Corn Snakes

Sexing Corn Snakes

Snakes -> Corn Snakes-> Sexing Corn Snakes

Sexing corn snakes, indeed any species of snake, isn't an easy task.

The males and females aren't different colours, or wildly differing sizes.

They don't have obvious external gentalia and the behaviour is generally very similar between the sexes.

So how on earth do we go about sexing corn snakes?

There are three techniques we can use.

These techniques are known as "popping", "probing" and visual techniques.

The first two should only be used by experienced professionals so if this is your first snake I strongly suggest you stay away from those sexing methods.

You may, however, ask the supplier (if they seem knowledgeable) or an experienced reptile vet to carry then out for you.

Whilst I'm hoping you avoid these at first, let me at least give you a quick description so you'll know what you're talking about when you hear someone else mention it, and it'll also help you understand why you should avoid them until you have some experience.

The principle of both sexing methods is that male snakes have not one but two penises - or one forked penis if you want to be more accurate.

Known as thr hemipenes these organs are internal and during breeding pop out of the male through the vent which can be seen as a small slit on the underside of corn snakes some 70-80% of the way along the snake's body.

Popping can only be done on very young snakes and involves applying pressure on the vent in such a way that the hemipenes will pop out allowing you to sex corn snakes.

Unfortunately this manipulation of the corn snakes genetalia can cause real damage as I'm sure you can imagine if done wrongly.

Probing can be done at any age, but is usually reserved more for older snakes once popping becomes impractical.

This involves the use of special probing apparatus, looking moderately like a pencil made of stainless steel, which is inserted into the vent. Depending on how far the probe can be inserted into the vent the reptile keeper can tell whether it is male or female.

Again, this is not pleasant for your corn snake and if done roughly can cause some serious problems.

So to reiterate, if you're interested in either of these methods please let a professional do it for you.

The last method of sexing corn snakes is to look at the outside of the snake. Unlike the first two methods it isn't foolproof but should give you a very good idea without risking your corn snakes health.

The best way to increase your chances of success with using external characteristics is to have a number of individuals to compare - such as when in a reptile store.

Generally, examining the "tail" area - from the vent back to the most posterior part of the snake, you may see larger bulges in the male due to the hemipenes just behind the vent.

The male's tail will also generally be slightly longer and broader at the vent because of these organs.

Lastly, the males may be thinner overall than the typically more bulky females.

So there you have it - now get busy sexing corn snakes!