Are Corn Snakes Venomous?

There are far more non-venomous snakes slithering around our planet than venomous snakes. In fact, less than a third of snake species are venomous. The only place where there are far more venomous snakes than non-venomous is Australia.

Are Corn Snakes Venomous?

The Corn Snake is not a venomous species as they do not use venom when killing their prey.  The snake will constrict and their prey will suffocate until death before they eat them.  This does not mean that they won’t bite.  If these snakes are frightened or threatened they will attack and bite.  Their bite is however harmless.

Venomous vs Non-Venomous Snakes – Some Probable Differences

People who know and love snakes will tell you that there are ways to tell the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes.

If you’re a nature lover and spend a lot of time hiking or camping, it will be to your benefit to know the difference between these snakes.  Some people say that the eyes of a venomous snake have a slit pupil, while the eyes of a non-venomous snake have round pupils. Nothing is set in stone, however, and the Black Mamba and the Coral snake are venomous and yet they have round pupils.

While on the topic of eyes, look for a heat-sensitive pit between the eyes of the venomous snake which is used to locate warm-blooded prey. Non-venomous snakes don’t have these pits.

corn snake

Highly Colored Snakes Don’t Represent Venom

In the United States, there are 4 different types of venomous snakes – Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, Cottonmouths, and Coral snakes. There are so many other snake species, non-venomous snakes included, and many of them have amazing color patterns.

There’s a lot of hogwash on the Internet about the most patterned and most colorful snakes being the most poisonous, but this just isn’t true.  Look at the Eastern Brown Snake of Australia as an example.

This snake is responsible for the most snakebite deaths in the Land Down Under, yet it is an unlikely looking snake. They’re slender and are essentially tan to gray or dark brown. The belly is somewhat lighter, with some orange spots. No brightly colored dots and stripes on this venomous snake.

In fact, it’s pretty impossible trying to distinguish a venomous snake from the non-venomous ones. Many snakes have patterns and there are some venomous snakes that don’t have any patterns. People just assume that because the likes of the Coral Snake has a distinct pattern and is venomous, it applies to most snakes.

The Corn Snake – Colorful but Not Venomous

There are harmless snakes such as the Corn Snake which also has a distinct pattern. This snake has some bright colors but you couldn’t get a more harmless non-venomous snake. These snakes are members of the rat-snake family-Colubridae. Rat snakes aren’t venomous, so they kill their prey by means of suffocation or strangulation.

Corn snakes come from North America and they subdue their small prey by constriction. The snake’s prey is an assortment of rodents, lizards, frogs, birds, and eggs. The snake actually belongs to the group of snakes known as constrictors. They wrap their body around a rodent, squeezing the very life out of it. The snake will then proceed to slowly swallow the prey whole.

Similar in Looks to the Venomous Copperhead

When you look at the Corn Snake, for those who believe venomous snakes are the colorful ones, you can’ be blamed for thinking that the Corn Snake is venomous.

It’s a slender snake that is orangey-brown or yellow and with big red splashes of color surrounded by black. This pattern runs down the middle of the back. If that’s not enough to convince you that the snake could be venomous, the alternating rows of black and white marks on the belly remind one of a checkerboard.  Any inexperienced snake keeper might well believe that the Cornsnake is venomous. And yet don’t be deceived – it’s a non-venomous snake.

It is these bright colors of the Corn Snake that have caused many people to kill them even when they are not venomous. It’s because they share similarities in appearance with poisonous snakes, one of which is the Copperhead.

Copperhead Snake

Copperhead Snake

These two snakes look very similar in appearance, but the Copperhead comes from the viper family. These snakes, unlike the Cornsnake, make use of their deadly venom to subdue their prey.

Venomous Hybrids

With Corn snakes in captivity, breeders have been at work coming up with a host of different color patterns known as morphs. These can include white, black, spots and stripes as well as solid coloring. There are some breeders who have even bred the Corn Snake with other snake species to produce hybrids. These hybrids are referred to as Jungle Corn Snakes.

These snakes can be more venomous, depending on what the other snake is. Hybrids have been created in captivity but none of them have levels of toxic venom which can kill someone.

A Useful and Necessary Non-Venomous Snake

Killing a Cornsnake is senseless because these snakes do a wonderful job keeping the rat population numbers down.

Ultimately they are preventing the spread of diseases as well as preventing further damage to crops by rats. Due to the lovely colors of the Corn Snake and the fact that they don’t bite often, they are one of the most popular types of snake people keep for pets.


The Corn Snake can Bite

Bright though the Corn Snake may be, these non-venomous snakes rarely bite either. In fact, there have never been any recorded deaths caused by a bite from a Corn snake. The mouth of the Corn snake is small and they are only able to eat small prey such as rodents and mice. There is not even a remote chance that a Corn snake can devour a human being.

Some snake experts refer to all teeth of snakes as fangs while others say that non-venomous snakes don’t have fangs, but have rows of teeth instead..The fangs then of the Corn snake aren’t big and this is what also goes towards making this snake so popular to keep as a pet.

The small fangs of the snake are aligned in a row on the sides of the mouth. They are all the same length. The role of the fangs is to move the prey back into the throat where it can be swallowed and then later digested.

The Corn snake, just like other snakes, will grow another fang back if it loses one. This ensures that the hunting- and eating abilities of the snake aren’t jeopardized.

Corn Snakes Are Placid

They’re calm snakes, but even so, if startled or frightened, they can bite. You may not even notice though as the pain is minimal. There may be a little bit of blood. Snake keepers hardly ever get bitten by an adult Corn Snake. If you do get bitten by these placid snakes, nobody will have to dart around looking for anti-venom for you with this non-venomous snake.

You’re not going to require any special treatment. The idea is to remain calm around your Corn Snake so that he can let go of you. Snake experts tell us that you can spurt some cold water over the snake’s head which should make it release its jaw.

Baby Corns can also bite, but as the adults, they are also not venomous. A bite from these young snakes will scarcely break your skin. The babies are born with tiny teeth but they’re of no threat. When one bites you, the wound is small and you can treat it yourself.

It is always advised to clean your snake wound. Rinse it with clean water and with an anti-bacterial soap.  Dry the wound with a clean towel and leave the bite wound free of a plaster.

Snake Bites and the Threat of Salmonella

With any snake bite, because a snake is a carnivore, you have to be looking out for salmonella. Salmonella comes from raw food such as meat and eggs. If you do get salmonella, symptoms will start to show up 12 to 72 hours after being bitten or infected.

do corn snakes bite

There are a few unpleasant symptoms you might experience – fever,  diarrhea, cramps, and vomiting, and these symptoms could continue for up to a week. They should all clear up on their own without any medical treatment being required from a doctor.  Of course, if you don’t get better you will need to see a medical doctor.

Avoid being Bitten

Whether you’re dealing with a venomous or non-venomous snake, you can take some steps to avoid being bitten. Non-venomous snakes such as the Corn Snake aren’t looking for conflict. They strike out when they’ve been injured or your actions are threatening.

Simple tips to avoid a snake bite includes –

  • When walking out in the wilds, wear boots that come up over the ankles.
  • Try and avoid tall grass, rocks, and piles of leaves.
  • Don’t put your hand into grooves and crevices of rocks.
  • Avoid walking around at night where it is considered nocturnal snake territory.
  • When handling a snake in captivity, avoid quick, clumsy movements.

A Docile, Non-Venomous Snake for the First-Time Snake Owner

One of the biggest advantages about keeping a pet snake such as the Corn snake is that it is a non-venomous snake, it is docile and it isn’t a temperamental snake. It is a great first-time snake for beginners. It is able to tolerate quite a lot of human handling without even thinking of giving you a bite.


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