Come commit science with me!

After having numerous battles over some particularly bad feeding age/weight/length guides on the internet lately, especially one that people have been using to defend their obese snakes, I have decided on a proper and traditional outlet for my spite: SCIENCE!

As a vet tech who worked under a reptile vet for 3 years, a keeper of 16 years whose animals body conditions have been praised by the reptile vets they see, and a breeder of 13 years experience, I want to take what I have learned and experienced and make it useful.

I am working to come up with actual, factual, accurate weight ranges based on length (in 6 inch increments) for snakes that are proper body condition (scoring 5/9). And because it can be hard to tell that a snake is becoming overweight before external signs are visible, especially for inexperienced keepers, I’m also working to come up with a simple, objective, guideline for that as well. I have something with high potential on that front already, but want to confirm with more animals.

So while I have the numbers from my own adults, and the adults from a local breeder friend who is joining me in data crunching, and some other people online, we definitely want more numbers to work with, and a variety of body types to learn from.

Here’s what we need:

  • Your snake's age (in years)
  • Your snake's weight (in grams)
  • A top-down photo of your snake's entire body with an inch or centimeter reference. (see photo below)

All of this information entered in our online form, linked below or copy/pasta:

We’d love to get data on older snakes, younger snakes, fatter snakes, skinnier snakes. If you’ve got a corn snake we want their age, weight, and a photo of them with a measuring device.

We’ve got about 50 datapoints already (a similar, published study in germany used 22 animals) but the more we have the more accurate we can make it.


Ohhh I think I saw a post from y’all go by on tumblr! I don’t have corns or I’d happily weigh in, and I wish you all the success in your info-gathering!


Would Texas rat snakes work as well or corns exclusively


We’re focusing specifically on corns at the moment because that is the species we both have and know well, but I would suspect that most of it would translate easily to the other north american ratsnakes species. I wouldn’t be against branching out in the future.


I love this idea! There’s so much conflicting information out there in regards to keeping snakes - from feeding to husbandry and beyond. I remember being a brand new snake keeper, researching best practices, and getting frustrated because there doesn’t seem to be a solid consensus on most things. This will be extremely helpful! As a fellow woman of science, I’d love to help add data points, but I only have a boa right now. Keep us updated on the results, and if you do branch out to other species!


Will do! One data point that I’m finding very intriguing is the head:midbody width ratio. Taking these knowledge points: the midbody should be the thickest part of the snake (outside of instances like ‘needs to defecate’ and ‘ovulating/gravid’), and the internal fat deposits gain size caudally to cranially as the animal begins to gain too much weight, and these deposits max out in size before the more obvious external fat deposits begin developing…
I had noticed that obese snakes, and even those not so obviously outwardly obese looked like their heads were ‘small’ in comparison to the width of the body. So I took those two measurment points, and of my 14 adult snakes, 10 fell into a range of 0.7 to 0.8.
Of the 4 that did not, one is an extremely obese male whom I took on as obese (1.06), one was juuuuust outside the range (0.82) but that was indeed the thickest part of the body for that female, and 2 were males that I was already beginning to consider putting on a diet (0.93 and 0.92). Both those males had a 3/4 point width equal to or greater than the midbody. One female at the cusp (0.8), had a 3/4 body measurement of 0.89, so she too is joining the diet brigade.
My 8 yearlings, using the same measurements, have fallen between 0.6 and 0.75.


Science is happening!

69 individuals submitted so far
53 are 2 years old or older

The majority of the sub-adult/adult snakes have fallen between 200 and 475 grams. This includes snakes that are 54 inches long and not underweight.
11 adults have been above 500 grams, of these 8 have have been overweight (BCS 7-9/9) (73%). The 3 snakes in an ‘acceptable’ BCS range while weighing over 500 grams have been 66, 56, and 51 inches long.
Only 3 of the submitted snakes have been 60 inches or longer (5.6% of those 2+ years old).
17 snakes were 50 inches or longer (32% of those 2+ years old)
The majority of snakes identified as being in an ‘acceptable’ body condition (BCS 4-6/9) have had a head length (nose tip to point of the jaw) to mid-body width (as measured from above) ratio between 0.7 and 0.8.
The majority of snakes identified as being overweight (BCS 7-9/9) have had a head length to mid-body width ratio of 0.9 and above.

More submissions will let us refine these numbers even further! A project of this size has never before been attempted, or at least never published, and this is a super awesome opportunity for all of us to learn together!


Oh, I think I should submit my girl because she’s really off the charts for size lol :joy:. But I barely feed her :joy:


So my phone makes photos too big lol :joy:

So here is my submission @spiritserpents

1.5 years
447 grams

Each title is 12x12

  • she is due to poop and only get fed every two week 1 small mouse.

I just calculated her length at 3 feet 10 inches


Couple questions:

How certain are you on her age?
How big was she when you got her?

Because to be that size at that age is flabbergasting, and I can’t see how this could possibly happen without some extreme powerfeeding.


He’s certain on age. It was produced by another individual here in the community. She could’ve been a hatchling when he got her.


I know and that’s the answer that I’ve gotten too. That is why I am so quiet about her growing like this. @noodlehaus produced her, so I am sure of her age. And I definitely know how often I feed her. She was a runt that hatched from a leaky egg so I am very careful on how fast she has grown.

Maybe Jess can weigh in on some of this


Fascinating. Almost wonder if she has a metabolic condition. It really might be worth going to a vet with her feeding schedule and age and getting some bloodwork done to get her checked out. A pituitary issue might be at cause.


I doubt she has a metabolic condition, because if she did, the rest of the clutch would likely have the same. The entire clutch, save for two problem feeders, were all near or over 200g by one year of age, no power feeding involved. I still have half the clutch, three females that were weighed 42 days ago, all between 200-214g. I then have one male & female, problem feeders. The female is 101g, the male 57g as of their last weigh in. The only notable difference between the snakes that stayed here and Leaky is the climate, as I’m in the Minnesota and @lumpy is in Florida, and he gives her lots of outdoor enrichment time. Leaky left here when she was just under two months old, and was already 22g at that time. I feel bad that Riley has dealt with a lot of criticism about her size, everything was done by the book, she’s just kept growing and growing.

I will try to get photos of the ones I still have. This was the first pairing of that particular dam & sire, and no other clutch I have produced since has shown a growth rate as extreme as that first one, despite the same sire being involved. All my hatchlings are fed according to the recommended corn snake/colubrid schedule, starting as hatchlings at one meal every 5-6 days and increasing the intervals as they age.


I wonder if it could be as simple as “some people grow tall, others are average height, and some are short”?


Personally, I think that it’s actually combination of a bunch of polygenic factors from the fact that the pairing consisted of larger than average parents. And she’s just an example of an outlying member even for the standard of her lineage.

I plan to try to see if this is consistent with some breeding trials eventually. I know it’s a longshot, but I think it would be worth something if it did prove to be some lineage type for larger than average corns.


I would definitely be interested in seeing that. My Eugene did not produce any corns that ended up growing larger than average. His daughter that I kept hit 50 inches, so not even at the high end of ‘normal’ for a corn.


So, I realize I’m a goofball. Sorry, @spiritserpents . I posted a handful of snakes’ info to the link in your first post. I didn’t include the info that mine get NutriBac probiotic dusted on their prey once monthly after they hit about 3 months of age. Apologies.


absolutely no worries on that front!


general science update!

126 individuals submitted so far
78 are 2 years old or older

The majority of the sub-adult/adult snakes have fallen between 200 and 500 grams.

15 adults have been above 500 grams (19%), of these 8 have have been overweight (BCS 7-9/9) (53%).

6 snakes were over 700 grams, of these 5 have been overweight (83%).

1 snake over 500 grams has been underweight (BCS 1-3/9) (6%) and was 66 inches long.

26 snakes were 50 inches or longer (33% of those 2+ years old).

9 snakes were 55 inches or longer (12% of those 2+ years old).

4 snakes were 60 inches or longer (5% of those 2+ years old).

The longest snake submitted so far was 66 inches.

The majority of snakes identified as being in an ‘acceptable’ body condition (BCS 4-6/9) have a head length (nose tip to point of the jaw) to mid-body width (as measured from above) ratio between 0.7 and 0.83.

The majority of snakes identified as being overweight (BCS 7-9/9) continue to have a head length to mid-body width ratio of 0.9 and above.