Milk Snakes As Pets – The Wiki Info

What Are Milk Snakes, And Why Would You Want One? 

The best type of snake that a snake pet owner would want to have is a Milk Snake. They are part of the Kingsnake family.

These are snakes that stand out with the help of their smaller size, bright colors, and eye-catching patterns. The scientific name for these beautiful creatures is Lampropeltis Triangulum.

The term “Lampros” comes from Greek with it being the translation for bright, shiny, and brilliant.

In Latin the word “Peltis” means shields. Therefore, the scientific name describes these snakes brilliantly since it looks as if they have small, bright shields surrounding their bodies. 

But what exactly are Milk Snakes and why would they be a catch as a pet? We will go into that by looking more in-depth of these scaly friends.

California Milk Snake
California Milk Snake

What Breeds/Morphs Are There

What Breeds/Morphs Are There
What Breeds/Morphs Are There

There are many types of breeds or morphs of milk snakes. One can distinguish them due to their patterns and colors. They are usually small creatures that do not have a rattle.

Plus, their teeth are quite small.

milk snake teeth are quite small
milk snake teeth are quite small

While there is a long list of different types of milk snakes we have picked two of the most popular and well-known ones. 

Eastern Milk Snake 

One of the most commonly seen milk snakes is the Eastern Milk Snake. This type of milk snake is often confused with the Copperhead snake.

However, the Eastern Milk Snake has different blotches shapes to the former.

Eastern Milk Snake
Eastern Milk Snake – Source: Flickr.com

Eastern Milk Snakes have blotches that are reddish-brown with black frames around each one.

The rest of their bodies are either gray or tan while their stomachs have a checker-board pattern look to them. Plus, they can grow up to four feet/ 1. 2 meters long. 

The Eastern Milk Snake resides in the Northeastern part of the United States. This range could go from Maine to Minnesota and Iowa, going as south as the northern part of Georgia. 

Honduran Milk Snake

Honduran Milk Snake

The Honduran Milk Snake is a favorite among snake lovers. This can be due to their bright colors.

They are known as being tri-color morphs and tangerine morphs. Tri-color morphs have colored bands that go around their whole body while tangerine morphs have bands that go down the sides.

In the case of Honduran Milk Snakes, they have bands that go around their bodies which are usually bright reddish or orange and many have black bands. In between these bands are narrow bands that are either white or yellow.

Hence, the tri-color name of the type of morph that they are since many of this breed has three colors on them. 

They live in the Southwestern of the United States, and some can live in Honduras. They can also be found in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Plus, they can grow up to about four feet/ 1. 2 meters, making them the same length as the Eastern Milk Snake. 

Milk Snakes Price Range

Milk Snakes Price Range
Milk Snakes Price Range

The price range of a Milk Snake usually depends on where you buy them and if they are on sale or not.

The type of Milk Snake that they are is also a factor. But you would be looking at about 55 US Dollars to about 80 US Dollars

Locations Of Milk Snakes In Wild

There are many locations that Milk Snakes can be found in. This is because they can live in different types of habitats depending on their type of breed.

They can be found throughout the United States except for on the West Coast. In North America, they live as north as Quebec and Ontario reaching down to South America usually found in areas of Venezuela. They also live in Mexico and the rest of Central America. 

The habitats that they can frequent are forest areas as well as rocky terrains.

They enjoy spending their time under rocks or hiding in dark areas of a farm barn.

Another reason why Milk Snakes would move into a farm barn is to hunt the rodents that tend to live there. This would be a nice way to handle a rat problem if a farmer as one. However, Milk Snakes do like to move when the season changes.

During the winter they opt to move to areas that are drier and higher most likely rocky terrains. They move to these types of areas to hibernate. In the summer months, they would prefer areas that have more moisture to them.  

Food

milk snakes eat rodents fit with their sizes
milk snakes eat rodents fit with their sizes

Milk Snakes are carnivores that like to munch on a variety of foods. Their favorites seem to be rodents such as mice.

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However, in the wild, they can eat insects such as slugs, earthworms, and crickets.

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The adults can aim for bigger creatures such as rodents (like mice or rats), birds (including the eggs), invertebrates, amphibians, lizards, and even other types of snakes or reptiles. The adults may even devour coral snakes as well as snake eggs.  

They can wrap their bodies around their prey and straggle them until they die from the lack of oxygen. Once the prey is dead, the snake gulps down the prey’s entire body. 

Hatchlings Born in Captivity

However, when it comes to Milk Snakes that are in captivity as pets their diet is slightly different from that of the wild ones.

young milk snake
young milk snake

Hatchlings (babies) can eat one to two-day-old pink mice. They can be fed one or two pink mice every two or seven days.

The latter will depend on how quickly they grow and it would be best to speak to a specialist about how often you should feed them.

However, they can grow quickly if they are feed small prey at regular intervals instead of one huge one once a week.

The smaller prey is easier for them to shallow allowing them to get more of the nutrients they need to grow big and strong. But, make sure that the mice are already dead as well as defrosted. 

Sub-Adult Milk Snakes In Captivity

When the Milk Snake grows bigger and reaches sub-adult (like teenage for humans) then you can start to introduce bigger mice as their diets.

A good measure for the size of the meal should be by looking at the size of your snake’s thickest part of their body.

Finding a meal that size would do the trick. You can feed them about once or more times weekly depending on how hungry they get. 

However, during the summer and spring, they may be hungrier and during the fall/ autumn their appetite may die down.

During the winter they are still active but many of them may not eat. This would make sense since they would be hibernating in the wild during the cold season.  

Adult Milk Snakes In Captivity

When they are fully grown adults (in about three years) then you could reduce the number of times you feed them. At this stage, you can feed them either weaken pink mice or adult ones.

You can start by feeding them once a week. If you notice that they are not as round as they should be i.e their bones and ribs are visible you should increase the rate of feeding to twice a week.

Adult Milk Snakes that are four feet/ 1. 2 meters long usually eat about two adult mice per week. 

When They Get Sick

When moving a snake into captivity they must adjust to their new surroundings. This may take longer for some than for others.

If you notice that your snake gets sick then you should wait for it to defecates and put that into a plastic bag that you can take to your vet along with your snake. They will use it to test for worms as well as give you advice and medicine to help your pet get well. 

Poisonous or Not

While Milk Snakes can often be confused for other types of snakes such as the coral snakes or copperheads.

However, Milk Snakes are not poisonous.

They use Batesian mimicry which is a type of defensive strategy to confuse their predators into thinking that they are poisonous by looking the part of copperheads or coral snakes.

Milk Snakes can also pretend to be rattlesnakes by rattling their tails as a way to chase off their predators.


However, since they opt to use Batesian mimicry to scare off predators this can also make humans think that they are indeed poisonous even though they are not.

The way to tell a Milk Snake from their lookalikes (coral snake and copperhead) is by their blotches.

Milk Snake’s blotches are thick and round while copperheads are hourglass-shaped.

Concerning coral snakes, they usually have red and yellow bands next to each other while Milk Snakes have black next to their red bands. 

Accessories

The items that you would need to keep a Milk Snake as a pet is an enclosure that can mimic their natural environment.

However, Milk Snakes are the type that likes to escape their surroundings. This is why it is important to make sure that there are no gaps in the enclosure and that the top is tightly closed a strong latch.

They can fit into the smallest of gaps so make sure that you get a high-quality enclosure that is escape-proof. Once they get out they can be quite difficult to find.  

The Temperatures In The Enclosure 

Other types of accessories you may want to invest in are a few thermometers so that you can measure the temperatures inside the enclosure.

Bjerg Instruments 12" Steel Enclosure Decorative Indoor/Outdoor Patio Wall Thermometer (Bronze)
Large 12 inch diameter indoor or outdoor analog thermometer; Easy to read 6 inch diameter dial face and gauge.

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It would be a good idea to make the enclosure to accommodate different temperatures. A cool end and a hot end. This can be done by adding heating pads to the bottom of the enclosure on one end of it. You should aim that the temperatures fit a gradient of  76 to 86 Fahrenheit (24. 4 to 30 Degrees Celsius).  

Snakes are cold-blooded, so they like to move around from one type of temperature to another so giving them the option could make the enclosure feel more like home.

Plus, creating a space that has spots that they can bask in or areas that they can hide in would also be fun for them.

But make sure that they can have fun on both ends of the enclosure. The best way to see what they would like it to watch how they behave and add new features as you see fit. Some snakes like rocky areas while others prefer climbing trees so let your snake tell you. 

The Lights 

The type of light that you use in your enclosure can also be very important.

Many types of snakes can be nocturnal meaning that they cannot sleep with a source of bright light. This is why incandescent white light and the likes would not work as a source of heat.

They have to be turned off at night making the temperature of the enclosure drop a lot.

Therefore, the best option you may go for is to have light for the daytime and a different one for night.

The latter can be a CHE (ceramic heating element) or a bulb especially designed for nocturnal snakes.

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A CHE is a non-light heat source. Using this in connection with heating pads can help you not to overheat your snake. 

Other Accessories

Other items that you may want to get for your smooth scaly friend is Nolvasan (chlorhexidine diacetate). This is used to clean the house of your snake as well as to disinfect water bowls, litter boxes, and other items in the enclosure such as a sink or tub.

It can also disinfect the whole enclosure to keep it clean. Betadine (povidone/iodine) is something that you can use if your snake ends up with wounds or scratches on them. 

And, you would want to set aside a storage area for their food as well as their water and feeding bowls. Sponges, a soaking tub should also be set aside and make sure that these are only used for your snake. 

In Conclusion 

Milk Snakes would make charming pets due to their size, colors, and lack of poisonous. However, they will need care and time to love their new home. 

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Last update on 2020-07-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last update on 2020-07-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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