Blotches and Patterns: Identifying Corn Snakes by Their Markings


Corn snakes (Pantherophis guttatus) are a popular choice among snake enthusiasts and reptile keepers. They are non-venomous, easy to care for, and come in a variety of captivating colors and patterns. One of the most distinguishing features of corn snakes is their unique markings. These patterns vary among individuals and can help in the process of identifying different corn snake morphs and subspecies. In this article, we will explore the different blotches and patterns found on corn snakes and how they can be used to distinguish various types of corn snakes.

General Characteristics:

Corn snakes are slender snakes with an average length of 3-5 feet. They have a slightly triangular head and smooth scales. Their bodies are cylindrical and are usually orange, reddish, gray, or brownish in color. The dorsal side of the snake is adorned with large reddish-brown blotches, which are bordered by smaller lateral blotches outlined in black. These blotches are the primary markers for identifying corn snakes.

Belly Markings:

In addition to the distinctive blotches on their dorsal side, corn snakes also have bold markings on their belly. The belly is patterned with a black-and-white checkerboard pattern, resembling a chessboard or Indian corn. This pattern consists of alternating black and white squares, creating an eye-catching and unique appearance. The bold belly markings are a key identifier of corn snakes and can be used to differentiate them from other snake species.

Head Markings:

The head of a corn snake also bears unique markings. One common feature is a spear-shaped blotch on top of the head. This spear point pattern is a unique characteristic of corn snakes and can be used to identify them. The color and size of the blotch may vary among individuals, but its presence is a reliable indicator of corn snake identification.

Variations in Markings:

While corn snakes generally have the characteristic reddish-brown blotches bordered by black on their dorsal side, there are variations in their markings. One such variation is the Florida corn snake morph, which is found in the Florida region. The Florida corn snake has a tan-orange base color and reddish-orange blotches. These blotches have black margins, similar to the common Carolina corn snake. The Florida corn snake is highly sought after due to its unique coloration and pattern.

Corn Snake Morphs:

Corn snakes exhibit a wide range of morphs, which are variations in color and pattern due to genetic mutations. These morphs have different combinations and arrangements of blotches, resulting in distinct appearances. Some of the popular corn snake morphs include:

1. Amelanistic: This morph lacks black pigment, resulting in a predominantly orange or yellow body color. The blotches on the dorsal side may be lighter in color, such as pale orange or light brown.

2. Anerythristic: The anerythristic morph lacks red pigment, resulting in a black and white appearance. The blotches on the dorsal side are black, and the background color is usually white, gray, or silver.

3. Snow: Snow corn snakes are the result of breeding an amelanistic corn snake with an anerythristic corn snake. They have a white or pale gray background color, and the blotches are a lighter shade of gray.

4. Ghost: The ghost morph displays a gray or silver body with light gray or white blotches. This morph often has a faded or washed-out appearance.

5. Hypomelanistic: The hypomelanistic morph has reduced black pigment, resulting in a lighter appearance overall. The blotches may be lighter in color, such as tan, light orange, or light brown.

These are just a few examples of the extensive variety of corn snake morphs available. Each morph has its unique combination of colors and patterns, making them highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts.


Corn snakes are fascinating reptiles with striking markings that can help identify different morphs and subspecies. Their dorsal blotches, belly checkerboard pattern, and head markings are key features that enable enthusiasts to distinguish between various types of corn snakes. Whether you are captivated by the traditional Carolina corn snake or intrigued by the unique markings of the Florida corn snake, there is no doubt that corn snakes offer a wide array of stunning patterns and colors for reptile enthusiasts to enjoy.