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Corn Snake Notes: History, Breeding Preparations, Color Phases – Part 2

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.

Color Strains

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
  • Sunglow
  • Rootbeer Striped
  • Reverse Okeetee
  • Snow Striped
  • Lavender Motley
  • Hypo Striped
  • Golddust
  • Ghost Striped
  • Ghost Blood Red
  • Creamsickle
  • Christmas
  • Charcoal
  • Caramel motely
  • Butter Striped
  • Black
  • 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!

Further Reading

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.



  1. avatar

    What if I breed my miami corn snake with a male pueblan milksnake? do u have any photos to guide me??

    Oh… and the same but with a nominal corn snake


    • avatar

      Hello Andrew, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      It is possible to inter-breed corn and milk snakes; however, the offspring of such a mating would likely be infertile (this is the usual rule when you cross 2 related species; i.e. tigers and lions/ horses and donkeys can cross, but the young cannot breed). Please be aware also that milk snakes favor other snakes as food, and may attack the corn. Also, the male milk snake may not be stimulated to breed by a female corn – what is usually done in such cases is the breeder will use a female milk snake to excite the male, and then trick him by replacing her with a female corn snake! So – possible but difficult.

      “Miami, nominal, normal” etc. are simply color phases of the same species – all will interbreed and produce fertile young…maybe you will create the next corn snake color phase!

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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