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American corn snakes sighted in the South East

December 2017/January 2018

We are asking that land managers and members of the community keep an eye out for the invasive American corn snake (pictured) after six specimens were detected in South East NSW in 2017. The snake, which originates in the US and Mexico grows up to 180cm in length and is non-venomous, although will strike if disturbed.

The snake is a potential host for exotic pests and diseases which threaten native and domestic animals, such as the reptile tick spread bacterium (Cowdria ruminantium) which can result in the death of grazing animals thereby representing a risk to Australian agricultural industries. The corn snake is also known to carry the parasite, Cryptosporidium which can infect humans, domestic and native animals with diarrhoeal disease.

This constrictor snake may have vibrant reddish or orange blotches edged in black on grey or orange background (the skin colour may deepen with age). The snake takes its name from the pattern on its underside which resembles multi-coloured corn. These snakes can also be light in coloured, or albino.

As a predator, the corn snake threatens many species of fauna including rodents, ground nesting birds and lizards.

The corn snake is a known invasive species (and cannot be imported legally into Australia); it is classified as a Prohibited Dealing under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015.

We ask that you avoid handling snakes unless trained to do so. The variable markings, as described above, mean that it is easy to misidentify. If you do encounter what you suspect to be an American corn snake we ask that you make a note of the location and, if safe to do so, take a photo which can later be used for identification purposes.

If you have seen or are in possession of an American corn snake please contact the biosecurity team at your nearest Local Land Services office.