Miami Corn Snake Elaphe guttata guttata


Below: Silver and red adult male Miami corn snake

Miami Phase corn snake Elaphe guttata guttata

Corn snakes originating from Miami-Dade County in extreme southeastern Florida are well known for their gray to silver background coloration. Some believe that this coloration helps them to blend with the oolitic limestone ground of the Miami Rim Rock. Beautiful wild specimens are few and far between. In the 1970's, Bill and Kathy Love picked through large numbers of wild corn snakes collected in the Homestead area just south of Miami. They selected the ones with the cleanest silver backgrounds and nicknamed them "Miami Phase" corn snakes. We have shortened the label to simply "Miami corn" for our purposes.

In reality, many of the wild corn snakes in this area are rather unattractive. We have spent many days and nights in the field in this area and have come up with a precious few standout specimens to add to our Miami corn snake colony. We have incorporated some of the most beautiful captive stock descending from that area including specimens from the Love and Beau bloodlines.

Below: Silver and red adult female Miami corn snake.

Miami Phase corn snake Elaphe guttata guttata

The ideal Miami corn snake might be described as a silver snake with red blotches. Some have blotches that tend more towards orange than red. We have one adult in our colony that has an interesting "frosted" look to the blotches, with silver flecking invading the red space. The borders to the blotches can be variable with some having highly reduced black like the rosy rat snakes of the Keys and others having thick black borders like those typically associated with Okeetee corn snakes.

Below: "Frosty," a favorite adult female Miami corn snake with a frosted look to the blotches

Miami Phase corn snake Elaphe guttata guttata Frosty

As with other corn snakes, Miami corns are somewhat difficult to judge as hatchlings, but we tend to pick the ones with the highest contrast between the ground and blotch color and the least amount of orange or pinkish color on the neck. While with other corn snake varieties one would tend to prefer colorful background coloration, with Miami corns we like to see a more clean silver coloration.

Miami corn snakes are known for having smaller than average babies. Some of our females do produce small babies that tend to prefer lizards or tree frogs as first meals. We may be able to offer "out of the egg" discounts or special prices for guaranteed lizard feeders. We always get some eager pinky eaters also.

Below: An outstanding juvenile Miami corn snake with thick black borders to the blotches.

Miami Phase corn snake Elaphe guttata guttata



In the Wild

The natural habitats of the Miami coastal ridge, or "Rim Rock" are a fading memory to South Florida naturalists. The area was once covered with the unique South Florida variation of flatwoods called pine rockland, which was dotted with tropical hammocks comprised of trees characteristic of the Caribbean. These plant communities overlaid an oolitic limestone base. Oolite is a dense form of limestone which often holds a freshwater lens. Solution holes form where acid from decaying vegetation eats depressions into the limestone. These are used as shelter and a freshwater source for many wildlife species.

Below: South Florida slash pine in pine rockland habitat

Pine rockland Miami-Dade County, Florida

Eastern Miami-Dade County is now one of the most densely populated and developed areas of Florida. Only traces of natural habitat remain in a few small parks and preserves. The few remaining vacant lots that have not been built on now bear little resemblance to the unique natural landscape that once prevailed. Thickets of exotic vegetation like Brazilian pepper now dominate most of these areas. Only the southern tip of the Rim Rock, which barely protrudes into the vast marsh of the Everglades, still exists as an intact ecosystem.

Below: Brazilian pepper thicket in a disturbed habitat

Disturbed habitat Miami-Dade County, Florida

Even though the natural landscape is all but a memory, all is not lost. Certain adaptable species make due and some even thrive in disturbed environments. The corn snake is one of these. Unlike the wide ranging indigo snake, which needs large tracts of land with special types of shelter and foraging areas, and is quickly eliminated in areas of heavy automobile traffic, the corn snake thrives on small lots, road shoulders, and even urban backyards.

Below: A typical wild corn snake from Miami-Dade County, Florida

Miami Phase corn snake Elaphe guttata guttata Miami-Dade County, Florida

Even the diminutive Rim Rock crowned snake, which certainly wouldn't need a large area of habitat to survive, seems to require a certainly quality of upland habitat that is hard to find today. The corn snake takes advantage of dumped piles of garbage as shelter and preys on introduced lizard and rodent species. While the once common indigo snake has been reduced to a fragment of its former domain, and the Rim Rock crowned snake is nearly impossible to find in the tiny fraction of remaining suitable habitat, the corn snake may be as common as it ever was.

Below: Daniel Parker and Nick Mesa flip trash in an area where corn snakes are common. Several corn snakes have been found in this piece of plastic.

Daniel Parker Nick Mesa flip trash Miami-Dade County, Florida

Corn snakes are ubiquitous in Miami-Dade County and any dedicated field herper that puts a little time in is bound to turn up a few. While the lush "tin fields" that one might seek in other areas of the Southeast are basically nonexistent here, just about any sort of trash piled on top of the limestone will hold corn snakes. They also take shelter in any crevice above the ground and may be found wedged under the bark or in cracks in dead trees. These snakes are also commonly found under the "boots" of palm trees. At night, they can often be found on the prowl in trees, on fences, or crossing roads. Their activity period is typically later at night than in areas further to the north as the night time temperature drop is slow and not drastic.

Below: A subadult corn snake found in a dead Australian pine along a canal

Miami Phase corn snake Elaphe guttata guttata Miami-Dade County, Florida



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