Feral animals are now taking a different twist. There have been recent sightings of the American Corn Snake Pantherophis guttatus throughout the greater Sydney area. American Corn Snake is a nonvenomous small to medium-sized, slender snake which originates from the United States of America and Mexico. Adult snakes can grow up to 180 cm long. Colouration in the American Corn Snake species is highly variable however the most common form is orange or brownishyellow with large black-edged red blotches down the middle of its back. For more information and pictures on the American corn snake see https:// www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/animals-andlivestock/ nia/american-corn-snake.
The American Corn Snake can potentially carry ticks that spread the bacterium Cowdria ruminantium that, although not lethal to reptiles, can kill grazing animals. American Corn Snakes are also a vector of cryptosporosis, a diarrhoeal disease.
The main ecological impacts where the American Corn Snake has been introduced are on native animals that may be consumed as prey, including mammals, birds, frogs and lizards. It is primarily active at night and is both a terrestrial burrower and extremely good climber. It only preys on nests at night, which is potentially dangerous to adult birds on the nest. Breeding occurs in spring and 3–40 eggs are laid during the summer. Individuals can live for up to 32 years in captivity.
The American Corn Snake is able to survive in a diverse range of habitats including open grassland, forest, agricultural land and semiurban areas. These characteristics and the ability of the species to hide under objects, burrow underground and to climb trees, make detection of the snake in an open environment difficult. Because the American Corn Snake is difficult to detect, eradication once established in the wild is difficult.
The American Corn Snake is considered a serious invasive species and is listed as prohibited under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015. It is an offence to deal with or posses an American Corn Snake unless authorised by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI). You can expect fines in the thousands of dollars for having an unauthorised American Corn Snake.
Any information on American Corn Snake detected in NSW can be reported to NSW DPI through: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/forms/report-anunusual- animal-sighting or email: [email protected] or The Invasive Plants and Animals Inquiry Line – 1800 680 244