Please see Part I of this article for information on the history of corn snakes (Elaphe/Pantherophis guttatus) in the pet trade and breeding preparations.
Young herpers may find it hard to believe that there was a time when only normally colored corn snakes were to be found in the pet trade. Today, a bewildering array of color phases and patterns are available, far more than exist for any reptile. I just reviewed a wholesaler’s price list and counted 48 color and pattern strains being offered!
Corn snakes have also been hybridized with closely and even distantly related species, including, respectively, black ratsnakes and gopher snakes. Indeed, the corn snake’s genetic propensity for producing numerous color morphs and hybrids is at the core of its popularity and its value in revealing to us the details of snake color inheritance and captive breeding.
Natural vs. Captive-Produced Corn Snake Colors
Oddly, the naturally colorful “Okeetee Phase” corn snakes are now less in evidence than other forms, and consequently are becoming highly prized. They really are gorgeous, and, in light of their history, hold a special interest for me. However, some of the captive-generated morphs are quite unique and its great fun to work on producing new strains. Some of the more descriptively named corn snake varieties include:
- Sun Kissed
- Rootbeer Striped
- Reverse Okeetee
- Snow Striped
- Lavender Motley
- Hypo Striped
- Ghost Striped
- Ghost Blood Red
- Caramel motely
- Butter Striped
- Albino Recessive Okeetee
- Albino Abberent
I’ve often thought someone should establish a collection comprised of representatives of every known corn snake color phase and hybrid…if you are on your way to that, please let me know!
The taxonomy of corn snakes and related species has been revised in recent years. To view its current status and learn more about corn snake hybrids, please see http://www.jcvi.org/reptiles/species.php?genus=Pantherophis&species=guttatus.