Milk Snake Care

Milk Snake Care

Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum)

Popularity: Make good pets

Origin: The Americas

Native habitat: Varies, but is normally forests, prairies or rocky slopes.

Size: 1.5-6 feet

Lifespan: 15 years

Appearance: Milk Snakes have smooth and glossy scales. Typical coloring is alternating bands of red-black-yellow or white-black-red; however, red blotches instead of bands are seen in some populations. Because of their coloring, they are often confused with coral snakes, which, unlike Milk Snakes, are deadly. The Eastern Milk Snake does not resemble a coral snake, but it can resemble a rattlesnake and a copperhead.

Diet: Slugs, insects, crickets, earthworms, lizards, small mammals, birds, eggs, frogs, fish, and other snakes

Activities: Mostly nocturnal; primarily terrestrial. Exception: the scarlet kingsnake. It takes shelter under the bark of standing dead trees and in dead leaves.

Defense Mechanisms: The fact that they resemble deadly Coral snakes scares away possible attackers.

Misc characteristics: Is in the King Snake family. Got its name from the mistaken belief that it sucks the milk from a cow’s udders. Should be housed alone because they will eat other snakes. Milk Snakes are not very active in captivity, but they can squeeze into tiny gaps, making them likely to escape.

BASIC CARE

Housing

A 30-gallon aquarium tank makes good housing for most Milk Snake subspecies: Bigger kinds require a larger tank. Housing should be wide enough to equal one-third the length of snake, and long enough to equal at least two-thirds of its length. The tank needs a secure, tight-fitting lid that provides good airflow.

Furnishings and Substrate

Make sure there are at least two hides in the tank. These can be hide boxes or logs — one in a warm spot, the other in a cool area. Good substrate is chips, cypress mulch, paper and indoor/outdoor carpeting. Substrates that allow burrowing are best.

Temperature

The temperature in the tank should range from the mid 70s F. at one end to 85-87 degrees at the other end. Temperatures can be 5 degrees lower at night. You can maintain them by using a heat pad under one-third of the tank. Use a thermometer to get accurate temperature readings.

Lighting

Provide the snake with 10-12 hours of daily supplemental UVB light by using a fluorescent bulb designed for snake enclosures. Constant overhead light stresses a Milk Snake. Additionally, the snake needs a day/night cycle for its health. Most households provide this, but if not, use a timer to turn lights on and off every 12 hours.

Feeding

A Milk Snake’s diet varies a little depending on the subspecies, but typically, hatchlings will eat 1-3 pre-killed pinkie feeder mice per week. Feed snakes under three years old at least one feeder mouse per week. Feed adults mice or newly weaned feeder rats at least once per week: They will usually eat twice. The tank should be fairly dry, but there must always be a large, deep bowl of fresh chlorine-free water big enough for the snake to submerge itself.

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