to paralyze their body and prevent their movement while they slither away. They need to rely on different methods for protection as follows:
Corn snakes are very docile by nature. As such, their initial response to the threat of a predator is to avoid confrontation altogether.
So, it’s normal for corn snakes to flee away from the area when they feel they’re in danger.
Corn snakes are constrictors. This means that their primary “weapon” to kill other animals -whether predator or prey- is the force of their bodies.
Instead of injecting venom, a constrictor snake will wrap its body around the victim and then squeeze its muscles. The contraction force is strong enough to keep the victim’s lungs from expanding, which causes a lack of breathing and, eventually, suffocation.
Once the target has suffocated, the corn snake will move to swallow its whole body starting at the head.
Corn snakes will often freeze up their bodies, stopping all of their movements when they find themselves facing an overwhelming predator. It’s pretty much the corn snake’s version of playing dead and it looks like the reptile is in a state of shock.
By behaving as a statue, there’s a chance that the predator won’t notice the corn snake or stop pursuing it.
Another technique that corn snakes use for protection is acting like a rattlesnake to intimidate potential predators. They do this by vibrating their tails to mimic the movement of a rattlesnake.
Although corn snakes don’t produce venom, their bites can still hurt because they possess teeth.
In some cases, corn snakes will bite if they feel threatened and this is their last resort for defense. In addition to the sharp teeth, corn snake bites may also be harmful to humans due to the bacteria present in the reptiles’ saliva, which can result in various infections.
Corn snakes are quite powerful hunters with an impressive list of prey. The diet of a corn snake in the wild includes:
- Bird eggs
- Smaller snakes
Corn snakes don’t have a taste for insects, unlike some other snake species.
How Do Corn Snakes Hunt?
Corn snakes often hunt in rodent burrows, which are usually located around farms, under buildings or homes, and inside trees.
You should note, however, that the specific diet of a corn snake is largely limited by its size and the prey’s size. This is because corn snakes aren’t venomous.
They’re constrictors, which means that their size should be large enough to dominate the prey. For example, smaller bodies of juvenile corn snakes can make them unable to attack adult rodents.
As we mentioned earlier, corn snakes use the force of their muscles’ contraction to suffocate their prey by preventing their lungs from expanding. After crushing the prey to death, the snake will swallow its body whole.
Corn snakes are a diurnal species, which means that most of their activity happens during the day. They use their extremely strong sense of smell to pick us on the presence of predators and prey in the surrounding area.
Corn snakes can’t see very well, so their sense of smell has to be keen to help them find food and avoid danger. Their nostrils allow them to smell, but their mouths actually do the majority of the work.
Corn snakes use their tongues to collect chemicals from the environment and then transfer them to their Jacobson’s organ. This organ helps the snake’s brain recognize the scent depending on the type of chemicals.
Foxes, opossums, skunks, hawks, owls, bobcats, weasels, and other snakes such as coral snakes and kingsnakes are all suitable answers to the question “what are corn snake predators?”
To protect themselves from predators, corn snakes will either run away, use constriction, freeze up, imitate rattlesnakes, or bite.
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.