Corn Snake Vs Ball Python: Travel Across The World To Meet These Wriggling Critt

Ever saw a snake with golden patches that sparkle in the sun? Ever caught the glimpse of a flaming orange serpent evaporating in its own warm hues? Well, if you have not, set your eyes upon corn snakes and ball pythons! They are a gift of nature harboring in the global wilderness.

However, one dilemma that snake lovers often face is trying to tell the two apart. However, when comparing corn snake vs ball python, upon close observation, nuances emerge to the surface. In this article, we will explore the physical and behavioral differences between the two.

Ball Python Vs Corn Snake: A One-Look Difference Chart

Below is an at-a-glance table for you to take a look before you explore the details.

Characteristics Corn Snake Ball Python
Family Colubridae Pythonidae
Color Brown With Orange Saddles Chocolate Brown With Golden Blotches
Head Orange Heads, V-Shaped Orange Lines Above The Eyes Chocolate Brown Head, Golden Bars Across The Eyes
Eyes Black Pupils, Orange Eye-Rings Black Pupils, Deep-Brown Eye-Rings
Spur No Spur Spurs Near Their Cloaca
Size 2 To 6 Feet, Lighter 2 To 5 Feet, Heavier
Habitat United States Of America Africa
Reproduction March To May September To November

Similarities Between Ball Python And Corn Snake

Ball pythons and the common corn snakes share similar shades of colors, like browns and goldens. However, Slowinski’s corn snakes and the Great Plains rat snakes look even more similar to ball pythons. Both the snakes generally have black eyes too.

The biggest similarity between them is that both the snakes are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs. Not only that, both ball pythons and corn snakes are non-venomous and subdue their prey by constricting them. Amidst so many similarities, it gets tough to tell them apart.

Corn Snake Vs Ball Python: Physical Differences

Since the two snakes look and behave so similarly, nuances must be explored. The upcoming segments are going to refine the details so as to make the differences more pronounced.

Family Of Snakes

Ball pythons are one of the species of the family Pythonidae. Their scientific name is Python regius and are alternatively known as Royal Python. They are royal alright when you take a glimpse at how they look a bit later. Why are they called ball pythons? When they get scared or stressed, they curl themselves up into a ball and maintain a low profile. So there you go!

Corn snakes belong to a completely different family of snakes. Their family is called Colubridae and genus Pantherophis, the latter literally meaning “panther-like snakes”. They are named “corn” snakes because they have kernel-like squares on their belly. There are three species in this genus– common corn snake, Slowinski’s corn snake, and the Great Plains rat snake.


Colors of ball pythons and corn snakes are similar but different. A closer observation will help bring out the subtle variations.

Ball Python

The common ball pythons are a deep chocolate brown with heart-shaped and circular blotches all over the body in the color golden, as if painted with the molten form of the actual gold metal! Their regal appearance has won them the name of Royal Python. Their scales are quite smooth and soft to touch. They also have spurs or “vestigial legs” that remind us of their ancestors.

Ball Python

Ball pythons do not have any subspecies but they have over 7000 morphs, each prettier than the other. These morphs have been produced in controlled environments by gene mutation and selective breeding, among other methods. All the colors of the rainbow can be manifested by these morph ball pythons.There are albino, leucistic and amelanistic morphs of ball pythons that look a lot like corn snake albino morphs, lavender corn snakes and palmetto corn snakes!

Corn Snake

So, how are the colors of ball pythons similar to that of corn snakes? The common corn snakes may not look a lot like the ball pythons as they have a bright orange appearance on a dull grayish-brown background. However, the other two species of corn snakes– Slowinski’s and the Great Plains rat snake, resemble the ball pythons to a large extent.

Corn Snake

Slowinski’s corn snakes have a tan background with maroon-colored saddles all over their body. The maroon colored saddles resemble the chocolaty look of the common ball pythons. The Great Plains rat snakes have a whitish background with light-purple saddles all over their body which look a little brownish from certain light angles, slightly similar to how ball pythons look like.

And let’s not forget the 800 something morphs that corn snakes have in their family! They are a result of hybridization and gene mutation too, and exist in a wide range of colors and patterns. For instance, the blue-eyed leucistic ball pythons look exactly like the blizzard corn snakes. Also, the axanthic ball pythons that cannot produce yellow pigments, look just like the black and white (and needless to say gorgeous) tessera corn snake morphs that are anerythristic.


The common corn snakes have reddish-orange heads with white snouts and chins. Slowinski’s corn snakes and the Great Plains rat snakes have maroonish and white spearhead markings on their foreheads, respectively. Corn snake morphs may have varieties of head colors.

Ball pythons have mostly chocolate-brown heads. One of their distinctive features are the golden highlights that run across their eyes and end close to their necks. On the contrary, corn snakes have V-shaped orange colored bars that pass above their eyes, not across the eyes.

Eyes Of Corn Snakes


Corn snakes have round black pupils with orange eye-rings. On the other hand, ball pythons have black pupils with deep brown eye-rings that are almost indistinguishable from the pupils.

However, the morphs may have different eye-colors depending on gene mutation. Usually albino or amelanistic morphs will have red or pink eyes due to lack or total absence of melanin.


Ball python belly is a creamy beige with thin, almost invisible, horizontal markings. There may be faint yellow stripes running all the way from the neck to the tail-tip. The black and white axanthic morphs may have white bellies with small black dots or splotches.

Ball Python Belly

On the other hand, corn snakes have the famous checkerboard pattern of black and white criss-crosses. The checkerboard pattern gives rise to the formation of squares that have yellow and white colors resembling corn kernels. The belly color may vary with different morphs.


Ball pythons are one of those reptiles that possess the vestigial remains of their ancestors They have small triangular protrusions near their cloacal opening that are called spurs. Spurs are the remains of the limbs that were used by the ancient lizards, that snakes evolved from, to locomote and climb trees. However, evolution has resulted in the omission of those limbs.

Corn snakes, on the contrary, do not have any such protrusions near their vent. Corn snakes are not as primitive as boa constrictors or pythons and have never grown or have completely lost the vestigial remains through the process of evolution. They may grow lumps near their cloaca but they are mostly due to some illness and must be checked by an experienced vet.


Corn snakes can grow anywhere between 2 and 6 feet and are quite slender in appearance. They can weigh around 900 grams or almost 2 lbs.

On the contrary, ball python females are longer than the males. Females can grow between 3 and 5 feet, while males are usually within the range of 2 to 3 feet. Females also weigh a little more than the males standing at 3 lbs 9.7 ounces, while males could weigh a few ounces lesser.

Habitat And Behavioral Differences

Now that we have seen the physical differences between the two snakes, let’s explore a bit deeper. Let’s see how they produce babies, hunt for food and thrive for survival.

Ball Python Hunting Tactics

Hunting Tactics

Ball pythons are nocturnal or crepuscular, meaning that they like to remain busy foraging and exploring during the dark hours, instead of the sun-lit hours. They are quite shy in general and do not bite unless they have been disturbed a lot. When threatened, instead of biting, they coil into a ball and tuck their head into the coils, as if asking the intruder to leave it alone.

They love to burrow and do something called “aestivation”. It is just like hibernation where they remain dormant and save energy, but it happens in the summer and not winter. Ball pythons are not venomous, and subdue their prey by constriction. At first, they grasp the prey by using their small but sharp teeth, all the while coiling around the prey tight enough to suffocate the victim.

Corn snakes, like the ball pythons, demonstrate nocturnal tendencies. Thermoregulation plays a crucial role for corn snakes while digesting food. During the autumn season, they maintain a body temperature of at least 3°C higher than the surrounding temperature by absorbing the head radiating out from the ground at night-time.

They do brumation in winter where they molt for copulation in the spring season. In cold weather conditions, they like to burrow within rock crevices or thick vegetation. They do not bite either unless they are disturbed or threatened beyond limit. Corn snakes are constrictors too where they get hold of their prey using their small, pointed aglyphous teeth.

Corn Snakes Habitat


Ball pythons are mostly found in the grasslands and savannas of Sub-Saharan Africa. Places like Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan and Uganda enjoy the beauty of these beautiful wrigglings critters. On the other hand, corn snakes are mostly found in the southeastern parts of the United States of America. Corn snakes prefer open areas like fields and forest clearings.


The time between September and November witnesses the love-making scenes of ball pythons. They have spurs with the help of which they caress each other which is a very adorable sight. Males reach reproductive age much sooner than females at the age of 11-18 months, while females take 20-36 months to reach sexual maturity. Around 3 to 11 eggs are laid. Hatchlings of ball pythons each measure around 10 inches in body length.

Breeding season of corn snakes is between March and May. They undergo winter brumation to get ready to mate in the spring season. Chemical cues are left by the females which are picked up by the males before copulation can commence. 12 to 24 eggs are laid by mother corn snakes. The hatchlings are about 5 inches long and are fiercely independent.

Care Guide For Corn Snakes

Care Guide For Corn Snakes

Corn snakes are such darlings when it comes to taking care of them at home or in an animal shelter. They are gentle and manageable, and very easy to feed right when they hatch. If you have adopted a baby corn snake, then getting a 10-gallon tank would make a great enclosure. For larger corn snakes, a 20-30 gallon tank, or larger, would be suitable. A plastic enclosure with a screen on top and a hinged door at the front makes an excellent choice.

A warm spot of 90°F and a cool spot of 70°F would be great. At night, all lights should go off so that they can either rest or explore. A clear day-night cycle must be established. Beech wood chips would be a great choice for the substrate since it retains moisture. Also, corn snakes like to explore so you can install ornaments like caves, plants, and rocks at different places.

Care Guide For Ball Pythons

Care Guide For Ball Pythons

Ball pythons are large and heavy snakes. They are docile and bite only at rare occasions, the reason why they are such popular pets despite being intimidating in appearance. For baby ball pythons, a 10-20 gallon enclosure is just fine. For adults, a 40-gallon tank would be better.

At the warm area of the enclosure, a 95°F temperature must be maintained. For the cooler part, temperature should be kept around 78°F. Basking lamps and under-tank heating mats do a great job at maintaining the correct temperature. Humidity can be kept between 40 and 60%.


Corn snake vs ball pythons comparison article is highly needed since they share common color hues of brown, chocolate and golden, and look quite similar. The common orange corn snakes may not look very similar, but their cousins–Slowinski’s corn snakes and the rat snake do.

Ball pythons are considered symbolic of the earth in Nigeria because the snakes spend a lot of time on and inside the ground. In Ghana, the locals treat ball pythons as sacred and refrain from hunting them. Both corn snakes and ball pythons are beautiful creatures and must be cherished.

Hello snake lovers! I’m David Mifsud and Snake Insider is my latest project with a vision of spreading reptile awareness to every single netizen. I’ll be introducing some of the most unexplored territories in the world of snakes to broaden the horizon of knowledge for the readers. My personal motto is to get as close to the snakes in nature without disrupting the balance and gather information as well as habitation patterns. It can be later on utilized in order to build a safe and healthy environment for every species of snakes. So stick around with us and I’m sure we won’t disappoint you!

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