If you’re thinking about getting a pet corn snake, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether to get a male or female. While both make excellent pets, there are some key differences between the sexes that are worth considering.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Male corn snakes tend to be slightly smaller and more active than females. Females can grow quite a bit larger, especially when carrying eggs. Males may show some combativeness around breeding season.

Females only breed once per year, while males can breed multiple times. Overall, both sexes make good pets with minimal differences in temperament.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the differences between male and female corn snakes, including size, behavior, breeding habits, and ease of care. Read on to learn which sex may be the right choice for your family!

Size Differences

Males Are Smaller

When it comes to size, male corn snakes tend to be noticeably smaller than females. An adult male typically reaches lengths of 3-4 feet, with some exceptionally large males maxing out around 4.5-5 feet. Females, on the other hand, commonly reach lengths of 4-6 feet.

There are a few reasons for this size discrepancy between the sexes. For one, females need extra body mass and volume to accommodate developing eggs. Producing eggs takes a tremendous amount of energy and resources, so females evolved larger body sizes over time to provide enough space for their reproductive system.

Additionally, the difference in mature size tracks back to how quickly the two sexes grow. Baby corn snakes of both sexes start out around 8-12 inches long after hatching. However, around 1 year of age, females will begin outpacing males in their growth rates.

The more rapid growth allows them to attain greater lengths by the time they reach maturity at 2-3 years old.

Lastly, males may be smaller due to evolutionary pressures. A smaller body size requires fewer resources, so being petite and nimble allows males to put more energy toward reproduction and finding mates rather than sheer growth. It also makes them less conspicuous to predators.

Females Can Get Quite Large

As mentioned above, female corn snakes commonly reach total lengths of 4-6 feet once fully grown. The largest on record can exceed 6-7 feet, though lengths over 6 feet are unusual.

Some key facts about large female corn snakes:

  • Giants tend to come from larger-bodied genetic lineages rather than random mutations.
  • Feeding a growing snake an energy-dense diet supports maximum growth potential.
  • Larger enclosures allow ample room to reach full adult lengths.
  • The world record for longest corn snake is 7 feet 2 inches.

Why do female corn snakes have the potential to get so big compared to males? Again, it comes back to the requirements of bearing offspring. The long abdomens of corn snakes are filled with numerous developing eggs prior to laying a clutch.

This necessitates having a body robust enough to house all those eggs comfortably.

Additionally, a large female has the advantage of being able to produce more eggs per clutch. Within reason, a bigger body allows space for a bigger clutch. This directly translates to greater reproductive success.

So in essence, natural selection favored corn snakes that could attain substantial body sizes capable of supporting sizable clutches. And this evolutionary force acted mainly upon females who do the actual work of producing offspring.

Behavioral Differences

Males Can Be Combative

Male corn snakes tend to be more aggressive and combative than females, especially during the breeding season. The increased testosterone levels in males make them more likely to bite when threatened or handled.

Here are some key behavioral differences between male and female corn snakes:

  • Males engage in ritualized “combat dances” with other males, entwining bodies and attempting to pin their opponent’s head to the ground.
  • Males may spar with and attempt to copulate with other males when scenting a female in breeding condition nearby.
  • Males generally move around more during breeding season, seeking out females.
  • Males may refuse food during peak breeding months as they focus on finding mates.

That said, most male corn snakes can still make very good pets with regular gentle handling. Their natural aggression is usually focused towards other male snakes rather than their human caretakers. With time and patience, even feisty male corns usually calm down and become docile.

Females Are More Docile

Female corn snakes tend to have much more mild, docile temperaments than males of the species. Their hormone levels do not fluctuate as drastically, making them less prone to aggression and defensiveness.

Here are some key differences in female behavior:

  • Females are more likely to try escaping or hiding from a combative male rather than fighting back.
  • Females generally move around less than males, except when searching for suitable nesting sites prior to egg-laying.
  • Females rarely refuse meals, even during breeding season.
  • Females are less likely to bite when handled, especially when gravid (carrying eggs).

The calmer nature of female corn snakes makes them very popular pets. They seldom act defensively towards handlers, even during times of stress like shedding or medical examinations. Overall, female corns have pleasant, tractable personalities that endear them to reptile enthusiasts.

Breeding Habits

Males Can Mate More Frequently

Male corn snakes reach sexual maturity earlier than females, typically around 1-1.5 years old. They are capable of breeding more often than females, and some sources report they can mate every 1-2 weeks during breeding season.

This gives males an advantage in passing on their genes to more offspring over their lifetime.

After a cooling period of 2-3 months during winter brumation, males emerge ready to breed in early spring. They immediately begin seeking females by smelling pheromones and visual cues. Once a receptive female is found, the male will actively court her by aligning their bodies and stroking with his tail.

If accepted, copulation happens soon after.

Males are polygynous, meaning they seek multiple mates each season to maximize reproductive success. Dominant, larger males in good health tend to have more frequent mating opportunities. Their sperm can fertilize multiple clutches from different females during the 3-4 month breeding period.

Females Only Breed Annually

Female corn snakes reach sexual maturity at around 18-24 months old. Unlike males, females usually only breed once per year shortly after emerging from brumation. This is because developing and laying eggs is energetically expensive for the female.

When a receptive female is courted by a male, she may allow him to copulate by raising her tail and gyrating her body. This stimulation helps trigger ovulation so eggs can be fertilized internally. Females are able to store viable sperm inside for weeks to fertilize multiple clutches.

It takes around 24-48 hours post-mating for corn snake eggs to develop. Females then seek out nesting sites with optimal temperatures around 82-88°F to lay their eggs. The average clutch size is 10-15 eggs which are incubated for 50-60 days before hatching.

Producing a clutch takes considerable energy and nutrients from the female’s body. She may not eat regularly while gravid (carrying eggs). For this reason, females in the wild only breed once annually. Captive breeding and optimal feeding allows them to sometimes produce 2 clutches.

Ease of Care

Habitat Needs Are Similar

When it comes to habitat requirements, male and female corn snakes have essentially the same needs. They thrive in a terrarium or enclosure that replicates their native desert environment. This means providing a warm, dry habitat with plenty of hiding spots.

The ideal corn snake habitat should have the following features:

  • A substrate like aspen shavings or reptile carpet that retains minimal moisture.
  • A thermal gradient with a warm side around 85°F and a cool side around 75°F.
  • Hides on both the warm and cool sides so the snake can thermoregulate.
  • Branches, cork tubes, and plants for climbing and hiding opportunities.

You’ll also need an appropriately-sized water dish, preferably shallow so the snake can soak its entire body if needed. Adult corn snakes of both sexes do fine in a 20-40 gallon terrarium. Just make sure it is escape proof with a secure lid!

One small difference in habitat needs is that male corn snakes tend to be more active and explore more. So giving them extra opportunities to climb and multiple hiding spots can be beneficial. But overall, the habitat setup does not need to vary between male and female corn snakes.

Feeding Is Comparable

When it comes to feeding, male and female corn snakes have the same dietary requirements. In captivity, they should be fed pre-killed mice or rats on a regular schedule. The prey size should be approximately the same width as the widest part of the snake’s body.

Hatchlings can be fed pinky mice while adult corn snakes typically eat adult mice or small rat pups. Feed them once every 5-7 days while they are actively growing, and once every 7-10 days for adult maintenance.

One difference is that female corn snakes may eat slightly more when developing eggs. Increase feeding frequency to twice a week or provide prey items that are 10-20% larger when a female is gravid. Otherwise, follow the same feeding guidelines for adult corn snakes of both sexes.

They thrive on a diet of pre-killed rodents offered on a regular schedule.


When it comes to pet corn snakes, males and females both make excellent companion pets with only minor differences. Males stay a bit smaller and can be feistier during breeding season. Females grow larger and only breed once a year.

Habitat, feeding, and general care are nearly identical for both sexes.

The choice between a male or female corn snake largely comes down to your personal preferences. If size is a main factor, females may require a slightly larger habitat as adults. For those seeking to breed, male and female reproductive cycles should be considered.

Be sure to buy from a reputable source.

With their calm demeanor, easy care needs, and longevity, corn snakes of either sex can be rewarding pets. Weigh the pros and cons and decide if a male or female is better suited for you!

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