A tremendously variable species comprising many subspecies and colorations. The common colour for the species has a number of red-orange blotches on an orange-grey background colour combined with a black-and-white checked underbelly. The species rarely exceeds 1.2 metres in length with a body diameter of around 2.5cm. In the wild, they usually live around six to eight years, but in captivity can live to an age of 23 years or more. The record for the oldest corn snake in captivity was 32 years and 3 months.
Native to the south-eastern United States ranging from New Jersey to the Florida Keys and as far west as Utah. Corn snakes occur in various habitats such as overgrown fields, forest openings, trees, palmetto flatwoods, and abandoned or seldom-used buildings and farms.
Like all snakes, corn snakes are carnivorous and in the wild, they eat every few days. Most of the diet comprises small mammals and birds, although lizards are also taken frequently. They perform a valuable function around human dwellings by controlling the numbers of rats and mice.
Corn snakes usually breed shortly after the winter cooling. Egg-laying occurs slightly more than a month after mating, with 12–24 eggs deposited into a warm, moist, hidden location. Once laid, the adult snake abandons the eggs and does not return to them. The eggs are oblong with leathery, flexible shells. About 10 weeks after laying, the young snakes use a specialized scale called an egg tooth to slice slits in the eggshell, from which they emerge at about 12cm long.