Cornsnakes are one of the most popular reptiles for pets due to their very mild temperament and the relative ease of care and breeding. Cornsnakes come in a variety of different colors and patterns. Wild corns or captive bred normal varieties have colors and patterns typical of original corn snakes. This coloration and pattern can be quite variable, but generally include various shades of red, orange, brown, and black. Genetic mutations of the basic wild corn have been discovered and bred into modern captive bred corn snakes.
Corn snakes, also known as Red Rat snakes, are members of the species Pantherophis guttatus (formerly known as Elaphe Gutatta Gutatta). The wild population of corn snakes is native to the southern states of the USA, ranging from Virginia to Texas. Many different varieties are named according to the area where original breeding stock was captured in the wild. Two examples include Miami Corn Snakes, which originated in Southern Florida, and Okeetee, which originated near the Okeetee Hunt Club in North Carolina.
Corn snakes are colubrids, and are closely related to rat snakes and king snakes. They range in length from about 8 – 12 inches for a newly hatched corn to four or five feet for a mature adult. The vast majority of corn snakes sold come from captive breeding; however, they may also be caught in the wild.
The most common color traits of corn snakes are amelanistic and anerytheristic and hypomelanistic. Amelanistic, or albino means lacking melanin or the black pigment. Amels as they are commonly referred to, have the red, orange, yellow and white shades without the black or browns. The anerytheristic trait is lacking the red pigment. There are actually two different types, type A and type B. Type A anery’s have shades of black, gray and yellow, while type B has much reduced yellow, and is mostly just black gray and white. Hypomelanistics (of which there are at least 4 types) refers to traits with reduced melanin, so some of the black is missing, but not all. The different types of hypomelanistic traits are referred to as hypo A or standard hypo, which is the most common hypo trait, hypo B or sunkissed hypo, hypo C or Lava, and hypo D or ultra hypo.
Many of the different colors available are not separate genetic traits, but are just selectively bred to give a particular color pattern. For example, candy cane corns are just amels bred with only red and white. Sunglow corns are amels bred with mostly only orange and yellow, with little or no white. The Dayglow, or fire corn, is an amel that has brilliant red and orange coloration.
The different genetic color traits can be combined to produce other interesting combinations. A combination of amelanistic and anerytheristic A is the snow corn snake, which is mostly white and some yellow. The combination of amelanistic and anerytheristic type B is the Blizzard corn snake, which is usually completely white. Anerytheristic A and hypo A combine to produce the ghost.There are various genetic predictor programs available that give results for different combinations.
There are other colors are associated with a unique gene. These include bloodred, which greatly enhances the red color, and usually causes an enhanced red or even a completely red snake. The butter corn, which is an amelanistic caramel corn snake, has striking yellow coloration. The lavender corn is a unique coloration that has shades of gray and lavender color. While the wild corn snakes have a common blotch type pattern, there have been different patterns discovered through years of captive breeding programs, and these patterns have been bred into corn snakes. The motley pattern is a genetic trait that not only changes the pattern of the blotches, but also changes the color and intensity of the color. A motley pattern has the blotches replaced by a line of circles running along the back of the snake. The motley pattern has also been mutated into solid stripes for the stripe corn snakes, which has darker colored stripes running lengthwise down the sides and back of the snake. Other variations of these patterns include the aztec, hurricane motley, banded, motley banded, etc.