By Brenna Saurey
The Compass, August 2022
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Hello! My name is Brenna Saurey and I breed corn snakes! Since I was a little girl, I have always loved animals. Growing up in North Carolina and Georgia I loved the wildlife found in my backyard and in the woods behind my house. We learned quickly which snakes we could catch and hold and which we had to be cautious around because they were venomous. Non-venomous corn snakes were always a colorful addition to our backyard which backed up to the woods. Even then, I was fascinated with their beauty, speed, and climbing abilities.
We eventually moved to Arizona, and I discovered that this state didn’t have native corn snakes. And though there were many different reptiles and animals to discover and love in Arizona, I’ve always remembered the fondness I had for corn snakes!
Throughout my life, I have owned many species of snakes: sand boas, ball pythons, red tail boas, western ground snakes, and a king snake, and I still dream of having a red-sided garter snake! It wasn’t until I had children that we finally got a corn snake. When my oldest son was 12 years old, he asked for a corn snake, and we got him one. I instantly fell in love with this curious snake! We named him Cruzer. He was a pewter morph, and he was friendly, smart, and always inquisitive about what we were doing as we passed his enclosure. Cruzer is a great ambassador for his breed.
Not long after, my son asked if we might get a female to breed with Cruzer. I began to research what breeding these incredible creatures would entail. I found many snake breeders who are experts in the field of Colubrids snakes. Two of these fellow breeders became my mentors and are also now my friends.
When I felt we were ready to try this new adventure, we bought a beautiful albino (amelanistic) female and named her Katniss, the “Snake on Fire.” We bred them and anxiously watched the incubator for over 2 months for the babies to hatch. We were thrilled one day to peek in and discover the pipping of little noses. We were expecting all classic, wild type morphs, but we were shocked! Some of the babies were pewter, a color which has to be specifically bred! It turned out that Katniss had hidden, non-visual genetics which matched Cruzer’s pewter color. The unexpected pewter babies excited my interest in corn snake genetics, and I began to study them. As a science teacher, and a mom of very curious kids, we were delighted to learn all about corn snake genetics.
Soon my other 2 kids also wanted corn snakes, and we happily obliged. Elsa, a snow morph, and Primrose, a diffused morph, joined the family. As we discovered more and more stunning colors, I, of course, had to get a couple of corn snakes of my own. Murphy, a strawberry ghost morph, and Bunny, a neon champagne morph, soon had homes with us.
By now I had made many herpetologists (herper) friends who bred Colubrids, such as corn snakes, rat snakes, and king snakes. I enjoyed learning all I could about corn snakes. They had quickly become my very favorite of the snake breeds. Soon I realized I wanted to breed and educate others about these wonderful creatures, as well as local snakes indigenous to Arizona.
I went to work to create my corn snake breeding business and the first thing it needed was a name! Growing up back east, I always loved exploring the creeks surrounding our homes in the woods of North Carolina and Georgia. With those memories in mind and now being a desert dweller, the name Desert Creek Corn Snakes was formed. Working with and breeding corn snakes had become my passion. I commissioned a friend to create my logo, and I was on my way!
Many of my corn snakes have come from across the U.S. and other countries, such as Colorado, Texas, California, Virginia, and even Norway! In September we’ll have new arrivals from Slovakia, and I’ll be proud to be able to offer mimosa morph corn snakes in the future! One of just a few breeders in the U.S. to have them!
One of my greatest joys is now being able to offer educational experiences about snakes to others. I have gone to schools, preschools, cub scouts, boy scouts, youth groups, and birthday parties to share my corn snakes. I discuss why it’s ok to like or not like snakes depending on your preference and comfort level. I help kids understand that everyone has fears and we respect people when they say no, such as to petting a snake. We discuss local wildlife and teach that we do not approach or touch any snake we find outdoors. If you find a rattlesnake in your yard, call the fire department or The Arizona Herpetological Society to safely relocate them. In schools, my presentation includes their habitats, and where these snakes are native to the U.S. At the end of each presentation, I bring out several corn snakes from hatchlings (brand new babies), and yearlings, to adults for the groups to pet. As of this writing, I have always had a student or child brave their fear to pet one of my corn snakes!