Corn Snake Lifespan – How Long Do Corn Snakes Live

Corn Snake Lifespan

Corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus), also known as red rat snakes, are a nonvenomous species of North American rat snake that belong to the family Colubridae.

They are primarily found throughout the southeastern and central United States and are known for their docile nature.

These snakes are characterized by their slender build and distinctive color patterns; they are typically orange or brownish-yellow with large red blotches outlined in black down their backs, and their bellies feature rows of alternating black and white marks that resemble a checkerboard pattern.

Let’s Find out How Long Do Corn Snakes Live as a pet and in the wild.

Corn Snake Lifespan – How Long Do Corn Snakes Live

How Long Do Corn Snakes Live
How Long Do Corn Snakes Live

The average lifespan of Corn Snake is 15-20 years as a pet in captivity. In the wild corn snakes can live 6-8 years on average.

Some may live up to 23 years or more, and the oldest recorded corn snake in captivity reached an age of 32 years and 3 months.

It’s also noted that with the right conditions, it is not unusual for pet corn snakes to reach 15-20 years of age.

Factors that influence corn snake lifecycle include genetics/breeding, housing conditions, diet/feeding, temperatures & humidity, disease exposure, and general care/handling stress levels.

Signs of aging may start between 10-15 years old, where they may be less active, change feeding habits, or have faded colors. Providing adequate temperatures, hides, water and an easily accessible habitat can help manage geriatric snakes.

Corn Snake Lifespan in Captivity

Corn Snake Lifespan in Captivity
Corn Snake Lifespan in Captivity

According to experts, the average lifespan of a pet corn snake in captivity is typically 15 to 20 years. With exceptional care, some have lived over 25 years or more in captivity.

Hatchlings that survive through the first few months have a high probability of reaching the 15-20 year range with proper care. The first year of life is the most vulnerable time.

Corn Snake Lifespan in the Wild

Corn Snake Lifespan in the Wild
Corn Snake Lifespan in the Wild

The average lifespan for a wild corn snake is estimated to be between 6-8 years. This is considerably lower than the 15-20+ year lifespan seen in well-cared for captive snakes.

The oldest reported ages found amongst wild caught specimens are around 12-15 years old. But only a small minority experience this longevity.

In the wild, corn snakes face threats from predators, parasites, illness/disease, difficulty finding food year-round, temperature extremes, and injury. Few survive to become old snakes compared to those kept in enclosures.

Wild hatchlings under a year old have high mortality rates from both predation and weather/environmental challenges. Less than 25% on average survive to their adult sizes.

The stress of breeding, producing eggs, and finding suitable nesting environments also may shorten lifespans of mature breeding wild snakes compared to non-reproducing captive pets.

What is Corn Snake Average Lifecycle

Corn Snake Average Lifecycle
Corn Snake Lifecycle

Corn snakes have distinct hatchling, juvenile, and adult life stages marked by rapid maturation at first followed by long steady adult lifespans as pets or in situ wild snakes. With care the adult phase represents the majority of their life cycle.

  • Baby Stage: Corn snakes are considered babies from hatching until they reach about 8 to 14 inches in length. They should shed within 7 days of hatching and will continue to shed every few months as they grow.
  • Juvenile Stage: When they measure 20 to 30 inches, they are juveniles. This rapid growth phase occurs primarily within the first year of life. Healthy adult corn snakes in optimal conditions will typically measure 4-6 feet nose to tail depending on whether male or female (females are larger).
  • Adult Stage: Adult size is reached when they are between 24 to 70 inches long. At this stage, males can be distinguished from females as they are generally larger. After their juvenile growth phase, corn snakes will continue to periodically shed their skin to allow for gradual size increases. As adults though, they are mainly increasing muscle mass rather than length.

Factors that influence growth and size include the snake’s habitat, temperature and humidity levels in the enclosure, and feeding. A warm enclosure of around 85ºF with a humidity level between 40% and 50% is ideal. Hatchlings should be fed every five days, juveniles every 7 to 10 days, and adults every two to three weeks, with the prey size increasing as the snake grows.

Factors That Impact Corn Snake Lifespan

Factors That Impact Corn Snake Lifespan
Factors That Impact Corn Snake Lifespan

Several factors impact the lifespan of corn snakes, especially in captivity, and also in the wild.

  1. Genetics – Some bloodlines just have greater longevity programmed in. Selective captive breeding can produce lines predisposed to long lifespans.
  2. Housing – Appropriately sized enclosures, proper temperatures & humidity, clean bedding/water, and security from stress are key to supporting long healthy lives.
  3. Diet – Providing an adequate rodent-based diet supports growth and development. Appropriate feeding intervals and nutritional balance helps prevent obesity issues.
  4. Disease & Injury Prevention – Pathogens, parasites, fungal infections, mites and more can be detrimental. Avoiding injury from improper handling also reduces mortality risks.
  5. Brumation Cycles – Allowing appropriate seasonal cooling/heating cycles supports metabolic health. Both avoiding and overdoing brumation are risks.
  6. Age of First Breeding – Delaying initial breeding in captivity beyond the first year, when they reach full adult size and minerals, may enable greater lifespans.
  7. Predator & Threat Avoidance – For wild snakes, minimizing attacks from predators, automobiles, lawn equipment, climate extremes etc. can give them a better chance at longer life.

How to Make Corn Snake Live Long

Proper care for a corn snake involves several aspects to ensure a long and healthy life for your pet:

Diet and Feeding:

  • Offer a diet primarily of mice and rats, suitable for the snake’s size.
  • Hatchlings should be fed once every 7 days, juveniles every 7 to 14 days, and adults every 14 to 21 days.
  • Prey items should not be larger than 1.5 times the snake’s diameter.
  • Supplement the diet with calcium or vitamin supplements occasionally

Habitat and Tank Setup:

  • House adults in at least a 30-gallon tank with ample room for climbing and burrowing.
  • Maintain a temperature gradient with a basking surface at 90°F, ambient temperature 78-82°F, and a cool zone at 75°F.
  • Ensure humidity levels are between 40-50%.
  • Provide a suitable substrate like aspen shavings or cypress mulch for burrowing.
  • Include hiding spots, climbing branches, and appropriate lighting

General Health:

  • Corn snakes are generally hardy but watch for signs of poor shedding (dysecdysis) or skin infections (pustular dermatitis).
  • Keeping the enclosure clean, with proper humidity and temperatures, can prevent many common health issues

Handling and Bonding:

  • Allow a new corn snake to acclimate to its environment before handling, typically about 2 weeks.
  • Begin with short handling sessions and gradually increase as the snake becomes accustomed to interaction.
  • Handle your snake gently from the side and support as much of its body as possible

By providing an enriching habitat and appropriate care with respect to diet, environment, veterinary needs, and gentle handling, corn snake owners can optimize health, welfare, activity levels, and lifespan of their pet snake.

About Dean Eby

An avid outdoorsman, Dean spends much of his time adventuring through the diverse terrain of the southwest United States with his closest companion, his dog, Gohan. He gains experience on a full-time journey of exploration. For Dean, few passions lie closer to his heart than learning. An apt researcher and reader, he loves to investigate interesting topics such as history, economics, relationships, pets, politics, and more.

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