Global invasive species database

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Common name
North American corn snake (English), American corn snake (English, Australia), red corn snake (English), culebra-ratonera de maiz (Spanish), red rat snake (English), Emory's rat snake (English), corn snake (English)
Synonym
Coluber guttatus , (Linnaeus, 1766)
Pantherophis guttatus , (Linnaeus, 1766)
Similar species
Summary
The corn snake, Elaphe guttata native to the southern United States and Mexico is a popular pet snake species. E. guttata has been reported frequently particularly on islands in the Atlantic Ocean / Carribean area. Introductions have been largely as a result of the pet trade or as a stowaway in shipments of plants. Reports suggest that while E. guttata is still in the early stages of invasion in its introduced range, native snake and prey populations could be put at risk should E. guttata become established due to competition and predation.
Species Description
Elaphe guttata is a small to medium-sized slender snake up to 180 cm long. It is the most popular pet snake in the world, as it is easy to keep, comes in vivid colours and is easy to breed. Various colour morphs have been created through breeding, leading to a wide range of colour variations; please follow this link Cornsnake Morph Gallery to view some of them. Perhaps the most common form is orange or brownish-yellow, with large black-edged red blotches down the middle of its back. It typically has alternate black marks on its underside, giving a checker-board appearance (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009). The subspecies E. guttata emoryi generally has similar coloration being grey or tan with dark-grey, brown or green-grey blotching down its back (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009).
E. guttata is non-venomous, killing its prey via constriction.
Notes
Elaphe guttata includes two subspecies: Elaphe guttata guttata and Elaphe guttata emoryi (ITIS, 2010).
Uses
Elaphe guttata is a popular pet species, described as the most popular pet snake in the world (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009). Large numbers are kept both legally and illegally around the world (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009).
Habitat Description
Elaphe guttata can occupy a diverse range of habitats including open grassland, forest, agricultural land and semi-urban areas (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009). Closely related species have home ranges of 18–93 ha and can travel 8 km in search of a mate, this and the ability of E. guttata to hide under any object and to climb trees making detection if established difficult (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009). In colder parts of its native range, E. guttata hibernates during winter. However, in the warmer climates along the south-eastern coast of the United States they shelter in rock crevices and logs during cold weather and come out on warm days to soak up the heat of the sun—a process known as brumation (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009).
Reproduction
Mating occurs shortly after winter with eggs laid about one month after mating. Clutch size varies from 10–12 eggs, but can be up to 24. The eggs are usually laid in warm areas with high humidity (e.g. near rotting logs, decaying vegetation). Once laid, the adult snake abandons the eggs and does not return to them. The eggs hatch in approximately 65 days. Newly hatched snakes are about 25 cm long. Sexual maturity occurs after 600 days. Longevity can exceed 20 years in the wild (de Magalhaes & Costa 2009; in Fisher & Csurhes, 2009). E. guttata can hybridise with related species, including the Californian king snake (Lampropeltis getula californiae). Despite belonging to different genera, offspring are sexually viable (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009).
Nutrition
Elaphe guttata is a generalist predator of a wide range of insects, amphibians, lizards, small mammals and birds (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009). Adults typically feed on rodents and other small animals including bats and birds, hunting on the ground and in trees (arboreal). Juveniles feed on smaller prey such as insects, frogs and lizards. Prey is killed by constriction since the species is not venomous (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009).
Pathway
A young individual Elaphe guttata was intercepted on Little St. James, US Virgin Islands in a shipment of spindle palms (Hyophorbe verschaffeltii) from Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Perry & Platenberg, 2007). E. guttata has the tendency and ability to hide underneath most objects allowing it to remain undetected (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009).Elaphe guttata is a common species in the pet trade (Perry & Platenberg, 2007). Large numbers are kept both legally and ilegally around the world (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009).A young individual Elaphe guttata was intercepted on Little St. James, US Virgin Islands in a shipment of spindle palms (Hyophorbe verschaffeltii) from Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Perry & Platenberg, 2007). E. guttata has the tendency and ability to hide underneath most objects allowing it to remain undetected (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009).

Principal source:

Compiler: IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) with support from the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme (OTEP) project XOT603, a joint project with the Cayman Islands Government - Department of Environment

Review: Under expert review

Publication date: 2010-05-25

Recommended citation: Global Invasive Species Database (2019) Species profile: Elaphe guttata. Downloaded from http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=1572 on 18-09-2019.

General Impacts
Elaphe guttata is a generalist predator similar to the invasive brown treesnake (Boiga irregularis); it feeds on a wide variety of prey such as rodents, ground nesting birds, and occasionally lizards (Perry et al., 2003; Ferguson & Dixon, 2007). It has the potential to cause significant decline in a variety of native species. In its introduced range on Lesser Antillean Islands, it has the potential to be a serious competitor with existing native snake species such as the 'Critically Endangered (CR)' Antiguan racer (Alsophis antiguae) and the 'Endangered (EN)' leeward island racer (Alsophis rijersmai) (Henderson, 2004).

E. guttata is a potential host for alien pests and diseases, that could threaten native and domestic animals, an example given by Fisher & Csurhes (2009) is the reptile tick spread bacterium, Cowdria ruminantium which can result in the death of grazing animals. E. guttata is also known as a vector of cryptosporosis (Xioa et al. 2004; in Fisher & Csurhes, 2009).

Management Info
Preventative measures: A risk assessment for Australia modelled on reptiles and amphibians introduced to Britain and the USA based on taxonomy, climate matching, geographic range, and success of establishment elsewhere has classed Elaphe guttata as a \"Serious\" establishment risk in Australia with a 0.80 establishment risk score (Bomford, 2008).

Fisher & Csurhes (2009), observe that as E. guttata is very hard to detect, eradication once established is highly unlikely. They suggest that the only defence is preventative legislation that avoids introduction, possession and sale.

Other: As E. guttata has yet to be established or recognised as a major pest in most of the areas it has been introduced to (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009), information regarding management is lacking, Furthermore, there is little information on the eradication or control of invasive snakes in the literature, other than via manual capture and destruction (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009).

Countries (or multi-country features) with distribution records for Elaphe guttata
Informations on Elaphe guttata has been recorded for the following locations. Click on the name for additional informations.
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Location Status Invasiveness Occurrence Source
Details of Elaphe guttata in information
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Location note
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Impact information
Elaphe guttata is a generalist predator similar to the invasive brown treesnake (Boiga irregularis); it feeds on a wide variety of prey such as rodents, ground nesting birds, and occasionally lizards (Perry et al., 2003; Ferguson & Dixon, 2007). It has the potential to cause significant decline in a variety of native species. In its introduced range on Lesser Antillean Islands, it has the potential to be a serious competitor with existing native snake species such as the 'Critically Endangered (CR)' Antiguan racer (Alsophis antiguae) and the 'Endangered (EN)' leeward island racer (Alsophis rijersmai) (Henderson, 2004).

E. guttata is a potential host for alien pests and diseases, that could threaten native and domestic animals, an example given by Fisher & Csurhes (2009) is the reptile tick spread bacterium, Cowdria ruminantium which can result in the death of grazing animals. E. guttata is also known as a vector of cryptosporosis (Xioa et al. 2004; in Fisher & Csurhes, 2009).

Red List assessed species 3: CR = 1; VU = 1; LC = 1;
View more species View less species
Locations
BAHAMAS
CAYMAN ISLANDS
Mechanism
[2] Predation
Outcomes
[2] Environmental Ecosystem - Habitat
  • [2] Reduction in native biodiversity
Management information
Preventative measures: A risk assessment for Australia modelled on reptiles and amphibians introduced to Britain and the USA based on taxonomy, climate matching, geographic range, and success of establishment elsewhere has classed Elaphe guttata as a \"Serious\" establishment risk in Australia with a 0.80 establishment risk score (Bomford, 2008).

Fisher & Csurhes (2009), observe that as E. guttata is very hard to detect, eradication once established is highly unlikely. They suggest that the only defence is preventative legislation that avoids introduction, possession and sale.

Other: As E. guttata has yet to be established or recognised as a major pest in most of the areas it has been introduced to (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009), information regarding management is lacking, Furthermore, there is little information on the eradication or control of invasive snakes in the literature, other than via manual capture and destruction (Fisher & Csurhes, 2009).

Locations
BAHAMAS
VIRGIN ISLANDS, U.S.
Management Category
Prevention
Unknown
Bibliography
28 references found for Elaphe guttata

Managment information
BEST Commission 2003, The National Invasive Species Strategy for The Bahamas. BEST, Nassau, The Bahamas, 34 pp.
Summary: Available from: http://www.rw.ttu.edu/perry/Reprints/07%20Little%20St%20James.pdf [Accessed 21 April 2010]
Bomford, M. 2008. Risk assessment models for establishment of exotic vertebrates in Australia and New Zealand. Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, Canberra.
Summary: Available from: http://www.feral.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Risk_Assess_Models_2008_FINAL.pdf [Accessed 19 August 2010]
Fisher, Paul L and Steve Csurhes, 2009. Pest animal risk assessment American corn snake Elaphe guttata. Biosecurity Queensland Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries
Summary: Available from: http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/documents/Biosecurity_EnvironmentalPests/IPA-American-Corn-Snake-Risk-Assessment.pdf [Accessed 21 April 2010]
Henderson, Robert W., Lesser Antillean snake faunas: distribution, ecology, and conservation concerns. Oryx. 38(3). July 2004. 311-320.
Summary: Link to Abstract: Available from:http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract;jsessionid=BB3D1F7AA5DEC343E16CF30C5DB6ACFA.journals?fromPage=online&aid=240079 [Accessed 29 April 2013]
IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)., 2010. A Compilation of Information Sources for Conservation Managers.
Summary: This compilation of information sources can be sorted on keywords for example: Baits & Lures, Non Target Species, Eradication, Monitoring, Risk Assessment, Weeds, Herbicides etc. This compilation is at present in Excel format, this will be web-enabled as a searchable database shortly. This version of the database has been developed by the IUCN SSC ISSG as part of an Overseas Territories Environmental Programme funded project XOT603 in partnership with the Cayman Islands Government - Department of Environment. The compilation is a work under progress, the ISSG will manage, maintain and enhance the database with current and newly published information, reports, journal articles etc.
Massam M, Kirkpatrick W and Page A., 2010. Assessment and prioritisation of risk for forty introduced animal species. Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, Canberra.
Summary: This report documents work contributing to a project commissioned by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre to validate and refine risk assessment models used in decisions to import and manage introduced vertebrate species. The intent of the project was to: a) increase predictive accuracy, scientific validation and adoption of risk assessment models for the import and keeping of exotic vertebrates, and b) reduce the risk of new vertebrate pests establishing introduced populations in Australia.
Available from: http://www.feral.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/DAFWA_RA_060510.pdf [Accessed 16 March 2011]
Perry, Gad; Platenberg, Renata, 2007. Recent additions to the herpetofauna of little St. James, US Virgin Islands. Applied herpetology. 4(4). 2007. 387-389
Summary: Available from: http://www.rw.ttu.edu/perry/Reprints/07%20Little%20St%20James.pdf [Accessed 21 April 2010]
Platenberg, R.J., Boulon, R.H., Jr. 2006: Conservation status of reptiles and amphibians in the U.S.Virgin Islands. Appl. Herpetol. 3: 215-235.
Summary: Available from: http://fw.dpnr.gov.vi/wild/Docs/Newsletters/USVI%20herps.pdf [Accessed 21 April 2010]
van Buurt, Gerard, 2006. Conservation of amphibians and reptiles in Aruba, Cura�ao and Bonaire. Applied Herpetology 3: 307-321
Summary: Available from: http://www.mina.vomil.an/Pubs/Buurt-ConservationAmphiRepsABCislands-APHE2006.pdf [Accessed 21 April 2010]
General information
Cornsnake Morph Gallery, 2009.
Summary: Available from: http://www.cornsnakemorphgallery.com/ [Accessed 27 April 2010]
Daltry, Jennifer C., 2007. An introduction to the herpetofauna of Antigua, Barbuda and Redonda, with some conservation recommendations. Applied Herpetology, Volume 4, Number 2, 2007 , pp. 97-130(34)
Ferguson, Adam W.; Dixon, Michael T., 2007. Elaphe guttata emoryi (Great plains ratsnake). Diet Herpetological Review. 38(3). SEP 2007. 340.
Franz, R., G. S. Morgan, and J. E. Davies. 1987. Some recent introduction of reptiles in the Cayman Islands, West Indies. Herpetol. Rev. 18:10-11.
Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), 2010. Elaphe guttata (Linnaeus, 1766)
Summary: Available from: http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=174175 [Accessed 21 April 2010]
Kraus, F., & Cravalho, D. 2001. The risk to Hawaii from snakes. Pacific Science, 55 (4), 409-417
Kraus, Fred, 2009. Alien Reptiles and Amphibians A Scientific Compendium and Analysis In: Invading nature- Springer Series in Invasion Ecology Volume 4 Series Editor: JAMES A. DRAKE University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, U.S.A.
Lawson, Dwight P.; Keck, Michael B.; Jennings, W. Bryan, 1993. Elaphe guttata (Corn Snake) Herpetological Review. 24(3). 1993. 109.
Lee, D. S., 2005. Reptiles and amphibians introduced to the Bahamas; a potential conservation crisis. Bahamas Journal of Science [Bahamas J. Sci.]. Vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 2-6. May 2005.
Summary: The number of exotic species of reptiles and amphibians introduced to the Bahamas continues to grow. Lee (2005) reviews the documented introductions and reports on four additional species.
NatureServe Explorer, 2009. Pantherophis guttatus - (Linnaeus, 1766) Red Cornsnake
Summary: Available from: http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/servlet/NatureServe?searchName=Elaphe+guttata [Accessed 21 April 2010]
Perry, G., J. Pierce, D. Griffin, G. Van Buurt, & J. Lazell. 2003. Elaphe guttata guttata. Herpetological Review 34:264-265.
Powell, Robert, 2006. Conservation of the herpetofauna on the Dutch Windward Islands: St. Eustatius, Saba, and St. Maarten. Applied Herpetology 3: 293-306
Williams, Avery A., 1998. Serpentes: Elaphe guttata (Corn Snake). Herpetological Review. 29(3). Sept., 1998. 176.
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