Rat Snake Corn Snake

Rat Snake vs. Corn Snake: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to choosing the right snake as a pet, two of the most commonly debated options are the rat snake and the corn snake. These two species share many physical and behavioral similarities, making it challenging to tell them apart. However, there are also many differences between them that you need to consider when deciding which snake is right for you. In this article, we provide a comprehensive guide of the differences and similarities between the rat snake and corn snake to help you make an informed decision.

Physical Appearance

Both the rat snake and corn snake are similar in appearance, sharing a sleek and slender body, a pointed head, and constricting abilities. However, several distinguishable features set them apart. Rat snakes tend to have a more elongated head than corn snakes, while corn snakes have a more triangular or heart-shaped head. Rat snakes also have smooth belly scales, while corn snakes have keeled scales on their bellies.

In terms of color, both species exhibit a range of colors and patterns. Rat snakes come in various colors, including brown, gray, yellow, and white, with bold patterns that often resemble those of a rattlesnake. Corn snakes also come in various colors, but they are known for their orange or red coloring that resembles the kernel of corn, hence the name corn snake.


Rat snakes tend to grow larger than corn snakes, with an average length of 3 to 5 feet. Corn snakes, on the other hand, grow to an average length of 2 to 4 feet. Both species can grow larger or smaller depending on various factors such as diet and environment.


Both rat snakes and corn snakes are docile and non-venomous. They do, however, have constricting abilities, meaning they can coil around their prey to suffocate them. However, this behavior shouldn’t be a concern for snake owners as both species feed on rodents and other small mammals.

Rat snakes tend to be more active and outgoing than corn snakes, and they are less likely to be shy or nervous when being handled. They also tend to be more agile and spends more time climbing and moving around.

On the other hand, corn snakes are known to be more docile and easy-going. They are less active than rat snakes and prefer to spend most of their time in hiding or burrowing. Corn snakes are known for their tendency to ball up, covering their head with their body, making them a more manageable and less intimidating pet snake.

Environment and Habitat

Both rat snakes and corn snakes are commonly found in North and South America. They are adaptable to various environments and can thrive in forests, fields, grasslands, swamps, and even suburban areas.

If you are looking to keep a rat snake, it is essential to provide them with a spacious terrarium with plenty of climbing objects and hiding spots, like branches, logs, and rocks. Rat snakes need a warm and humid environment, so a heat lamp or heating pad is necessary to maintain a temperature range of 75-85°F.

Similarly, corn snakes need a comfortable and spacious enclosure with multiple hiding spots and climbing objects, such as a hollow log, a small rock cave, or a tree branch. A temperature range of 75-85°F with a basking spot of around 90°F is optimal.


Both rat snakes and corn snakes are carnivorous and feed primarily on rodents, such as mice and rats. They can also eat other small mammals, lizards, and sometimes even newly hatched birds.

For baby snakes, a diet of pinky mice is recommended, gradually increasing the size of the prey as they grow. As adult snakes, they can feed on adult mice, small rats, or even quails. Feed your snake once every week to 10 days, and ensure to provide clean water at all times.


In summary, both rat snakes and corn snakes make excellent pet snakes, with many similarities and some significant differences. Rat snakes tend to be more active and outgoing, while corn snakes are known to be more docile and easy-going. Rat snakes tend to be larger than corn snakes, and they have an elongated head and smooth belly scales, while corn snakes have a triangular head and keeled belly scales. When it comes down to it, the choice between a corn snake or a rat snake will ultimately depend on personal preference and what you are looking for in a pet snake.