Sightings of invasive species on the rise

A corn snake. Photo:  Justin McManus.
A corn snake. Photo: Justin McManus.

Land managers and community members are asked to keep their eyes peeled for corn snakes in 2018, after six specimens of the invasive species were found in South East NSW during 2018.

Originating in Mexico and the USA, the snake can grow up to 180 centimetres long. It is not venomous, but may strike if disturbed. 

The snake poses a risk to Australian agricultural industries, as a potential host to exotic pests and diseases which can threaten native and domestic animals, including grazing animals. These include the bacterium Cowdria ruminantium, spread by reptile ticks, which can cause the death of grazing animals.

The snake may also carry the parasite Cryptosporidium which can cause diarrhoeal disease in humans, as well as domestic and native animals.

A distinctive pattern on its underside, resembling multi-coloured corn, gives the snake its name. Vibrant reddish or orange blotches, edged with black on a grey or orange background make up the snakes skin, which may deepen in colour with age. Snakes may also be lightly coloured or albino.

As an invasive species, the snake cannot be legally imported into Australia. 

Members of the public should avoid handling snakes unless trained to do so. The snake’s variable appearance and marking means it is easy to wrongly identify. 

Anyone encountering what they believe to be an American corn snake should make a note of the location, and if it is safe to do so, take a photo for later identification purposes.

To report a siting contact the Biosecurity Team at the closest Local Land Services office.