Corn Snake vs. Ball Python: Similarities & Differences
The idea of getting a pet snake can be very thrilling, and why shouldn’t it be? They are fascinating animals who can be great pets.
However, they do have distinctive requirements, and therefore only people who are committed to understanding and fulfilling their needs should raise them.
Now, if you are one of them and you are figuring out which snake to choose, then this article is meant for you.
Here we will discuss and compare two prevalent species of pet snakes: Corn snake vs. Ball Python.
Keep reading to find out more.
Corn Snake vs. Ball Python
Both Ball Python and Corn snakes are a great choice for snake pets.
They both are easy to care for, non-venomous (critical!), and grow well under proper care.
Their food usually consists of a rodent-based diet.
These snakes have a very relaxed temperament, and therefore they hardly ever bite, especially after they have established that fundamental level of trust with their owner.
Even though Ball Pythons are more massive in weight, Corn snakes can grow longer.
And on an average, Ball Python lives longer than Corn snakes.
And although both the species have a lot of similarities, they do have several distinctive characteristics that are important for you to understand before you go ahead and make a choice.
Let’s learn about this in a little more detail.
Difference between Corn Snake and Ball Python
A typical Corn snake is orange in color.
They have orange eyes and reddish-orange patches (aka saddles) on their body.
A Corn snake’s belly has unique white and black checkerboard-type markings.
They are slim bodied animals with narrow and smooth heads.
The Ball Python, who is also nicknamed ‘Royal Python,’ are indeed very regal looking.
They have a darkish brown body with tan-golden marking along their back.
They have a big muscular built with a comparatively smaller head.
They also have an array of pits along their lips, which look like long indentations and are used to identify the body heat of their prey.
Overall, Ball pythons have a rounded snout, big eyes, and thick cheeks, and are often referred to as one of the ‘cutest snakes’ because of these features.
If taken proper care, then Corn snakes can grow more prominent in length compared to a Ball Python.
Both females and males can grow up to 6 ft. in length if they are healthy and well-fed.
And although their length might sound like a frightening, they are quite light weighted.
For example, a 6 ft long Corn snake won’t weigh more than 2lbs.
However, if you still wish to have a smaller snake, then Ball Python is preferable.
Ball pythons stay quite short in size throughout their lives, as mentioned earlier.
However, the females tend to grow more in length as compared to the male Ball Pythons.
Females can grow as long as 4 to 4.5 ft. in length whereas the males usually grow up to 3-3.5 ft.
Having said that, what they lack in height, they make up with their body-weight.
They can get quite heavy and thick and can weigh up to 5 lbs. when fully grown.
In the wild, Corn snakes feed on common rats and mice, as well as smaller amphibians and reptiles.
In captivity, Corn snake’s choice of food is frozen-thawed mice; however, some baby Corn snakes also occasionally like to eat frogs and lizards.
Adult Corn snakes may sometimes eat birds and their eggs.
Even though adult Corn snakes prefer frozen mice, you might have to offer a live baby small mice to the baby snake since they are not used to the frozen ones yet.
You need to feed baby Corn snakes every 5-6 days and adult Corn snakes every 7-10 days.
Also, make sure that you have clean and fresh water available for them in a dish.
You need to clean and replace the water dish every few days; otherwise, it will get stale.
Out in the wild and their natural habitat, Ball Pythons eat rats and mice.
Therefore Ball Python snake owners need to feed their pets regular thawed-frozen rodents.
In captivity, Ball pythons usually thrive on rats as they are bigger and appropriately suited for them.
Ball Pythons can eat all sizes of rats- from ‘crawler’s and rat pups to bigger ones as they grow.
However, do not handle the Ball Python for at least one day after feeding them as this can cause regurgitation.
Ball Pythons can sometimes be fuzzy-eaters; they are quite famous for not eating during certain times in a year, especially in the winter months.
Be ready for the chance of your pet Ball Python going off food, and during that time, you need to be observant and watch their overall condition and body weight.
Don’t be alarmed; this is very common in captivity, and after sometimes, they resume back to their standard feed.
Although, when they are in this phase, you need to offer food to them every 10-12 days until they are interested in eating again.
However, on average, you need to feed your adult Ball Python every 1 to 2 weeks and younger Ball Python every week since they require more energy to grow.
Again, as mentioned above, you need to provide them with clean and fresh water.
Corn snakes, like other pet snakes, are very forbearing and compliant.
However, they do bite, but only very rarely when they are hungry, scared, or surprised.
A bite by this snake feels like a paper cut. In case of a more aggressive bit, it might lead to a little spotting and bleeding.
But nothing to worry about, all you need to do is wash the bitten area with warm water and soap and apply some cream.
In most cases, owners sense pain from the bite mostly because it is so sudden and unexpected, not because it is lethal or causing any significant harm.
Ball Pythons are again, such a common choice for because of their non-hostile characteristics.
However, they can have temperamental issues and can sometimes get a little aggressive, especially when they are hungry or startled.
But despite this, Ball Python’s bites aren’t venomous, painful, or dangerous.
While they do have razor-sharp teeth, their jaws aren’t that strong to cause any significant damage.
Their bite feels more like a few quick pricks of needles.
In case they bite you, just wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and apply some medicinal cream.
Also, usually biting and attacking happens in the case of baby snakes since they haven’t learned to trust their caretakers yet.
Also, you need to remember that all snakes carry and bear salmonella bacteria that are present on their skin.
Therefore you always need to wash your hand thoroughly with soap and water after handling them or doing any work-related.
Handling and Temperament
Corn snakes are one type of snakes that are naturally jumpy and get startled very easily.
This is usually the case with baby Corn snakes since they are in a new environment and haven’t developed a trustable relationship with their owners.
It is always better to give them a few weeks to settle down in their new base before you start handling them.
After feeding them 4-5 successful meals, you can start handling them for a short time.
However, do not handle a snake for 1-2 days after feeding them; this can cause regurgitation.
After they are sure that they are safe with you, they calm down quickly and regain security in their enclosure.
Once comfortable, they are very swift to tame and quite used to handling.
Also, always handle a Corn snake with confidence; they can sense hesitation, which makes them retreat or bite.
Ball Python snakes tend to be shyer and choose to spend more time hiding in their enclosure.
A Ball Python might see you as a threat initially; therefore, you need to give them time to settle and recognize who you are.
Some Ball Pythons even try to hide or bite due to fear when being handled.
They might need more time to develop trust with you.
However, just like Corn snakes, once Ball Pythons get comfortable and realize you won’t hurt them, they start to enjoy being held.
Also, the Ball Python is more likely to sit in your hand without moving too much.
Sometimes, after being handled, the snakes do not eat for many hours or more because it might be uncomfortable for them.
So make sure you don’t handle them before feeding or handle them for at least a day or two after feeding.
Ease of Care
Irrespective of the type, there are certain things you need to make sure while you take care of these pet snakes:
- Maintaining the correct temperature
- Maintaining the required level of humidity
- Cleaning the snake’s enclosure regularly, getting rid of any fecal matter, etc.
- Refilling and cleaning their water dish daily and regularly.
Besides these standard requirements, there is one significant but essential distinction in their needs, i.e., their temperature and humidity requirements.
You need to be conscious of the temperature under which you are keeping your snakes.
You can always use a digital thermometer with a probe to keep a check.
In the case of Corn snakes, they need a humidity level of around 50%.
And for meeting their temperature needs, you need to provide them with an under tank cable or a heating pad.
You can place a long narrow hide, like a hollow pipe, in the tank with one end of the hide warm and another end cool.
The warm end of their hide should reach around 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and the cool end should be about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
They don’t need any special lighting, but natural daylight can be beneficial since it can help them to adjust to their cycles.
However, make sure you don’t put them under direct sunlight as the temperature in the enclosure could rise very suddenly proving to be lethal.
In the case of a Ball Python, you need to maintain a humidity level of 50-60%.
You have to provide your pet Ball Python with a proper thermal radiant or a heat lamp in his/her enclosure.
Just like Corn snakes, you can place a hide in their box as well with the warm end reaching between 88-96 degrees Fahrenheit and the cool end between 78-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
You don’t need any additional lighting when it comes to them.
However, if you still choose to use it, then make sure that you do not expose them to continuous overhead bright lighting.
Since they are nocturnal reptiles, the constant light could stress them out.
Maintaining proper humidity and temperature in their enclosure will help them to shed better.
Also, both snakes require additional humidity as they shed.
Both Ball Pythons and Corn snakes breed well in captivity.
They both come in many different ‘morphs.’
Before moving ahead, let me explain what a morph is- It is when the same species of snake can be bred into different colors and patterns, etc.
These varieties in ‘looks’ is called ‘morphs’ and both snakes have several morphs.
Corn snakes can be bred in captivity in large numbers and have many genetic traits.
If they are healthy enough, they usually breed between the ages of 18-24 months.
Female snakes give birth to a cluster of around 7-26 eggs, sometimes twice a year.
The females generally lay their eggs a month to 45 days after mating.
The babies after hatching are approx. 8 to 12 inches in length and can take up to 2 years to achieve their full size.
Some of the most well-known Corn snake morphs are Caramel, Lavender, Sunglow, Black, Albino, Okeetee, etc.
Ball Pythons are another reptile that breeds exceptionally well in captivity.
In fact, in captivity, many Ball Pythons are bred for particular morphs or patterns.
They have a long reproductive life where the female Ball Pythons reach their sexual maturity at the age of 27-30 months.
Female Ball Python usually produces an average cluster of six eggs, and they often lay one bunch per year.
Also, captive Ball Python snakes are available in hundreds of morphs.
Some of the most common morphs are Albino, Banana, Bumblebee, Asphalt Specter, etc.
In captivity, Corn snakes tend to live longer as they are not exposed to any predators or danger.
In the wild, a Corn snake can survive up to 6 to 8 years.
However, in captivity, the lifespan of a Corn snake can be as long as 15 to 20 years.
Compared to Corn snakes, Ball Pythons have a longer life span.
Under proper care, a Ball Python can live on an average of 30 years or even more.
The record age of this particular specie is more than 40 years.
Despite taking all the right measures and care of your pet snakes, they can still catch diseases.
Snakes do get sick occasionally, and some of the common health issues in Corn snakes and Ball Python include:
Dermatitis (aka skin infections) is quite common in pet snakes if they are kept in an environment that doesn’t meet their needs, for example, if their enclosure is too misty or dirty, etc.
When suffering from dermatitis, their skin gets inflamed and red with numerable blister-like small lesions.
These blisters, if not treated immediately, can become more infected and result in severe skin damage.
Also, snakes kept in conditions that are too dry, i.e., without adequate humidity, might again develop bacterial skin infections.
This can be caused due to accumulation of the debris under the retained skin while shedding.
Mouth Rot, aka Infectious Stomatitis, is an infection that happens in the mouth of these snakes, especially around their teeth and jaw.
In this infection, the snakes get pus or mucus (sometimes containing blood) around their mouth or on their gums.
The pus/mucus looks like small pieces of cottage cheese, which can be yellow or gray.
Sometimes you might also notice that the line along the mouth of the snake is damaged, inflamed, or eroded.
This disease, in common among snakes held in captivity but if not treated immediately, can cause significant harm.
Early detection is essential for your snake’s health and well-being.
Retained Eye Caps and Dysecdysis (Shedding Problems)
Skin shedding (aka ecdysis) in snakes is a very active cycle that occurs throughout their lifetime.
As soon as one cycle of shedding ends, another cycle begins.
This process usually keeps happening until the snake dies.
Now a healthy snake sheds his/her skin in a single piece.
However, whenever a snake sheds, you should always check that the eye caps come off too with the shed.
The eye caps (aka spectacles) act as a transparent eyelid for the snakes, which protects their corneas from being damaged.
If an eye cap is stuck or retained, it can cause an eye infection.
Another thing to remember is that the underlying skin, during shedding, is not entirely developed, and handling the animal during that time can cause severe damage to the new skin.
Most of the shedding problems are caused due to mishandling or management.
Damage caused to the newly developing skin is an example of a situation that results in ‘Dysecdysis’ (abnormal shedding of the outer skin)
It is imperative to visit your veterinarian if any changes in husbandry or management caused any discomfort or abnormalities to your pet snake.
Respiratory illnesses and infections are quite common among snakes held in captivity.
They usually happen due to poor management or stressful environment, lack of clean water, etc.
They can be managed very easily if caught immediately.
Some of the most common signs are wheezing, open-mouth breathing, coughing, clicking noise while breathing, running nose, etc.
In these cases, it is essential to move your pet snake to a quieter place and clean its box and check that you are fulfilling all its basic requirements.
However, in case of severe symptoms, it is always advisable to immediately show them to a vet before the situation worsens.
Vomiting or Regurgitation
Vomiting/Regurgitation is a pervasive health issue among the snakes.
They are mainly caused by handling them too soon after feeding or due to stress or poor husbandry management.
90% of the time, these are the reasons which cause regurgitation, and through careful inspection and changes in your techniques, you can easily manage the problem.
For example, do not handle the snake for at least a day or two after feeding them and regularly clean their containers.
However, regurgitation can happen due to other causes as well, for example, an undiagnosed disease, etc.
In this case, it is always more helpful to show it to a vet and get them checked.
Acariasis (Mites and Ticks)
An infestation of ticks and mites (aka Acariasis) can be a significant nuisance for your pet snake and can be a costly one too.
The most common among these parasites are ‘snake mites’ who stick to the skin and even suck their blood.
If present in large numbers, they can even be life-threatening by causing anemia.
These parasites, if diagnosed early and treated immediately, can be eradicated without any hassle.
They are mostly caused due to unhygienic conditions or due to recent acquisitions or imports.
These blood-suckers are incredibly minute and tough to see between the colorful folds of the snake; hence you need to be vigilant and immediately check in case of an oddity.
Inclusion Body Disease (IBD)
IBD is a severe and ultimately fatal disease.
However, it is only seen in boas and pythons (in this case, Ball Pythons).
It is a viral disease that usually affects the snake’s system, like the respiratory system, nervous system, or even digestive tracts.
There are no fixed signs, and the symptoms may only start to show sometimes after the initial stage of the disease.
Some of the symptoms involve loss of appetite, star gazing, lethargy, tail twisting, etc.
However, in case of any abnormal activity, especially in boas and pythons, it is always best to consult a vet.
The diseases that I have covered are just the tip of an iceberg. There are many more snake diseases that can be caused by many other reasons.
Usually, the reason for these diseases is unsanitary living conditions or lack of essential management.
And although this may sound overwhelming, their health problems usually have similar symptoms.
So in case if you are unable to identify what is wrong with your pet snake, it is vital that you immediately take him/her to a vet.
Once you understand their body well, you will be able to take much better care of them.
Also, it is always better to prevent the disease altogether rather than curing it.
Therefore you should get your snake timely and regularly examined by a vet even when they are healthy.
Corn Snakes are comparatively less expensive than Ball Pythons.
A standard Corn snake will cost around 20-40 dollars.
However, a morph can cost anywhere between a couple of hundreds to a thousand dollars.
It depends on the type of morph and the availability of it.
Ball Python snakes are just a little expensive than Corn snakes.
A standard Ball Python snake costs 30-60 dollars.
However, just like morph Corn snakes, a morph Ball Python is equally expensive, and sometimes a rarer Ball Python morph can cost as much as 15,000 dollars.
Pros and Cons of Owning a Snake
Now to sum it all up for you, let me list down the major pros and cons of owning each of the pet snakes (Corn snake and Ball Python).
After this, I assure you, you will know which one you finally want.
- Corn Snakes are easier to feed as compared to Ball Pythons.
- Corn Snakes like to be held often and for more extended periods.
- They are available in many attractive morphs.
- They live up to 15-20 years in captivity.
- Corn Snakes are incredibly light in body weight as compared to Ball Pythons.
- Corn snakes can grow quite big in length and size, which can sometimes be frightening.
- They are susceptible to respiratory, fungal, and other infections.
- Corn snakes also move faster in your hand when being handled.
- They are excellent escape artists if not overseen.
- Corn snakes can sometimes be very enthusiastic and difficult to handle.
Ball Python Snakes
- They are smaller in size compared to a Corn snake.
- They are available in a variety of morphs for your choice.
- They are incredibly docile and can be easily tamed.
- Ball Pythons are more likely to sit in your hand without moving much when being handled.
- They live longer than Corn snakes, sometimes as long as 40 years.
- Ball Python snakes are fussy eaters.
- They tend to be shyer and prefer to hide in their enclosure.
- Since they are nocturnal animals, they tend to be a little sluggish during the day.
- Ball Pythons are comparatively more substantial in size.
- They get easily stressed as compared to Corn snakes.
No matter which snake you choose, both Ball Pythons and Corn snakes are magnificent and exotic.
They are not only docile but also don’t need the kind of attention you usually have to give to other pets.
They like to be held and are available in such attractive colors and patterns. What else can you ask for?
Also, many pet snake owners say that they are quite addictive, so chances are you might get yourself a couple more after the first one.