Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)

Sub-order Serpentes, Family Colubridae

Red Cornsnake
Pantherophis guttatus

Photo of Adult Red Cornsnake courtesy of Linh Phu
Photo of Adult Red Cornsnake courtesy of Linh Phu

Size

30 - 48 inches. Record - 72 inches.

Appearance

  • An orange or gray back with red or orangish-red rectangular blotches bordered in black.

  • The orange area between blotches looks like a circle with open sides.

  • The first reddish blotch on the neck is a “U” or “V” with the “spear point” between the eyes.

  • The belly has an irregular black and white checkerboard pattern with black and white striping on the underside of the tail.

  • Scales are weakly keeled.

  • Body shaped like a bread loaf in cross section, flat on the bottom.

  • Illustration of Red Coern Snake's dorsum patterning Photo showing detail on head of Red Cornsnake courtesy of Luke Roberson
    Photo showing detail on
    head of Red Cornsnake
    courtesy of Luke Roberson

    Habitats

    Hardwood forests and pine-dominated agricultural and urban areas, and fields and open grassy areas next to woods.

    How to Find

    An uncommon to rare secretive species that is seldom seen. Look for them primarily during the summer in open dry pine and hardwood forests with loose soils, as they primarily live underground, though they do spend some time in trees. Look under coarse woody debris or drive sandy woods roads slowly at dusk through appropriate habitat. They are not aggressive when handled and seldom bite. Non-venomous.

    Photo of Habitat for Red Corn Snake courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
    Photo of Habitat for Red Corn Snake courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers

    Distribution in Maryland

    Primarily found on the Coastal Plain but there are few records for the Ridge and Valley region of Washington and Allegany Counties.

    Maryland Distribution Map for Red Corn Snake

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    Maryland Amphibian
    and Reptile Atlas Project

    "A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

    For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

    The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.