Whether you’re looking to get a corn snake and are just checking if you’ll be safe, or you’ve had one for a while and they’ve suddenly started getting slightly aggressive, this article is for you. If you’re asking yourself the question: “Are corn snakes aggressive?” Then this blog post will tell you everything you need to know.

Corn snake temperament is an interesting topic. Actually, judging the temperament of any animal is interesting since, most of the time, it’s quite a subjective subject.

If you’re reading this though, you’re not after a subjective answer. So, without further ado, let’s learn more about corn snake temperament and aggression.

An aggressive corn snake that's actually joking

Aggressive corn snake

In general, corn snakes are not aggressive snakes. They’re actually quite calm and relaxed and are usually fine with you coming into their cage to clean or even picking them up.

Corn snakes make wonderful starter snakes and are a great pet. They are easy to feed, respond well to handling and are great snakes to watch going about their business.

Given their size, you’re more of a danger to your corn snake than it is to you. Drop it, or accidentally handle it too hard, and you can cause it a very nasty injury, life-threatening even. If a corn snake bites you, you won be any worse off (except maybe a small bite mark).

That being said, there are a few cases when corn snakes can become more aggressive. These are usually few and far between, but it can happen.

Why is my corn snake suddenly aggressive?

Your corn snake suddenly getting aggressive can be down to a lot of different reasons. Usually, it’s more irritation than real aggression though.

  • When they’re feeding

In some cases, corn snakes mistake a finger or a hand for a nice juicy mouse. Obviously, this isn’t really aggression, but it may still be seen as it by its owner.

If you’re having problems with your snake lunging at you or even biting you during feeding, make sure you use long enough tongs and make it clear to the snake where its food is!

Also, if you’re not already, heat up the mice slightly in a bowl of warm water. This makes it easier for the snake to locate the mouse, as they’re heat-sensitive.

  • During the shedding process

How would you like it if your skin started peeling off from head to toe?

I thought so!

When a snake is shedding, they’re not in their best state of mind and you really shouldn’t bother them.

Not only is there a good chance that the skin scraping across everything is a little uncomfortable and overstimulating, but they also can’t see very well when the skin over their eyes starts peeling.

When your corn snake starts shedding, try to leave them alone as much as you can. If they can’t see what’s coming towards them they are more likely to lunge out. This is usually less of a problem for older snakes that have gotten used to their owners barging in uninvited.

Wondering how old they can get? Check out our post on a corn snake’s lifespan.

  • When stressed or threatened

A corn snake is still an animal, and when they feel threatened there’s a good chance that they will get a little grumpy.

Always move slowly and intentionally to prevent startling your snake. This is more important when you first get your corn snake and are just getting it used to you than later on once he gets to know you a little better.

Be careful not to handle them too hard, and try to approach them from the side, not from above.

Are male or female corn snakes more aggressive?

The question of whether male or female corn snakes are more aggressive is another one that’s understandable. In more well-known pets like dogs and cats, gender plays a large role in how aggressive (or potentially aggressive) the animal is.

In corn snakes though, this isn’t really the case.

There’s not much difference between male and female corn snakes. The only thing is that you can’t place two male corn snakes in the same enclosure.

As with most animals, males can get a little territorial at times which can lead to some issues and “arguments” between male snakes. However, we’re going to assume that you’re not a male snake reading this post!

It’s not advised to place two male corn snakes in the same enclosure for this exact reason (If you are a male snake reading this post, don’t get in the enclosure with your male neighbour).

The difference in temperament between male and female corn snakes is pretty much non-existent though. Both males and females are usually calm, collected and great pets.

Should they show signs of aggression then this is usually something to do with their upbringing or environmental factors.

How to pick up an aggressive corn snake

Even though a corn snake’s temperament is generally good, you won’t be the first to have a snake that goes through a grumpy fase.

Especially when they are still young, it’s not uncommon for corn snakes to get a little grumpy and show signs of aggression.

There are a few things you should do to ensure that the problem doesn’t escalate.

  • Check the setup

Is there anything that may be stressing the snake or is there a reason why they are suddenly displaying this behavior?

This could be things like changes in their environment, to changes outside of their environment like builders working next door.

If there’s something that you’ve changed in their setup, or that has changed due to external factors, try removing these stress factors for the snake.

  • Don’t back down!

Maybe your snake has just gotten a bit “un-used to you” and needs to get used to handling again.

Whatever you do, don’t back away when the snake gets grumpy. The snake will learn that they only have to lunge at you to get you to leave. This will only make the situation worse.

However, making the snake more stressed isn’t a great option either…

So, how do you handle an aggressive corn snake?

Handling an aggressive corn snake

First off, you need to move calmly and intentionally. The more you make sudden movements, the more likely it is that your snake will lunge or get stressed.

Secondly, make sure you’re coming in from the side and not from above. As with most reptiles, birds are a predator that they really want to avoid (they’re probably not big fans of being stepped on either!). If you have a tank that only opens from the top, try buying one that opens from the side in order to not come across as intimidating to your corn snake.

When going to pick up your corn snake, just slowly and intentionally pick them up from the side, just how you’d do it in the past.

If they lunge or hiss, just slowly keep going. Don’t back away and try not to make the whole experience drag out longer than it needs to.

A corn snake bite doesn’t hurt, and it’s only going to hurt both you and the snake more if you don’t break through this barrier!

You can use a tool to keep their head away from your arms slightly too, just don’t be scared to get bit anyway. You can also wear some thick gloves, but this may make it challenging to pick up the snake with.

More often than not, your corn snake will relax the moment that you are handling them. They should at least stop lunging anyway.

Then, after a 10 to 15-minute session, place them back into their enclosure, and repeat the next day.

Do this daily until your snake is completely used to you picking them up!

Handling them for too long periods of time will only stress them out. By keeping the sessions short you help to minimize the stress to your snake and get them used to you slowly.

Are you debating whether to get a corn snake or a ball python after reading this article? We’ve got an article that put both these snakes up against each other, called ball python vs corn snake.


As you can see, corn snakes are not aggressive snakes. They’re reasonably calm and are a great beginner snake for exactly this reason. However, there are still times when your corn snake might become slightly aggressive.

If this is the case, just follow the tips in this article and you should be well on your way to fixing the issue! Enjoy your pet snake and remember to keep herping!

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