How to Sex a Corn Snake: A Comprehensive Guide for Snake Enthusiasts

» Corn Care » How to Sex a Corn Snake: A Comprehensive Guide for Snake Enthusiasts

Are you curious to know how to sex a corn snake? It can be a tricky task to determine the gender of a snake, especially if you are not an experienced handler. Fortunately, this article will provide you with the knowledge and tips you need to be able to identify the gender of a corn snake. We will explain the process of sexing a corn snake, the various methods you can use, and the common mistakes to avoid. By the end of this article, you will be able to confidently sex any corn snake.

Overview of Corn Snakes

Overview Of Corn Snakes
Corn snakes, also known as red rat snakes, are a species of non-venomous snake that are native to the southeastern and central United States. They are popular pet snakes due to their docile nature, attractive coloration, and hardiness. Corn snakes are small to medium-sized, reaching lengths of up to 6 feet. They are typically orange/red with black and brown blotching, though there are also various albino and morph varieties available. Corn snakes are diurnal and primarily terrestrial, but they can also climb. They feed primarily on small rodents, such as mice and rats, but they will also take lizards, birds, and other small prey. Corn snakes are popular in the pet trade, and they have been captive bred in a variety of colors and patterns.

Male and Female Characteristics

Male And Female Characteristics

Characteristic Male Female
Vent Length Short Long
Tail Thickness Thin Thick
Tail Length Long Short
Head Shape Triangular Round
Cloaca Bulge at base of tail Smooth

Male corn snakes generally have a shorter vent length than females, and males have a thinner tail. Additionally, males have a longer tail than females. Male corn snakes have a more triangular-shaped head, while females have a rounder head. Finally, males will have a bulge at the base of the tail, known as the cloaca, while females will have a smooth area.


  • Exhibit a wider head than females.
  • The tail is thicker than the females.
  • The anal scale is divided.
  • Male corn snakes generally have a larger body size than females.
  • The cloacal opening is further away from the vent.



Characteristic Description
Size Generally larger than males
Anal Plate Single, undivided anal plate
Tail Wider than males, especially near tip
Hemipenal Bulge Absent

Techniques for Sexing

Techniques For Sexing

Techniques Description
Probing A slender tool is inserted into the vent of the snake to identify the presence of a male’s hemipenes, which are the male reproductive organs.
Hemipenal Bulges The presence of two bulges near the vent indicates the snake is a male.
Tail Length A male corn snake’s tail is thicker than a female’s near the vent.
Scales Male corn snakes have more curved scales near the vent than females.


When attempting to sex a corn snake, there are several visual indicators that can help to identify the sex. Males typically have larger heads than females, and their tails are usually thicker near the end. Additionally, males will have two raised scales, called hemipenal bulges, located near the vent. On females, these bulges will not be visible.

Males also have a pair of spurs located on either side of their vent. These are typically more pronounced in adult males. Furthermore, when a male is stimulated, he will display a flehmen response, in which he will raise his head and open his mouth, exposing his tongue. Females typically do not display this behavior.



  1. Gently lift the tail of the snake and place it on a flat surface.
  2. Using an index finger and thumb, carefully insert the probe into the vent (cloaca) of the snake which is located at the base of the tail.
  3. Slowly slide the probe downwards until you feel a bump. This is the sex organ of the snake.
  4. Male snakes have one bump on the probe, while female snakes have two.



Method Male Female
Popping Tail will protrude when pressure is applied No change when pressure is applied

Popping is a method to sex a corn snake where pressure is applied to the tail. If the snake is male, the tail will protrude when pressure is applied. However, if the snake is female, there will be no change when pressure is applied.

Step-by-Step Guide for Visual Sexing

Step-By-Step Guide For Visual Sexing

Step Action
1 Turn the snake over and examine the cloaca area, which is located between the vent and the tail.
2 Look for a single row of spurs on either side of the vent, which will be present in males but absent in females.
3 In males, the vent and spurs will form a V-shape, whereas in females the vent will appear as a single point.
4 To get a better view of the vent, lift the tail away from the body and look closely.
5 Males typically have thicker tails than females, but this is not always reliable.

Step-by-Step Guide for Probing

Step-By-Step Guide For Probing

Step Description
1 Gently restrain the snake and expose its vent area. Have a partner help if necessary.
2 Lubricate the probe with a water-based or petroleum-based lubricant, avoiding oil-based products.
3 Insert the probe into the vent of the snake, starting with the blunt end.
4 Gently press the probe further in until you feel a bulge. This bulge is the hemipenis.
5 Slide the probe further in the vent until you can feel the hemipenis opening into the cloaca.
6 Remove the probe and check the hemipenis. Male snakes have a bulbous hemipenis while female snakes have a more pointed hemipenis.

Step-by-Step Guide for Popping

Step Description
1 Gently hold the snake’s tail near the vent and slowly pull the tail away from the body.
2 Once you have the tail pulled away, gently apply pressure to the vent area with your fingers.
3 The vent should pop open, allowing you to see the reproductive organs of the snake.
4 You can then determine the sex of the corn snake by examining the shape and size of the reproductive organs.


Before attempting to sex a corn snake, there are several considerations to keep in mind. First, when handling a corn snake, it is important to be gentle and respectful of the animal. Snakes should be handled as little as possible, and never roughly. Second, corn snakes should be at least 1 year old before attempting to sex them, as they may not be mature enough to accurately identify before then. Third, a corn snake should be of good health before attempting to sex them. Poor health can make it difficult to accurately identify the sex of a snake. Finally, it is important to have a trusted veterinarian or experienced handler help sex a corn snake, as improper handling can cause injury or stress to the animal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between male and female corn snakes?

Male and female corn snakes differ in size, with males typically being larger than females. Male corn snakes also have a longer, thicker tail, while the tail of a female will be shorter and thinner. Additionally, males typically have a more colorful pattern than females, and the underside of a male will be a bright yellow or orange, while the underside of a female will generally be plain white. Male corn snakes also tend to have more prominent spurs at the base of the tail.

What methods can be used to accurately identify the gender of a corn snake?

The best way to sex a corn snake is to use a process called probing. This is done by inserting a thin metal probe into the snake’s cloaca, which is the base of the tail. The probe is inserted until it reaches a certain depth, at which point an experienced handler will be able to accurately determine the sex of the snake based on the size and shape of the probe-accessible organs. Probing is considered to be the most reliable and accurate method of sexing a corn snake. Other methods such as vent sexing or visual examination may yield inaccurate results.

How can the size and color of a corn snake indicate its gender?

Males are typically larger than females and have brighter colors, while females tend to have duller colors. The ventral scales of males are wider than those of females, while females have a longer and more pointed tail. The anal plate in males is divided, while females have a single plate. In addition, males have hemipenal bulges at the base of their tails, which are absent in females. All these differences can help you determine the gender of your corn snake.

Are there any specific behaviors that can help to determine the gender of a corn snake?

Behavioral differences between male and female corn snakes can be observed in the wild, such as the males being more active, often roaming in search of females and engaging in courtship behavior. In captivity, male corn snakes may display more aggressive behavior, and may be more inclined to bite than females. Additionally, males may become more active during breeding season, whereas females may become more sluggish as they prepare to lay eggs.

What are the potential risks of attempting to sex a corn snake?

When attempting to sex a corn snake, the main potential risk is the snake being injured or stressed. Care should be taken to ensure that the snake is handled carefully and not agitated. If the snake is agitated or pinched, it may attempt to bite or defecate, which can pose a risk to the handler. Additionally, it is important to make sure that the venting technique used to sex the corn snake is done properly to avoid causing any damage to the snake’s vent.


Identifying the gender of a corn snake is an easy process that requires observation of physical traits such as the size of the snake, the shape of the tail, and the presence of spurs. If the snake is large and has a thick, blunt tail, it is likely a male. If the snake is smaller and has a slender tail, it is likely a female. Furthermore, the presence of spurs on the underside of the tail can be used to identify the gender of a corn snake.

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