Corn Snake Gender Identification: A Simple Guide to Figuring Out if Your Snake is Male or Female


If you’re like many reptile owners, you might find yourself caring for your corn snake and wondering if it’s male or female. Unlike many animals in the wild, where it takes only a quick glance to determine gender, figuring out the sex of your corn snake requires some effort. 

You can determine the gender of your corn snake through probing and popping. Probing measures the number of scales, with males having 8 to 16 and females only a couple. Popping reveals the presence of two hemipenes in males or small red dot-shaped glands in females. 

It’s highly recommended that you have a herpetologist probe or pop your corn snake, as doing it incorrectly can harm the snake.

How To Determine the Sex Of a Corn Snake

Two common methods used to determine the sex of a corn snake are probing and popping. 

Probing involves gently inserting a small metal probe into the snake’s vent, located at the base of the tail, to determine the presence of hemipenes, the internal reproductive organs of male snakes. Popping involves gently squeezing the vent area to physically force the hemipenes out of the snake’s body, making them visible. 

Both methods should only be performed by experienced professionals or experienced hobbyists who are familiar with the proper technique and have the proper equipment. 

How To Probe Your Corn Snake

To probe your corn snake, follow the steps outlined below. The process is meant to sex the snake, not kill it. Always be extra cautious and gentle while handling the snake.

Gently follow this process:

  1. Gently handle the snake and place it on a flat surface, such as a table or counter. You might need extra hands to help hold the snake face up and support the middle part of the snake. Don’t grasp it from underneath the head as it interferes with its normal breathing.  
  2. Locate the snake’s vent, which is located at the base of the tail.
  3. Carefully insert a probe, which is a thin metal rod, into the vent, being careful not to cause any harm or injury to the snake. Ball-tipped probes are considered the safest and should be used if available. In the absence of a ball-tipped probe, a dull-tipped one can be used, but it should be longer, not exceeding 4 mm (0.16”),  for extra caution. 
  4. Slowly insert the probe until you feel the snake’s hemipenes, which are located near the base of the tail. 
  5. Measure the probe’s distance from the vent to the hemipenes to determine the snake’s sex. If the probe went in a couple of scales, the corn snake is more likely a female and a male if the probe covers between 8 to 16 scales.

If you are looking for a probe, I recommend getting the REPTI ZOO Snake Probe Kit from Amazon.com.

REPTI ZOO Snake Probe Kit 6 Pieces Round Ball Tip Professional Reptiles Snake Sexing Kit Probes Set

$14.99  in stock
Amazon.com
as of 06/01/2024 9:59 pm

This is a collection of 6 stainless steel probes designed specifically for determining the sex of snakes, and they feature a rounded head design that is gentle on snakes and easy to use, making the measurement process more accurate.

How To Pop a Corn Snake

Popping is a technique that is often recommended for younger corn snakes, and it involves bringing the snake’s cloacal opening into view

Unlike probing, popping a corn snake requires skill and patience as it necessitates holding the snake in a specific position. The procedure is successful when two hemipenes are revealed, indicating that the snake is male

Conversely, if two smaller glands are revealed, which appear as small red dots, the snake is female.

I recommend viewing the following YouTube video on the technique of popping a snake. While the video does not specifically focus on corn snakes, it provides a comprehensive overview of the process for snakes in general:

Conclusion 

Determining the sex of your corn snake can be challenging, as the physical characteristics of male and female corn snakes are nearly identical. Probing or popping, when performed correctly, can be used to differentiate the sexes. 

While these procedures may appear simple, it is essential to seek the assistance of an experienced herpetologist or caretaker with the skills and knowledge to avoid causing harm to the snake.  

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