Corn Snake Bite – Do They Hurt & What to Do if Bitten

First, get ready to breathe a sigh of relief! If you’re a proud corn snake owner or a curious enthusiast, there’s no need to fret about the occasional nibble. But before you start slithering around your corn snake’s enclosure with reckless abandon, it’s essential to understand why they might bite and how to handle them safely.

Corn snakes are generally not aggressive, but may bite if they feel threatened, hungry, or stressed. Baby corn snakes tend to be more aggressive than mature ones. Corn snake bites are generally not serious, and are not overly painful as they are non-venomous. However, understanding why they might bite is essential. 

Corn snakes may bite due to a variety of reasons, such as feeling threatened, mistaking a hand for prey, stress from shedding, stress from other sources, overhandling, genetic disposition, health issues, environmental changes, or handling food. 

If your corn snake bites you, it’s important to remain calm, gently lift the snake’s head, rinse the affected area with warm water and soap, apply an antiseptic ointment, watch for signs of infection, avoid handling your snake for a while, and consider seeking professional advice.

Do Corn Snakes Bite?

Corn Snake wrapped around woman's hand

Corn snakes are generally non-aggressive just like milk snakes. They do bite, but they usually don’t unless they feel threatened or stressed. They may bite their owners accidentally, mistaking their hands for prey or as a form of defense. It’s important to handle them with care, especially during feeding or shedding periods, as these situations can cause stress and agitation. Here’s a helpful video with tips & guidelines to handle corn snakes the right way!

Remember that each snake has a unique personality and genetic makeup, which can affect its behavior toward humans.

Editor’s Note
It’s common for baby corn snakes to bite, especially since they are still learning and exploring their surroundings. Compared to their mature counterparts, hatchlings and juveniles tend to be more aggressive. However, as they grow older and become accustomed to human interaction, they tend to become more docile and less likely to bite.

Does Corn Snake Bites Hurt?

Corn Snake bite

Corn snake bites are not serious and are not overly painful either. They are non-venomous, meaning they have no fangs to inject venom. Corn snakes have small mouths and teeth that work like little grips to hold onto their prey, making their bites less harmful. 

Although the bite may cause some discomfort, it’s typically not a cause for concern. n fact, some people don’t even realize that they have been bitten until they see the bite mark. The bite may leave a small red mark on the skin, which can be tender to the touch. If bitten, clean the area with soap and water, and keep an eye out for any signs of infection.

Reasons Why Corn Snakes Bite

Corn Snake

Understanding the reasons why they might bite is essential. So, get ready to unravel the secrets of the corn snake bite! Here are 10 reasons why a corn snake may bite a human:

  • Feeling threatened: Corn snakes may bite if they feel scared, startled, or cornered.
  • Mistaking a hand for prey: If the owner’s hands smell like prey, the corn snake may accidentally bite while trying to grab its meal.
  • Hunger: Hungry snakes may mistake a hand for food or bite if they feel they are not being fed enough. Though they can live up to 2 months without food, but they might get a bit tempted as time passes.
  • Stress from shedding: Corn snakes get stressed during shedding, which can make them more irritable and prone to biting.
  • Stress from other sources: If the snake’s living conditions are not optimal, or if it is sharing an enclosure with another corn snake, it may become stressed and aggressive.
  • Overhandling: Corn snakes may bite if they feel overhandled or overwhelmed.
  • Genetic disposition: Some corn snakes may have a more aggressive personality due to their genetic makeup.
  • Health issues: Sick or injured snakes may become more defensive.
  • Environmental changes: Sudden changes in the snake’s environment, such as a move to a new enclosure, may cause stress and lead to biting.
  • Handling food: Snakes can mistake their owner’s hand for prey when they are being fed, so it’s essential to use tongs and wash your hands before handling.

The corn snake bit me, now what? 

Imagine you’re holding your beloved corn snake when all of a sudden, it bites you! Don’t panic – it’s a harmless bite, but you do need to know what to do. Here are the steps you should take if your corn snake bites you:

#1 – Remain calm 

The shock of being bitten can be scary, but remember that corn snakes are non-venomous. So stay calm and avoid any sudden movements that could startle the snake further.

#2 – Gently lift the snake’s head

Instead of pulling the snake away, which can cause the puncture wounds to become bigger, try to lift its head upwards to loosen its grip on your skin.

#3 – Rinse the affected area with warm water and soap 

Washing hands with soap and water

Most corn snake bites don’t require any special treatment beyond cleaning the wound with soap and water. This will help prevent infection and promote healing.

#4 – Apply an antiseptic ointment

Antiseptic Ointment

After cleaning the wound, apply a thin layer of antiseptic ointment to the affected area to help prevent infection and promote healing.

#5 – Watch for signs of infection

Finger with Snake Corn bite

While most corn snake bites are harmless, there is still a risk of infection. Keep an eye on the wound for any signs of redness, swelling, or discharge. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention.

#6 – Avoid handling your snake for a while

If your corn snake bit you because it was scared or stressed, it’s a good idea to avoid handling it for a while. This will give the snake time to calm down and reduce the risk of another bite.

Coping with a Corn Snake That Won’t Let Go

Sometimes, corn snakes may latch onto your skin and refuse to let go. This is more painful and scary than the actual bit. Here are some things to keep in mind if your corn snake latches onto you:

#1 – Don’t try to force your corn snake away

As mentioned earlier, pulling your snake away from your skin is a big no-no! Their teeth point backward, and pulling the snake will cause them to dig deeper into your skin, causing more pain and injury. Additionally, any pressure you apply when pulling can cause your corn snake to latch harder.

#2 – Use water or alcohol

Instead of pulling your snake away, try to encourage it to release itself. You can do this by dripping freezing water or alcohol onto the latched area. The sudden change in temperature or taste usually distracts the snake, and it will release its grip.

#3 – Treat it as a bite

Once the snake has released its hold, clean the bite wound with soap and water and follow the same steps as if you were bitten.

Editor’s Note
Do not use a credit card or other thin object to pry the snake’s mouth open. Trying to force the snake off may cause it to bite down harder, causing more pain and injury. 

Preventing Corn Snake Bites in the Future

While corn snake bites are generally harmless, it’s still best to avoid them altogether. After all, your pet’s trust is crucial, and stressful experiences can harm your pet’s well-being. Here are some tips on how to prevent bites in the future:

#1 – Be mindful of why bites occur

Many corn snake bites happen because the animal is hungry. Ensure that you feed your snake small mice every seven to 10 days based on age. 

Avoid stretching the timeline as this can make corn snakes antsy and more likely to bite.

Refrain from handling the snake just before a feeding session. This is because the snake may become hungry and confuse your hand for its prey. Be aware of your corn snake’s hunger level before placing your hand into its tank, and always check on your hand’s odor.

Shedding is a stressful situation for corn snakes, so avoid handling your snake as it sheds.

#2 – Create a comfortable environment

Make the enclosure as comfortable as possible for your corn snake. Provide hiding spots, maintain stable environmental conditions, and clean the tank regularly. A lackluster environment can cause corn snakes to feel stressed, resulting in more aggressive behaviors than usual.

#3 – Avoid overhandling

While corn snakes usually don’t mind handling once they establish trust, excessive handling can lead to the snake lashing out. Corn snakes are private creatures and prefer to have their own space.

#4 – Approach with care

Approach your corn snake from its line of sight, not from above. Avoid sudden movements and loud noises. Corn snakes have the instinct to startle when they feel threatened, and sudden movements or loud noises can cause them to bite in self-defense.

Don’t attempt to pick up your new corn snake before it feels comfortable in your presence. It may be scared of you due to your size and unfamiliarity and may see you as a predator. You can also invest in this bite-proof animal handling glove for safety.

Corn Snake Teeth: More Than Just a Bite

Corn Snake teeth

Corn snakes are non-venomous reptiles and have teeth rather than fangs. Their teeth are tiny, sharp, and backward facing, which allows them to grasp and hold onto prey while constricting. The teeth are not designed to tear flesh, but rather to secure their meal. Corn snake teeth resemble tiny fish bones.

Corn snakes have a row of teeth on both the upper and lower jaw, and they can have up to 20-30 teeth in each row. The upper teeth group together to create four rows, while the bottom only has two rows of teeth. 

These teeth are continually replaced throughout their lives, which helps them maintain their sharpness. As a result, corn snakes have a virtually endless supply of teeth.

Corn snakes also have a unique feature called the Jacobson’s organ, which is a sensory organ located on the roof of their mouth. This organ allows them to detect and analyze scents, which is useful in finding prey and avoiding predators. When a corn snake flicks its tongue, it collects scent particles and brings them back to Jacobson’s organ for analysis.

Fangs or No Fangs?

Snake fangs are specialized teeth that are long and hollow, designed to deliver venom to their prey. These sharp, pointed teeth are located towards the back of the mouth and can be rotated into position when needed to deliver venom.

Thankfully, corn snakes do not have fangs. Instead, they have small, sharp teeth that are angled backward. These teeth are used for grasping prey and pulling it back into the snake’s mouth. So venomous snakes, corn snakes do not use their teeth to inject venom into their prey or predators, making them safe first-time pets.

Mythbusting: Are Corn Snakes Venomous?

When it comes to snakes, some species have a reputation for being the stuff of nightmares. With their venomous bites capable of taking down humans and large animals, these slithery creatures send shivers down our spines. 

But don’t worry, unlike their venomous counterparts, corn snakes are completely harmless. They don’t have venom-producing glands or the biological features to deliver toxins to their prey, let alone humans. 

Instead, these constrictors rely on their bodies to squeeze the life out of their prey, making venom completely unnecessary for their survival. So if you’re looking for a pet snake that won’t have you running for the hills, look no further than the corn snake. With their brightly colored scales and docile nature, these non-venomous serpents make great pets for anyone interested in the world of reptiles.

Are Corn Snake Bites Deadly?

No, a corn snake cannot kill a human. Corn snakes are small and not venomous, so even if they were to bite a person, they would not be able to deliver a lethal dose of venom. While a corn snake bite can be painful and may cause some discomfort, it is not a serious medical emergency. 

The only real is risk if you are allergic to snake saliva or the wound gets infected due to improper care.


Can a corn snake bite cause an infection?

Yes, a corn snake bite can cause an infection if the wound is not cleaned properly. It’s important to clean the bite with soap and water and monitor it for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or pus.

Can I still handle my corn snake after it bites me?

It’s generally not recommended to handle your corn snake immediately after it bites you, as this can be stressful for both you and your snake. Give your snake some time to calm down and assess the wound before deciding if it’s safe to handle.

In conclusion, while corn snake bites may occur, they are rare and can often be prevented through proper handling and care. If you do get bitten, it’s important to stay calm and follow proper protocols for treatment to ensure a quick recovery. Remember to always handle your corn snake with care. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience with your pet corn snake.

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