How to Tell if Corn Snakes Are Male or Female

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If you see a corn snake in the wild, there will be little to give away the snake's gender. Both adult males and females range in length from 10 to 72 inches, depending on age and morph. Coloration varies among species, but differences do not occur between male and female coloration within a species. The only sure way to tell the gender of your corn snake is to have a herpetologist perform probing or popping.

Popping Takes Practice

The goal of popping is to bring a baby snake's genitals into view of the cloacal or vent opening. It takes practice and patience to hold the snake in position, but a successful procedure pops the male's two hemepenes -- usually concealed inside-out within the tail -- out of his vent. A female has two smaller scent glands, which appear as tiny red dots during the popping procedure.

Probing Only So Far

To probe a snake to determine gender, a herpetologist inserts a thin rod with a small ball on the end into the snake's cloacal opening. It descends down one of the two hemipenes in the male snake, about 10 to 12 millimeters in a small snake or up to 70 millimeters in a larger snake. But the probe will enter a large female snake no more than 12 millimeters and a small female snake no more than 1 to 2 millimeters.

Injury to Your Snake

Only a trained herpetologist should perform popping or probing, as your snake's genitals may be seriously injured in untrained hands.

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    A former world-class swimmer, J.T. O'Connell shares her love of adventure travel, extreme sports and pets through thousands of published articles. O'Connell studied journalism at Grand Canyon University, and brings professional experience as a tour guide and travel consultant. She authors the blog, Traveling With Large Dogs.