Corn snakes are not venomous, but if you are looking to get one as a pet, keep in mind that they do bite. Corn snakes can open their mouths to an impressive extent.
So, just how wide can it open its mouth?
How Wide a Corn Snake Can Open Its Mouth?
Corn snakes can open their mouth up to four times wider than the widest part of their body, between 6-14 centimeters. The corn snake can open its mouth roughly to a 150-degree angle. This is useful for the corn snake in both devouring prey and protection.
How Wide Can a Corn Snake Open its Mouth: The Truth
Corn snakes range from approximately 24 to 72 inches in length when fully grown. The common girth of a corn snake is around 1.5 to 3.5 centimeters.
This gives the corn snake the ability to open its mouth between 6 and 14 centimeters.
The reason why snakes have adapted to the method of opening their mouth so wide comes down to the process of consuming prey.
A corn snake cannot eat prey that is larger than its mouth due to the way that it consumes food. Unlike us, a corn snake does not chew, they swallow their food whole.
To work around this, a corn snake has a specially designed jaw structure that allows for the corn snake to increase not only the vertical opening but the width of its mouth.
This adaption allows the corn snake to open its mouth wider than its actual body.
Why a Corn Snake Needs to Open its Mouth So Wide
There are a few reasons that a corn snake needs the ability to open its mouth so wide. It comes down to feeding, protection, and distress.
When a corn snake is feeding, it does so in a way that it slowly wraps around and suffocates its prey. Once the prey is subdued, the corn snake will eat its prey whole.
To do that, they need to be able to open their mouths wide enough that the prey can be easily swallowed.
As corn snakes are not venomous, they have two methods of protection. They have a powerful bite and wrap-around threats to suffocate them.
When it comes to biting a threat, the larger the width and the vertical degree that the corn snake can open its mouth, the more likely it can fend off predators.
Corn snakes open their mouth wide when in distress or when they need a deeper understanding of their environment. Snakes, unlike other creatures, sense predominantly with their mouth.
Opening their mouth is not always the sign of distress, they could simply be trying to decipher the situation that they are in.
On the other hand, your corn snake could open its mouth as wide as possible due to a medical emergency.
Corn Snakes and Unhinging Their Jaw to Open Wider
It is a common myth that snakes unhinge or dislocate their jaw when they open their mouth so wide. This impressive process comes down to how the structure of snakes has evolved.
You may have seen videos of snakes eating prey that is significantly larger than them. The structure of their mouth is unique.
Corn snakes are able to open their mouth to an impressive width due to the fact that they process extra bones, skin, and their lower jaws are not directly connected to their upper jaws.
The mandible (or the lower jaw) is attached by a ligament that can endure significant strain to allow it to spread open horizontally.
Due to the way that the corn snake’s mouth is constructed, they do not need to unhinge or dislocate their jaw to open their mouth so wide. The way that their jaw is structured allows them to open their mouth wide with ease.
Frequently Asked Questions About How Wide a Corn Snake Can Open its Mouth
If my corn snake opens its mouth in my direction, is it angry?
Corn snakes open their mouths wide to learn more about their surroundings. Corn snakes can detect more by gathering chemical information about their surroundings by opening their mouth. This is not a sign of aggression.
Why does my corn snake sometimes open its mouth wide like it’s yawning?
You may notice your corn snake opening its mouth wide, resembling how other mammals yawn. Your corn snake, however, is not telling you that it is tired. This is a sign that your corn snake is either hungry or is preparing to eat its next meal.
What if my corn snake opens its mouth and does not close it for an extended period?
While you will often see your corn snake opening its mouth wide, it is not normal for extended periods. Snakes do not breathe through their mouth. If you notice this behavior, call your veterinarian, as this could be either a respiratory or gastrointestinal issue.
Corn snakes can open their mouths wider as they get older.
How wide their mouths can open is an interesting factor when it comes to the sex of the corn snake, as both sexes can regularly mature to the same size.
The degree and width that corn snakes can open their mouths give them the ability to swallow their prey whole and protect themselves.