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Are corn snakes gray?

Corn snakes are a popular pet snake that come in a variety of beautiful colors and patterns. Their docile nature, modest size, and relatively simple care requirements make them an excellent choice for beginner snake owners. But one of the most common questions about corn snakes is – what color are they? More specifically, do corn snakes come in gray?

The Typical Coloring of Corn Snakes

Corn snakes (scientific name: Pantherophis guttatus) are native to the southeastern United States. Their natural habitat ranges from New Jersey to Florida and as far west as Texas and Louisiana. The classic “normal” coloration of wild-type corn snakes consists of a light orange or tan base color with red-orange blotches outlined in black down the length of the body. This pattern allows corn snakes to blend into their native habitat of corn fields, allowing them to hide from predators and sneak up on prey.

Selective breeding in captivity, however, has produced a wide array of different color morphs outside of the normal corn snake appearance. But generally speaking, corn snakes do not display gray as a primary color in their natural state. Their background color ranges from yellow to brown to orange, with darker blotches providing contrast and camouflage.

Gray Snake Species Commonly Mistaken for Corn Snakes

There are a few different species of snake that are sometimes confused with corn snakes due to similar size and habits, and some of these do display varying amounts of gray coloration. These include:

  • Gray rat snakes – As the name suggests, these snakes have a gray or light brown base color with darker blotches. They occupy a similar geographic range and habitat as corn snakes.
  • Texas rat snakes – Especially young ones, these snakes can look remarkably similar to corns with their pattern and coloring. Texas rat snakes display more grays and browns in their color palette compared to the more vibrant corn snake.
  • Slowinski’s cornsnake – A close relative of the common corn snake found in Texas and Louisiana. Their background color is more muted gray rather than orange.

The overlapping range and physical similarities between these species means they are sometimes accidentally sold as corn snakes by pet stores or breeders when they are in fact not true corn snakes. This can lead to confusion about whether corn snakes naturally display gray coloration.

Gray Color Morphs in Captive Bred Corn Snakes

While wild corn snakes do not normally demonstrate gray colors, selective captive breeding has led to quite a few different color and pattern mutations that introduce various shades of gray into corn snakes’ appearance.

Some examples include:

  • Lavender – A diluted version of the normal pattern with grayish-purple background color
  • Ghost – Very light gray or silver background with little to no visible pattern
  • Anerythristic (“Anery”) – Lacking red/orange pigments, resulting in a gray, brown, and black color scheme
  • Charcoal – Dark gray or black background color
  • Silver Queen – Silvery white and gray coloration
  • Plasma – Pattern mutation with smoky gray and silver colors

There are also combinations that mix these morphs together, such as lavender ghost or charcoal anery corn snakes. So within the world of captive bred color mutations, there are certainly many types of corn snakes that prominently feature gray tones.

Example Gray Corn Snake Morphs

Here are a few examples of some particularly stunning gray corn snake color morphs:

Morph Photo Description
Lavender Lavender corn snake Soft grayish-purple background with deep reddish-purple saddles and blotches outlined in white
Anerythristic Anerythristic corn snake Gray or brown background color with dark gray, brown, or black markings
Charcoal Charcoal corn snake Jet black or dark gray body with slightly lighter gray saddles and markings
Silver Queen Silver Queen corn snake Stunning silvery white and pale gray coloration

Why Corn Snakes Don’t Naturally Have Gray Coloring

So why doesn’t the natural coloration of wild corn snakes include gray tones? There are a few possible reasons:

  • Camouflage – The orange-brown base color and reddish-orange blotches provides effective camouflage in the reddish fallen leaves of their natural habitat. Grays and silvers would stand out.
  • Warming – The darker pigments help wild corn snakes absorb heat from sunlight to help regulate their body temperature.
  • Warning coloration – The vivid red and orange hues serve as a warning to potential predators that corn snakes may be venomous, even though they are not.

In the wild, duller gray coloration would not provide the same survival advantages as the brighter normal corn snake colors. But in captivity, where camouflage and thermoregulation are less crucial, gray morphs can thrive and are bred mainly for their aesthetic appeal.

Prevalence of Gray Morphs in the Pet Trade

So how popular and prevalent are gray color morph corn snakes among breeders and collectors? Gray corn snakes are moderately common, but not nearly as widespread as some other morphs like amelanistic, bloodred, or okeetee.

Some reasons why gray morphs are less prevalent include:

  • Many gray morphs like lavender and silver queen are relatively newly discovered and still being established and propagated in breeding programs.
  • Breeding for gray coloration often involves recessive genes, making it more challenging to produce gray offspring.
  • The high contrast and vivid coloring of other morphs like bloodred or candy cane often have broader appeal among collectors.

That said, unique gray morphs and combinations tend to be highly valued among breeders and enthusiasts. Their rarity and the difficulty producing them gives them collectability appeal.

Cost and Availability of Gray Corn Snakes

The cost of gray corn snakes can vary considerably depending on the rarity and demand for the particular morph. Some pricing examples:

  • Normal gray corn snakes – $50 to $150
  • Lavender corn snakes – $100 to $250
  • Anerythristic gray corn snakes – $75 to $200
  • Charcoal corn snakes – $200 to $400
  • Silver Queen – $300 to $600+

The most common gray varieties like lavender and anerythristic tend to be reasonably affordable for most pet owners. But some of the rarer recessive gene combinations producing unique gray coloration can fetch prices of several hundred dollars, sometimes over $1,000 for specimen quality snakes.

Availability also varies. Normal gray corns and anerys can often be found for sale from breeders online or at reptile expos. But finding some of the cutting edge new gray morphs may require getting on a waitlist with a specialty breeder who is working on establishing the mutation.

Should You Consider a Gray Corn Snake?

Gray corn snakes combine the ease of care and mellow temperament that makes corns such great pets with beautifully distinctive coloration. A medium light gray, dark charcoal, or shimmering silver snake provides a different look from the more common oranges and reds.

Some things to keep in mind if considering one of the gray color morphs:

  • Gray corn snakes cost somewhat more than the average normal
  • Make sure to buy from a reputable breeder; grays are sometimes mixed up with other species
  • Prepare for the possibility of paying higher prices for some rarer recessive gray mutations
  • Gray snakes don’t always stay gray, sometimes developing more normal blushing with age

Overall, the unique and beautiful appearance of gray corn snakes make them special and sought after. With proper research into sourcing and pricing, they can make a wonderful addition to a corn snake collection or as a standout single pet snake.


In their natural wild form, corn snakes do not display gray as a primary color. But through selective breeding, a wide variety of stunning gray color morphs have been developed, from light silvery lavenders to jet black charcoals. Gray corn snakes offer a unique look with all the same great qualities of a traditional corn snake pet. Though some of the rarer recessive grays can be expensive, they are definitely worth considering for someone looking for a snake with distinctive coloring and patterns.