Corn snakes belong to the vast Colubridae family, a group of non-venomous constrictors, most of which are native to North America. Along with a few other fascinating species, such as rosy boas and ball pythons, corn snakes make very popular pets, especially in the United States. They are docile, even-tempered, and tolerant of extended periods of handling.
But the main cause for their popularity is the fabulous array of color morphs available to pet owners!
What is a lavender corn snake? The lavender morph is one of many different corn snake morphs—these morphs are basically different color palettes of the same snake. Lavenders are light pink, with dark purple-grey markings and striking, burgundy colored eyes.
What unites rosy boas, ball pythons and corn snakes is the starting smorgasbord of possible color combinations. While these are in part due to domestic breeding programs carried out by professional breeders and herpetologists, they could not exist without the naturally occurring base morphs. These are like a painter’s tubes of paint, with which she can mix myriad colors and paint limitless patterns.
The same goes for different corn snake morphs. New designer morphs, or variations, become available every year, as breeders and herpetologists better understand the genetics involved. I’ll cover the basics here, but I’m sure there are entire books on the subject, not to mention working professionals you can talk to if you want to try it out for yourself!
In this guide, I’ll cover just about everything you need to know about lavender corn snakes, their weird and wonderful ways, and how their genetics work. For example, read on to find out:
- How big lavender corn snakes can grow;
- The lifespan of lavender corn snakes, in the wild and in captivity;
- Where lavender corn snakes like to live, and how you can recreate their favorite habitats in your enclosure;
- Where to go, geographically, if you want to see a lavender corn snake in the wild;
- How to identify lavender corn snakes, and differentiate between them and all the other corn snakes out there;
- How the lavender morph came into being in the first place;
- The way in which lavender corn snake genetics work, and which designer morphs are dependent on the lavender morph for their existence!
- Lastly, how to breed lavender corn snakes, and how much you can sell them for—or how much you should set aside if you want to get your hands on one.
As always, we’ve a lot to get through. I hope you’re ready. Let’s get started!
1. How big are lavender corn snakes?
Short answer: 2-6 ft. This is a big range, so allow me to explain.
Like I said briefly earlier, morphs are aesthetic variations on the same theme. What I mean is, they may have vastly different appearances from each other – one may be dark and patterned, while the other is light-scaled and pattern-free – but they are all essentially the same.
As such, if given the same chances of survival, they will all grow to approximately the same length, live for the same number of years, and so on.
Of course, there are complex reasons why some morphs live less long in the wild. For example, albinos of any species are more visible to predators, and therefore might not last as long in the wild as their normal-colored cousins.
The record length of an adult corn snake is 6 ft, but they tend to level out at between 3 and 5 ft. As a rule, enclosures should allow the snake to stretch out fully. So if you plan on keeping a corn snake, I recommend you purchase a large enclosure beforehand, to allow for a maximum growth of 6 ft!
Corn snakes are easy to care for, barring one thing: they are skilled escape artists. To prevent household frights, make sure your enclosure has lockable doors. While corn snakes are essentially harmless, any snake can be a frightening sight in the dark!
2. What is the typical lifespan of a lavender corn snake?
The oldest corn snake in captivity lived for 32 years and 3 months, but that was an exception. Wild corn snakes tend to live around 6 to 8 years, while snakes born and bred in captivity often live for 20 years or more.
Lavender corn snakes have the same predicted lifespan of any other corn snake, whether they live in the wild or in captivity.
Important note: Snakes are creatures of habit, and do not adjust well to drastic changes! Do not capture and domesticate a wild snake. An attempt to do so could lead to severe psychological damage, or even death. The transition from a wild to captive environment can be very stressful for any snake, and corn snakes are no exception. Instead, buy a captive-born snake from a professional breeder, and leave wild snakes alone.
3. Lavender corn snake habitats – can they be found in the wild?
Corn snakes are among the most commonly bred snakes in the United States. There are hundreds of variations available to pet owners, thanks to decades of genetic experimentation by snake breeders and herpetologists.
While there are a number of naturally occurring base color morphs, the lavender corn snake is a captive-bred morph. It was first produced in the 1980s, when a snow corn snake was mated with a wild-caught female. The lavender morph was thus artificially produced. So if you go looking for one in the wild, you won’t find one.
Wild corn snakes like habitats such as overgrown fields, abandoned buildings, farmland (especially corn fields), flat woods and longleaf pine forests. They are spread across the southeastern United States, from New Jersey in the east, Florida in the south, to the Mississippi in the west.
In colder climates, they seek subterranean refuge in mammal burrows or stump holes. In the warmer months, they find their way into abandoned buildings or invade the burrows of rodents to hunt for prey, and have even been known to climb trees.
There are multiple theories about where they got their name. One such theory is that it was attributed to them because of their preference for corn fields; another is that they earned it while hiding out in corn storage barns, where rodents are often found.
But, like I said, if you go looking for lavender corn snakes in the wild, you’ll be hard pressed to find one!
The naturally occurring corn snakes, or ‘wildtypes’, are:
- Keys (Rosy Ratsnake),
- Normal (Carolina, Classic, Wild Type),
4. What does a lavender corn snake look like?
Lavender corn snakes vary in color contrast and pattern evenness. However, as a rule, they exhibit the following features:
- Light pink-grey background color;
- Darker, purple-grey markings, in a regular pattern running from head to tail, evenly spaced but varying in size;
- Reddish eyes, from ruby at the brightest and lightest, to burgundy or even maroon at the darkest.
- Pale, white or off-white bellies, with a sparser, boldly checked dark or blackish belly pattern.
Corn snakes also have distinctive heads, with a spear-shaped blotch over the crown of the skull, and often have dark vertical bars on their lips.
Corn snakes vs. Copperheads
Corn snakes have been mistaken for copperheads, and maimed or killed by frightened passers-by. To the untrained eye, the confusion is understandable. However, to anyone familiar with these snakes, the resemblance should slip away. They are actually easy to tell apart.
Please, if you live in an area where corn snakes are prevalent, learn the telltale signs to avoid bringing about a harmless corn snake’s an untimely end.
Here’s a list of the ways in which you can tell a corn snake apart from a copperhead, and save a life while doing so!
- Copperheads have hourglass-shaped markings, whereas a corn snake’s pattern is blotchy and random.
- Copperheads do not have a black and white checkered belly, whereas corn snakes do.
- Corn snakes are more slender of build.
- They also have round pupils (if you get close enough to tell), while copperheads have vertical slit pupils.
- Corn snakes do not have heat-sensing pits behind their eyes—this may be tricky to spot, but in case you’ve got an eye for it, there it is!
Corn snakes are actually beneficial to human populations. Their parent species – rat snakes – as the name suggests, predominantly feed on rodents. Without healthy populations of rat snakes, rodents would likely take out a large portion of arable crops.
5. Lavender corn snake genes – how does it all work?
Lavender is a base morph, and was first produced in the 1980s. The gene which codes for lavender coloration is recessive, which means two lavender alleles must be present in the mating pair, one in each, for it to be exhibited in the offspring.
The genetic processes behind breeding lavenders are not terribly complex, but they do require a basic understanding of basic genetic terminologies. I’ll go into more detail on how to breed lavender corn snakes below.
First, I’ll run you through a bunch of beautiful designer corn snake morphs which cannot be created without the lavender gene, with some basic details about each one.
6. Which other corn snake designer morphs require the lavender gene?
These morphs cannot be created without the lavender:
Hypo Lavender Corn Snake = hypomelanistic + lavender
Cost: from $80.
Description: hypo lavender hatchlings show their color well, but lose it as they approach adulthood. The hypomelanistic gene codes for a limited supply of dark pigmentation. As a result, the red pigmentation is more pronounced, and so these corn snakes begin their lives with a maroon-red and pale pink alternating pattern. As they grow older, both hues fade, and appear washed out. They have dark grey eyes, and pale patches which grow within their darker markings.
Orchid Corn Snake = lavender + sunkissed
Description: left to its own devices, the sunkissed gene is expressed as a bright, burnt orange color—as the name suggests. Combined with the lavender gene, this is greatly compromised. Hatchlings still evince a hint of this, and can be reddish orange at their brightest, but this quickly fades. As adults, they have a pale, pink-orange background color with whitish-pink blotches, each bounded by a thick line of darker purple-white.
Lavender Motley Corn Snake = lavender + motley
Cost: from $90.
Description: lavender motley hatchlings are orange pink, and relatively vivid, with paler orange-cream blotches and lines, in an irregular pattern. As the snakes grow older, this fades. In adulthood, the pattern still has a suggestion of orange, but it is very faint.
Plasma Corn Snake = diffused + lavender
Description: diffused and lavender are both recessive genes. When expressed in a homozygous (i.e., having two diffused alleles) snake, the diffused gene codes for an almost entirely red snake, very dark and very visually striking. However, when expressed in combination with the lavender gene, the redness fades to only a suggestion. As hatchlings, plasmas have a pronounced pattern, but are almost entirely monochrome. As they develop, become juveniles and ultimately adults, the pattern fades to an almost block grey, with only a hint of the diffused redness. The plasma corn snake has a pale belly and very dark eyes.
Moonstone Corn Snake (Anery Lavender) = anerythristic + lavender
Description: also known as the anery lavender, the moonstone corn snake’s black-hole eyes strike a startling contrast against the pale pallor of its face. The anerythristic gene codes for a lack of red pigmentation. As a result, the moonstone’s eyes are almost completely black, and lend the snake a strange, mysterious aspect. As a hatchling, its pattern is pronounced, whereas in adulthood it is faded. Still, it is easily visible, and bluer than the lavender-colored patterns of its red-pigmented counterparts. If cold were a color, it would look something like the anery lavender.
Amaretto Corn Snake (Amber Lavender) = caramel + hypomelanistic + lavender
Description: also known as an amber lavender corn snake, this snake is a combination of 3 recessive genes. Its pattern is faded and ghostly, especially as the snake approaches adulthood. As hatchlings, the pale pink / pale purple pattern is relatively pronounced, with darkened edges providing rich demarcations to the overlaying pattern. However, as adults, they tend to look washed out. This is due to the hypomelanism which they exhibit—this gene codes for low melanin production, though not a complete lack of it. This combination of the lavender gene, hypomelanism and the caramel base morph make for a very pale coloration. They have dark red, almost black eyes.
Lavender Tessera Corn Snake = lavender + tessera
Description: the tessera gene is dominant, which means it is always expressed. In this case, it out-expresses the lavender gene. Lavender tessera snakes have, as the name suggests, a tessellated pattern, which almost looks computer-generated. Like the others on this list, they have a base color of pale pinkish grey, but the overlaid pattern is dark in contrast, and can cover much of the top half of the snake.
Opal Corn Snake = amelanistic (albino) + lavender
Cost: from $200.
Description: 2 recessive genes. Opals start out as hatchlings with a relatively distinct pattern. The pale pink background hosts a striking, peach-pink pattern of regular blotches. This pattern is starker in some than in others. Then, as the snake matures, its pattern fades to almost invisible, and it grows into a pallid, pale snake with barely any markings at all.
Lavender Stripe Corn Snake = lavender + stripe
Description: these 2 recessive genes code for color and pattern respectively, so they can both be expressed in the phenotype without direct competition. While the contrast from light to dark coloration varies, the result is invariably striking. The pale pink-white background color is juxtaposed with thick bands of a tawny purple hue.
Lavender Ghost Corn Snake = anerythristic + hypomelanistic + lavender
Description: 3 recessive genes in combination produce this pallid, ghostly and waif-like snake. Its reduced dark and red pigmentations make for an otherworldly appearance. Its eyes are dark red, and appear almost black. This is a rare combination, so if you want to get your hands on one, good luck!
For a constantly updated list of corn snake morphs, visit Ians Vivarium. It is a very useful resource, especially if you are interested in breeding corn snakes.
7. How to breed lavender corn snakes
Lavender is a base morph, and is usually used in conjunction with another base morph to produce a secondary, or ‘designer’ morph.
As I mentioned earlier, the gene which codes for the lavender morph is recessive. This means that the only way to ensure you produce a lavender corn snake is to mate two lavender corn snakes together.
Lavender corn snakes are bred in captivity, by special breeders. The mating season typically runs from March to May, and an egg clutch contains any number from 10 to 30 eggs.
The steps in successfully breeding any two corn snake morphs together are essentially the same, and are as follows:
- The female lays eggs in a warm, earthy, cosy place. In the wild, this must be somewhere secluded and safe, out of reach of predators. In captivity, a nest box is recommended, or simply a closed-off, darkened area within the enclosure. Common spots in the wild include inside trees, or under rotting stumps or vegetation. Humidity is crucial.
- Once laid, the female does not return to her eggs. Instead, they must fend for themselves.
- Approximately 2 months later (or up to 3), the eggs will hatch. Again, the mother will not return to the clutch, even after they have hatched. So the hatchlings must immediately look after themselves.
- Healthy hatchlings are born roughly 9 inches long, but could be as long as 14 inches.
- After 18-30 months on a regular feeding plan, these corn snakes will be fully grown and able to mate themselves.
- As long as their bodies are fully developed, corn snakes are of reproductive age as young as 18 months.
8. Lavender corn snake price
The price of lavender corn snakes varies depending on their coloration. Individuals with more brown pigmentation tend to be cheaper than those which exhibit a subtler, lavender coloration. As a rule, lavender corn snakes sell for somewhere between $40 and $80. The more obviously lavender the specimen, the closer it will be to the upper limit.
More complex designer morphs are rarer and therefore cost more. Some specialty lavender morphs involving four or even five separate base morphs can cost up to $500!
Lavender corn snakes can be visually quite entrancing, with their subtle pink-purple-grey coloration and ghostly patterns. On the other hand, they can appear washed out and pallid. The price a snake fetches will often depend on its coloration—which can change quite drastically over time.
While many designer morphs cannot be created without the lavender gene, a lot of them look fairly similar. If you want a snake with a vivid, vibrant pattern and stark contrast in its coloration, maybe a different corn snake morph would be more suitable for you. But hey, there’s a snake for everybody!
As always, we’d love to know your thoughts on this magnificent snake. Are you a pet owner? Amateur herpetologist? Budding breeder? Write a comment below with some of your experiences and stories!
And please feel free to share this guide with anyone who might find itu useful, or anyone that’s just plain curious!