American corn snake

Alert

Have you seen American corn snake?

Be on the lookout for American corn snake and report it to Biosecurity Queensland. Early detection and reporting are the key elements in controlling American corn snake.

Call us on 13 25 23.

Native to North America, the American corn snake takes its name from the pattern on its underside, which resembles multicoloured corn.

American corn snakes are popular pets in countries other than Australia, and are harmless to humans (although they will strike if disturbed). However, they do prey on small animals, coiling around their victims and suffocating them. If released into the wild in Australia, corn snakes could prey on and out-compete native species. To prevent them from establishing in Queensland, restrictions apply to their import, possession and sale.

The American corn snake is a prohibited invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Pantherophis guttatus

Description

  • Constrictor snake, generally with vivid reddish or orange blotches edged in black on grey or orange background, reaching adult length of 1-1.5m within 3-5 years.
  • Skin colour intensifies with age.
  • Albino or light-coloured specimens are readily available in American and European pet trade.
  • Pattern on underside resembles multicoloured ornamental corn.

Habitat

  • Inhabits dry fields, open woodlands, grasslands and rock hillsides.
  • Highly suited to Australian conditions.

Distribution

  • Not yet recorded in Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Usually breeds after winter.
  • Average clutch size is 10-12 eggs, but can lay up to 30 eggs.
  • Sexually mature at 600 days.
  • Can live for up to 25 years.

Affected animals

  • Native species
  • small mammals
  • reptiles

Impacts

Environmental

  • Eats native species.
  • Out-competes native species for resources.
  • Could spread exotic reptile diseases.

Social

  • Traded through illegal pet market.

Natural enemies

  • Large birds and other reptiles (including snakes).

Control

  • Early detection is essential for preventing pest establishment. If you have seen or are in possession of an American corn snake, contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Legal requirements

  • The American corn snake is a prohibited invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be kept, moved, fed, given away or sold without a permit.
  • The Act requires that all sightings to be reported to Biosecurity Queensland within 24 hours.
  • By law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risk of American corn snakes escaping until they receive advice from an authorised officer.

Further information