Baby milk snake feeding

How to Care for Milk Snakes

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

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Introduction to Milk Snakes


Milk snakes (Lampropeltis sp.) are among the most common snakes kept in captivity as pets. They come in 24 subspecies and are found from the US down to South America. They are relatives of the king snake, and range in size from 2 feet in length to 6 feet.  The colorful Honduran milk snake reaches the 6 foot status.


The milk snake's temperament and coloration make this species such a popular pet. With a few exceptions, nearly all milk snakes sport the red, yellow (sometimes white) and black bands that contribute to a milk snake‘s striking appearance. These bands are called “triads”. Variations in the configuration and arrangement of these triads of coloration helps identify the different milk snake subspecies.

Milk Snakes look like Coral Snakes

Milk snakes are often found in the same habitat as the deadly coral snake. Over eons of evolution, milk snakes have taken advantage of the coral snake’s coloration. The coral snake (Micruroides spp.), is the second most venomous snake on the planet. Coral snakes have small mouths that are unable to deliver much of a punch, and they have to chew on a predator, or a person who picks them up, to really deliver much venom. Still, the venom is pretty deadly.

Knowing this, in an evolutionary sense, harmless milk snakes have taken advantage of the venomous snake’s distinctive coloration. Intended as a warning sign, much like a rattlesnake’s rattle, this distinctive coloration of coral snakes signals ‘back off’.

This is called biomimetic.  And its purpose is for the non-venomous milk snake to pose as the more deadly coral snake, which signals to potential predators that they might be poisonous (which they aren't). 

Different Appearance between Coral Snake and Milk Snake

And it can be hard to distinguish the difference, even for humans, hence the need for pneumonic device such as "Red next to yellow is a deadly fellow, and red next to black is a friend of Jack.”

Origination of the name Milk snake

These harmless snakes have their odd name because sometime back in the dim recesses of human imagination, their frequent presence in barns and around dairy animals made some silly bugger think they were deriving their nourishment by sucking milk from the teats of the farm animals. Sheeesh.

Great Snake for Beginners

These snakes are good for beginners as they are relatively docile and respond quickly to gentle and consistent handling. Although they should not be handled right after eating (wait 48 hours) most other times will suit them. Periods of shedding and brumation (discussed below) should also hands-off times, however. Hatchlings and juveniles are much more hyperactive and nervous than adults, so infrequent handling is recommended. Once a trusting bond has been established, these snakes enjoy physical contact with owners and will crawl playfully up and down the keeper’s arms and body. Once per week for no more than one hour seems to be the sweet spot for maintaining trust and docility. More is not better, as this can stress the snake and lower it’s immune system. To see your pet live up to its fullest life span of 12 years, good husbandry and moderate handling are the keys.

Tank Size

These snakes need room to move, but not too much, as this can make them feel insecure. A juvenile milk snake will do well in a 10 gallon tank for a couple of years. At 3 years old, your snake will have more than doubled in length and will be sexually mature. At this point, a 20-30 gallon tank is advised for smaller species, and a much larger custom tank will be needed for snakes the size of Hondurans.

Despite their tendency to climb, most keepers have had the best success with a horizontally oriented tank, rather than a vertical arrangement.

Clamp the Top Down

The basic elements of the tank should include a suitable substrate, a hide, a warm and a cool side, a water dish/shallow pool and something for the snake to climb and bask on. These guys are escape artists, and if your milk snake can reach the top and the screen is not well secured, he/she can and will make a break for it. In winter, this will undoubtedly end in tragedy, as they will manage to find a place either too hot or too cold for their bodies to sustain a living temperature, unless you find them quickly. If your new tank/terrarium/vivarium comes with a snugly fitting screened top, great, but not sufficient if your pet is more than 30 inches long. Add clamps to two sides, you will thank yourself later.


These snakes are burrowers, and so will need deep bedding. Most beginners’ tanks will have a glass bottom. Some advanced models may have a false bottom with some sort of screening to allow feces and urine to sift down. Sort of a fancy cat box type of setup. If you begin with a simpler affair, you will be placing an absorbent material onto paper towel liners that are placed firmly flat against the glass bottom.

A thick layer of aspen shavings is favored by most snake keepers, although many do like cypress shavings just as well. Aromatic woods such as pine and cedar should be avoided as they can cause lung and eye irritation. Three to four inches of covering with these materials provides a light and sanitary bedding that the snake will often disappear under as an alternative to its hide. That’s quite alright, but it is advisable to provide an insulating layer such as felt or reptile carpet under the glass and on top of any heating mats used to be certain the snake will not fall asleep on top of a too hot mat and burn itself. Snakes can and will choose to rest in an area that ends up being too hot for their safety. Think in terms of the old adage about a ‘boiled frog’. As the temperature increases, they don’t always feel it in time to move to a cooler spot. It is up to the keeper to carefully test and retest all surfaces several times weekly to keep your snake safe.


The overall temperature of the tank should not exceed 86 degrees F on the warm side, and hover at 76 degrees F on the cool side. For temperature measurement, a digital laser thermometer is a worthy investment. For less than $20, a new keeper can take readings from all over the habitat with the push of a button. Readings should therefore be taken at the surface of the bottom of the warm side, the cool side and any basking areas. Keepers need to remember that the ambient temperature of the room can affect the vivarium, so frequent readings are strongly recommended. A thermostatically controlled under tank heating pad or heating tape will be the most trouble-free and goof-proof.

If a UVB heat lamp instead of under tank heating is in use, it must be turned off for 12 hours per day to maintain a natural diurnal cycle for this diurnal species. That said, when the light is off, the temperature at night should not drop too low. This species does not have to have additional UVB light, but many keepers feel that it gives the animal’s immune system an added boost. Others like the convenience of thermostatically regulated under tank heating.

A cold environment will encourage brumation. Brumation is more or less the equivalent to hibernation in mammals. It is a reaction to insufficient heat necessary for normal activities. Brumation can be deliberate, and is useful if you are attempting to breed your milk snakes, or it can be accidental due to heater malfunction or poor maintenance of temperature regime. Brumation is not strictly necessary for health and may cause your pet to be unnecessarily lethargic, with a greater than normal tendency to hide and refuse food. This is yet another reason why temperature monitoring regularly is really quite important. To avoid brumation, nighttime temperatures in the habitat should not be allowed to drop below 65 degrees F.

Light and Humidity

These snakes generally do not need extraordinary levels of humidifying. Misting once a week is usually enough except during shedding. During shedding, either provide a shedding box filled with dampened sphagnum moss or mist the vivarium twice per day.


A hide made of something that can be easily sanitized is essential. Plastic may look tacky, but may be more practical, depending on your lifestyle. I love the look of cork wood, but it is really problematic to clean. Dish washer safe hides and bowls are the easiest by far. If you do decide on cork wood as an attractive and snake friendly hide, I would replace it every year. Otherwise, you can try what some reptile keepers do and bake the wood at 250 degrees F for 2 hours.

Habitat Summary

So, to summarize, the minimal basic set-up should include (inside):

  • an aspen substrate about 3-4 inches deep
  • a hide
  • water bowl.

This is minimalistic, and although many keepers would provide only these items, we feel that such a sparse set-up is inadequate for the animal’s happiness. We recommend including

  • a second hide
  • a plant
  • a couple of rocks as environmental enrichment.

Of course, if you are using a bioactive set-up to minimize cleaning, the mandatory substrate and plants should be sufficient that are an essential part of that system will be plenty, in addition to that water bowl and hide.

Diet and Feeding

Feeding Schedule Depends on Milk Snake Age

How often you feed your snake depends on how old it is. Baby snakes don’t even start to think about food until they are two to four weeks old. Once they do, they generally need to eat about 2-3 times per week. More frequent feedings will encourage them to grow faster, if that is what you wish. As your snake gets older, he/she will not need to be fed quite as often. In fact, one of the more convenient things about adult milk snakes is that they only need to eat about every 7 days. Food can be provided right within the habitat or in a separate enclosure.

Should I use a Separate Feeding Enclosure?

The use of a separate feeding enclosure is a subject of debate among fanciers. Some feel that while a separate feeding enclosure may not be strictly necessary, it can sometimes be helpful. One argument in favor is that using a different habitat for feeding times can help to keep the main enclosure cleaner and more sanitary.

A separate feeding enclosure may also be necessary if you are housing more than one snake in a habitat (not recommended) or if you use a substrate that can be ingested. Others feel it is unwise to move the snake to a strange environment, expect it to perform a natural behavior immediately, and then expect it not to throw up when it is handled for the purpose of placing it back in its main home. I have always fed in the vivarium.

What will you be feeding your milk snake?

Depends on how old he/she is. A very young snake can only manage pinkies for quite a few months. After that they will graduate to fuzzies, and then hoppers. Well for the love of Mike, what do all of those terms mean? The terms mentioned above refer to feeder mice, rats have their own designations.


Pinky: A pinky is a newborn mouse. Ranging from one to three grams in weight, depending on where you purchase them. They have no fur and are high in protein.

Fuzzy: A fuzzy is a slightly older baby mouse, with the beginnings of fur. They are slightly bigger in size and weigh around 3-5g.

Hopper: The next age stage. These are around 5-9g in weight and are fully formed, but not fully grown. They are middle school phase of mouse development.


The rat equivalent of a pinky would be a ‘rat pup’. These are slightly bigger in size, around 5g.

The rat equivalent of a fuzzy is called a ‘fluff’. And around 10-25g in weight, so quite a substantial difference.

The rat equivalent of a hopper would be ‘weaner’ rat, at around 25-50g.

The size of the prey you choose will depend on whether or not the snake can both swallow and digest it. When in doubt, consider the width of the diner. That is, prey should be no wider than the widest part of the snake's body. Choosing prey that is too large, if it is actually swallowed, can result in regurgitation at the very least (if you’re lucky), with injuries, seizures, partial paralysis, gut impactions, and death being unpleasant possibilities as well. After ingestion, the prey item should make a noticeable bump in the snake’s torso. Just a small one, not one that looks like a softball. That is just asking for trouble.

Should you feed only rodents?

Not necessarily. Juveniles may enjoy crickets now and then, while adults can be offered day old frozen and thawed chicks occasionally. Does the prey have to be alive? Some keepers believe that the live prey offers the ability for the snake to perform natural behaviors. Others claim that this is nonsense and that a rich environment and positive interaction with a human handler should provide sufficient stimulation. The advantages of pre-killed, frozen dinners over live chow are:

Live prey can be too active for young snakes.

Sometimes dinner bites back. Attacks by live prey can permanently disfigure your snake. Injuries caused by live prey can include lacerations to the snake's mouth area and eyes. Cutting through his/her tongue sheath is not uncommon.

Attacks by live prey can traumatize your snake, and it can be very difficult to get that snake to feed on that prey item again.

Pre-killed offerings can last in the freezer for up to six months. Remember to thaw it completely in the refrigerator and warm it to slightly above room temperature before feeding it to your snake. Do not use a microwave for this, but rather a warm bath.

If you feel that you must feed live prey, be sure to provide food for the prey animal if it is not consumed immediately. Watch it closely for any signs that it may be biting or gnawing on the snake. If this happens, remove it immediately and take your snake to the veterinarian.

Tricks to tempt your milk snake into eating pre-killed meals:

Use tongs or hemostats to dangle the prey and "walk" it around the cage to make it appear alive and entice the snake to strike at it.

Sense of smell is very keen in most snakes. Make sure the prey is warmer than room temperature; it will smell more appetizing to your snake that way. You can also pith (pierce) the braincase of the prey with a pin or nail to release even more enticing odors (yum).

Cleaning and Sanitation

Cleaning the habitat is fairly easy and should be done once a month for large snakes and once every two months for smaller snakes in a generously sized habitat. Spot cleaning should be done daily, and examination of the habitat for ‘gifts’ left for you after feeding should be performed twice daily for 48 hours after a meal has been consumed. This will lengthen times between mega-cleanings and keep your snake’s habitat and your snake smelling sweet.

Monthly Cleaning

For the monthly/bi-monthly cleaning, remove and dispose of all bedding. Place dishwasher safe furniture on the top rack of your dishwasher an wash on pots and pans setting. The sides of the now empty terrarium/vivarium may now be spritzed with a bleach solution and allowed to dry.

Do not use bleach stronger than a 10% solution and do not place your snake back inside without wiping down all damp areas after soaking for ½ hour. If the terrarium is glass, and you live in an area with hard water, you can create a clear viewing experience at this monthly cleaning time if you spray any glass sides with vinegar.

Let it do its thing on any calcium build-up for 30 minutes and then wipe down. Wait another ½ hour, replace sanitized furniture on top of new, clean bedding and only then place your snake back in. Of course, if you have bioactive habitat, you need only do this once per year at most as long as you spot clean diligently.

Common Illnesses and Ailments

Proper feeding and sanitation can help to prevent most common illnesses in milk snakes. For example, blister disease is associated with damp, filthy environments and effects the bottom most scales, the scutes, that would be in the most constant contact with any filth. The scutes develop a reddish appearance and if untreated they become swollen and infected by bacteria and fungi. The habitat must receive a comprehensive cleaning immediately and the snake must see a vet, who will probably administer an injectable antibiotic, followed by a course of topical treatments administered twice daily (by the owner).

Other conditions such as mouth rot, respiratory infections, and fungal infections are often a function of a dirty environment. A pus lined mouth, or bubbling nostrils indicate that mouth rot is developing and the animal should see the vet ASAP. Antibiotics and mouth rinsing twice a day may be advised for mouth rot, so prevention is really well worth the time and effort.

If you have recently acquired your snake from a pet store or a breeder that you are not familiar with, or a seller who has shipped your snake to you, and you see lots of white, red, or black dots moving around on your snake, it is time to be concerned. Reptile mites are as common as mites on mammals, but can actually be a lot more harmful. Mites come out at night to feed on the blood of snakes and can cause serious stress, and in some cases death. The first line of defense is to give your milk snake a quick bath in olive oil, and then carefully rub it down with a paper towel to remove excess oil. If this doesn’t solve the problem, you can try a commercial miticide if the animal is an adult. The habitat will need to be stripped, disinfected and treated with the miticide as well. If the snake is a hatchling, or young juvenile then a trip to the vet for a safe prescription miticide is the safest option.

Prevention is the best medicine for these and other conditions. Observe your snake daily, know it’s appearance and behavior like the back of your hand and you will be able to catch any husbandry or sanitation issues quickly. This is better for you, your pet, and your wallet than the alternative.

Happy Herping!

Care Sheet For Milk Snakes – Reptiles Lounge

Milk Snakes include some of the most beautiful subspecies of any genus and they are easy to keep in captivity which explains why they are incredibly popular with reptile hobbyists. The genus of Milk Snakes contains an incredible variety snakes that have a large range of sizes and habitats. Milk Snakes come from grasslands, farmlands, pine and deciduous forests and generally reach adult sizes all the way from 2 to 5 feet. For these reasons, it is difficult to provide a single care sheet for all species and subspecies of Milk Snakes, but below is a basic outline of how to keep your Milk Snake happy and healthy.
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Baby and juvenile Milk Snakes can be set up in an enclosure as small as a 10 gallon (20" x 10" x 12"H) but adults should be housed in a larger enclosure of 20 to 70 gallons (36" x 18" x 25"H) depending on their full adult size to allow for additional room and a better design. For example, a subspecies that becomes a 4 foot adult should be housed in an enclosure at least 40 gallons in size. There is no such thing as a cage too big for a Milk Snake so larger is always much better than smaller. Since like most snakes, Milk Snakes are escape artists, a secure screen top is absolutely critical to keep your snake from escaping the enclosure.


You should NEVER house more than one Milk Snake together as Milk Snakes sometimes are cannibalistic.
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Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding is generally the best substrate for Milk Snakes. Reptile keepers also use Zoo Med Repti Bark, Zoo Med Forest Floor Cypress Bedding or Zoo Med Eco Earth. Baby Milk Snakes can also be kept on paper towels or similar product until they become juveniles. Whichever you decide to use, stick to well-known products designed for use with reptiles and be careful of some commercial aspen brands as they may contain high amounts of dust or other contaminants that that can be harmful to your pet.
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As with all reptiles, Milk Snakes need a thermal gradient consisting of a warm side (86° F) and a cool side (78° F). The best way to heat your Milk Snake’s enclosure is with a combination of heat mat and ceramic heat emitter. We recommend an under tank heat mat and Infrared Ceramic Heat Emitter. The heat mat and ceramic heat emitter should be on one side while the other side should not have any heat source. We recommend controlling the ceramic emitter with a thermostat and monitoring the temperatures with a thermometer.
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Milk Snakes, like all snakes do not require a light or UV bulb. If you choose to add a basking bulb to add more light to your cage make sure that you maintain proper heat levels but not go over 88 deg. F as this could be detrimental to your snake's health.
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It is essential to the well-being of your Milk Snakes to have hiding places in their enclosure. The shelter can be anything from a hide box to a decorative reptile shelter, hiding hut or cave. It is always a good idea to have one shelter on the warm side and one on the cool side. If you choose to make a hiding place yourself, please make sure it is sturdy enough that there is no potential for collapsing and crushing your snake.
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Like all reptiles and amphibians, Milk Snakes shed their entire skin all at once. Babies shed more often than adults because as babies they outgrow their skin faster. You'll note shedding time when your snake's eyes turn a shade of blue and become cloudy.


Snakes normally shed their skin easily but sometimes they have issues if they do not have the proper humidity while shedding. For this reason, it is important to maintain a decent amount of humidity in the cage by misting a couple times a day. This is especially true around shedding time. Providing a moist shelter is another way to ensure necessary humidity during shedding. Use moistened Sphagnum Moss or Zoo Med Forest Floor Cypress inside your snake’s hide.

You need to check your snake after it has shed to make sure it was able to peel all the skin off, especially around the eyes. If unshed skin is not removed promptly serious health issues can form. If your Milk Snake has retained skin after shedding you can place the snake in a plastic container lined with warm, wet paper towels with the container lid on or soak the snake in warm water. Let the snake stay in the container or warm water for approximately 30 minutes. The high humidity in the container or using the soaking method should loosen the skin enough to allow you to remove it easily with a pair of tweezers. If the skin has not loosened enough, reheat the paper towels with warm water and provide another 30 minute session. NEVER use hot water as this can burn your snake.
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It is essential that you provide your Milk Snake with a large water bowl. The bowl should be large enough that the Milk Snake can soak its entire body in but not so big that it might have a difficult time getting in or out of the bowl. Place the water dish on the cool side of the cage so that it does not evaporate quickly.
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Milk Snakes eat mice and rats so the size of the prey is dependent upon the girth of the snake. You should not feed your Milk Snake anything bigger than the thickest part of its body. The prey item should leave a readily noticeable lump in the snake. This is fairly standard for all species of snakes. Hatchling snakes are typically fed every 5 days while adults are typically fed every 10 days. However, it should be noted that some hobbyists feed adult snakes once a week.


Is feeding live or pre-killed better? Opinions vary on this subject but we are emphatic that thawed frozen rodents are a much better option. First, feeding thawed rodents is easier and second it's substantially less expensive because you can purchase rats or mice in bulk and then store them in the freezer. More importantly, it is significantly safer for the snake. The bottom line is a thawed prey mouse or rat will never bite or chew on your snake in defense. Nasty rodent bites have been inflicted on snakes when fed live rodents. We suggest you play it smart and go with feeding thawed prey items.



It is important to feed high quality rodents to your snake and it is always a good idea to coat the rodent with a bit of vitamin and calcium powders before feeding them. We carry a full line of quality reptile vitamins and calcium.
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Cage Maintenance

Milk Snakes require minimal maintenance as they usually excrete small amounts of semi-solid fluid. Aspen and similar substrates allow for quick cleaning of feces and using one of our scoopers you can perform this task when defecation occurs. The bedding should be completely thrown out and the entire cage (including all accessories) should be washed at least once every four to five months with a mild detergent. If using paper towels, change all paper towels at least once a week.
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Hibernation while being natural for Milk Snakes in the wild is not necessary for pet Milk Snakes. We believe you should heat your Milk Snakes throughout the winter so that they continue to eat, drink and be active. A general reduction in feeding behavior is normal during winter months due to temperature fluctuations in your house. As long as they keep fairly consistent weight it is generally not an issue and normal feeding typically resume in the spring.


Milk snake: description, care, reproduction, photos, types | AQUARIUM FISHES

Nevada 1976 Milk snake: description, care, reproduction, photos, types 0 Comment

One of the most beautiful representatives of the snake world is the milk snake. It is able to stand out among shrubs, stones, and grass, due to the presence of shades of black, red and white in its color. Let's talk today about how to keep a milk snake at home, how to feed this unusual pet, and how best to take care of it.

Species description

Most of the fauna with this color is dangerous. The milk snake has great resemblances to the coral asp, a poisonous specimen of the snake world. But apart from the color, these snakes have nothing more in common, since the "milkmen" do not pose any threat, therefore, you can pick them up without fear for your life.

This species originated from Central and North America, so the snakes prefer mountainous terrain and can be found at altitudes up to 3500 meters. Given these facts, milk snakes are less susceptible to cold than their relatives king snakes. To date, there are about 25 types of "milkmen": Honduran, ringed, Ruthven, Campbell, Sinoloy and others.

Any of the above representatives will be a worthy decoration for your home. All species have a difference in size, as well as color, so the owners of exotic animals prefer different representatives of the milk snake. However, the “milk” snake acquired its name not by chance. In ancient times, Americans grazed cows, and when one day the animals lost their milk, they blamed the snakes for this, because due to their bright appearance and frequent meetings with people, “milkmen” became the best candidates for the role of the culprit of this trouble. People thought that snakes drink milk from cows. Consequently, this is how they began to be called "dairy".

The most prominent representatives of the king snake is the Sinaloi milk snake. Her body is decorated with large coral rings, and slightly smaller white and black colors. Such snakes are very memorable because of their appearance, since not all poisonous snakes can boast of such colors. But the question remains about the need for such flowers if their carrier does not have poison at all. "Mimicry" - this is how advanced scientists called this phenomenon, this definition is called the ability to disguise themselves as poisonous relatives for self-defense. That is why the royal milk snake resembles its closest relative, the coral snake, which lives with it at the same latitudes.

Why are milk snakes unusual?

At the first glance at these snakes, the thought immediately comes to mind, why are they "dairy", because their colors are very bright? The snake has a bright scarlet color, and the body is surrounded by yellow and black rings.

The thing is that in places where milk snakes live, milk may disappear from cattle for some reason. American farmers believe that someone is sucking this milk. And the culprit was quickly found - a brightly colored snake often found in pastures. This is where its name came from.

Interestingly, many city dwellers also think that snakes love milk and lap it up from a saucer. If you do not give the snake water, he will indeed drink milk, but this will only cause him an intestinal upset.

When meeting with these snakes, the second question also arises, since they have such a bright color, then they are poisonous? No, this is a manifestation of mimicry, milk snakes, due to their coloration, imitate poisonous coral snakes.

Milk snake subspecies

The milk snake L.t.triangulum is a northern subspecies; unlike its congeners, it has not a striped color, but a spotted one. Its color is similar to that of the maize snake. Her back is gray or light brown, and along it runs a chain of their red or brown spots with a black edging.

No less interesting is the subspecies L.t.gaigeae from Panama and Costa Rica. In young animals, the color is classic - red-striped, but six months later and after 7 molts, it becomes velvety black with greenish tints.

The most elegant among milk snakes are representatives of the subspecies L.t.cambelli with a contrasting black-red-white color and representatives of the subspecies L.t.sinaloae with wide scarlet peppered rings.

Honduran milk snakes L. t. hondurensis are less colorful than the Mexican ones, but they are larger in size. Babies emerge from the eggs, reaching a length of 32 centimeters, so they can immediately eat pubescent mice.

These subspecies of milk snakes are the most common in terrariums. They are best suited for amateurs.


The reptile is nocturnal. During the day, it rests in an underground shelter or under a pile of stones, and at dusk it crawls out in search of food. From autumn to spring, activity can occur during daylight hours among animals kept in a terrarium.

Campbell's king snake lives alone and avoids its fellows outside the breeding season.

Large individuals are prone to cannibalism and eat smaller relatives. They are usually non-aggressive towards humans. With careful and friendly handling, reptiles are quickly tamed and become tame. The snake swims well and likes to stay in the water for a long time if there is a small reservoir near its dwelling.

Under natural conditions, it hibernates from mid-November to the second half of February, when the ambient temperature drops to 10°C. Already in October, she stops feeding, limiting herself to drinking water. Hibernation begins after the stomach is completely empty. The diet consists of rodents, hatchlings, frogs, lizards and small snakes.

Conditions of detention

Keeping a Sinaloy milk snake in captivity is not a very difficult task. Compliance with a small list of requirements is not difficult. Therefore, this species is recommended for keeping beginners. However, there is a “but” here too: the Sinaloi milk snake is able to get out of the terrarium if there is a hole where its head can fit. If there is such a hole in the terrarium, then she will definitely run away. This snake loves to explore space very much, and therefore, after escaping, it will be very difficult to find it, as it can crawl away quite quickly. The choice of terrarium must be approached with special care.

In addition, Sinaloi milk snakes must be kept alone.

Terrarium: Recommended terrarium for terrestrial species, i.e. horizontal type. The size of the terrarium should depend on the size of the lighting fixtures that will be placed in it, because. The luminaire must be at least 40 cm above the floor. Thus, the size of the terrarium without taking into account the lamp should be at least 50x40x40 cm for one individual.

Substrate: As the main substrate, you can use river pebbles, coarse sand, coconut chips, or paper. The main thing is that the substrate is always dry, but not dusty. Sphagnum moss must be placed at the warming point so that the snake can burrow into it. In addition, sphagnum will help maintain the right level of humidity for the reptile.

Lighting: During reptile activity seasons, daylight hours should be 12 hours. Compliance with the daily rhythm is very important for the snake, since the time of its activity falls precisely on the period of twilight. The presence of a lamp with a UVB spectrum in the terrarium is a prerequisite.

In order for the snake to feel comfortable in captivity, it must be hibernated in winter and brought out closer to spring. To do this, at the end of autumn - the beginning of winter, daylight hours are gradually reduced and night temperatures are reduced for 2-3 weeks. When the daylight hours are 8 hours, the snake needs to stop offering food and turn off the night heating. When daylight hours are reduced to 4 hours, it is necessary to turn off the daytime heating, while the temperature should be maintained at 15-17 ° C. At this time, the snake should be placed in a dark, dry and well-ventilated place. This can be an opaque cage with sawdust. However, humidity must be maintained at 40-50%, and a drinking bowl should be regularly installed. Wintering lasts for about 2 months, after which the snake must be brought out of hibernation in the same rhythm. Feed should be started at 8 hours of daylight.

Keeping temperature: During the daytime, the background temperature in the terrarium should be maintained at 28-30°C, at night the temperature should drop to 20-21°C. An excellent option would be a temperature gradation in the terrarium so that the reptile itself can choose a comfortable place. To do this, it is enough to organize a warm-up point where the temperature reaches 30-32 ° C during the day (moss should be placed in the same place). But don't forget to hang a thermometer on the other side of the terrarium as well to keep track of the background temperature.

Humidity: A large and heavy (not to be knocked over) drinker in which the snake can not only drink, but also dive (especially during molting) and defecate if necessary, will also be an excellent source of evaporation to maintain humidity. Drinking water should be changed daily. In addition, sphagnum moss and daily spraying with warm water will play the same role.

Decoration: two-thirds of the space in the terrarium can be left free, the rest must be filled with all kinds of shelters. In this capacity, both shelters in the form of rocks, grottoes, stumps, as well as pieces of tree bark and even parts of broken clay pots can act. Three walls of the terrarium must be covered with decoration, especially if the terrarium is located in a passable place.

Feeding in captivity

In nature, the Sinaloy milk snake feeds on large insects, lizards, small rodents, and other snakes.

In captivity, the diet of these snakes may well be specially bred! rodents and insects. Feed the milk snake should not be more than once every five days.

Special vitamin and mineral supplements must be added to the food according to the manufacturer's instructions. An additional source of calcium can be crushed egg shells. Minerals can also be added to the water that the snake drinks regularly.

Life expectancy

The life expectancy of a milk snake at home ranges from 15 to 20 years on average. At the same time, already at the age of 2 years, they have the ability to reproduce. Fertilized females carry eggs for about 70 days, after which they lay them. Depending on the type of snake - eggs can be from 4 to 8 pieces.


Sexual maturity occurs at the age of 2-3 years. In the wild, the mating season runs from mid-March to early April. In captivity, representatives of this species can mate up to three times a year.

A female ready to mate emits pheromones, which are produced by glands located on her skin. She leaves an odorous trail on the surface of the soil that attracts males. One female is often followed by several applicants. Ritual battles for the right to procreate take place between them.

Approximately 45 days after mating, the female lays 4 to 10 eggs in loose, moist soil.

Incubation lasts 60-65 days. The length of hatched snakes reaches 14-20 cm. Immediately after birth, they spread in different directions and move on to independent existence. Already in the early stages of development, they have cases of cannibalism, so they are very shy and try to immediately hide when larger brothers appear.

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Milk snakes - keeping and feeding

Hello everyone! Milk snakes do well in a terrarium. Perhaps there are no other snakes with such a diverse natural color. Their whole body is painted with red, black, white or yellow rings, which makes them look like a brightly colored "traffic" rod.

The presence or absence of certain colors and their alternation is a specific (more precisely, subspecific) feature. We will talk about milk snakes Lampropeltis triangulutn.

And if we take into account the relatively easy maintenance and breeding and their non-toxicity, then the reason for their popularity among terrariumists becomes clear.

Milk snakes live on a vast territory, from North America to the north of South (the Canadian province of Ontario, a significant part of the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador).

The biotopes of these snakes are very diverse: they inhabit deserts, forests and marshes, rising up to 1140 m above sea level in mountainous areas.

Dairy snakes can be kept at home

Content of the article:

  • Dairy snakes can be kept at home
  • Why dairy snakes are called milk
  • Feeding of dairy snake
  • Content and belong to the genus King snakes (Lampropeltis).

    The large range, different habitats and natural barriers have led to the fact that the coloration of animals within the species has become significantly different. This gave taxonomists the basis to distinguish 25 subspecies of milk snakes, however, in 2009, Ruron and Burbrink, and after them, in 2012, Boundy et al. identified the slate-like milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides) as a separate species Lampropeltis elapsoides.

    As a result, 24 subspecies remained, which, you see, is not so little. Among milk snakes there are both dwarfs, barely reaching half a meter, and giants, growing up to 1.8-2 m or more.

    Please note that milk snakes may mate with other subspecies to form "Cheburashka", not to be identified.

    Why are milk snakes called milk snakes? The fact is that farmers who came to their barns in the morning often saw brightly colored snakes in them, which actually hunted for rodents.

    In the event that the cows suddenly lost milk for one reason or another, the ignorant villagers believed that the milk was sucked out by snakes. Similar prejudices are characteristic of other places.

    So, in Europe, snakes were blamed for the lack of milk in cows. Even snakes kept in captivity were given milk (they really drink it if there is no water in the terrarium).

    For example, think of A. Conan Doyle's "Colored Ribbon" with a "swamp" viper and a bowl of milk. And now you can often hear the recommendation to feed snakes with milk.

    In nature, milk snakes eat rodents, birds, reptiles, amphibians and even insects.

    Because of the "brotherly" love for snakes, it is recommended to keep them alone.

    Otherwise, one reptile will remain in the terrarium.

    Feeding the milk snake

    In captivity, the menu of snakes is less varied. Some amateurs believe that it is impossible to give amphibians "milk". I did not conduct such experiments, because all my frogs are too valuable for me, and there are enough mice in the freezer.

    On the Internet, I met statements that snakes do not take frozen (thawed and motionless) mice. I can say that this is not true. My snakes ate both freshly slaughtered (I don’t give live ones for the reason that food can bite a reptile) mice, and prepared in advance.

    At the same time, they did not suffer from appetite, killing several pieces in one sitting. But they refused to eat dead birds and eggs too.

    Although, as mentioned above, in natural conditions they do not disdain "chicken".

    Hungry snakes are actively looking for food. And at the moment of opening the door in the terrarium, they can fall out of it. Or grab your hand by mistake. Therefore, be sure to hold the food with tweezers.

    Although the "milk" is not poisonous, you are unlikely to like bites and holes in the skin. The size of the food should match the size of the snakes.

    In some countries, in a fit of upholding the rights of food animals, snakes are often fed with special combined feeds in the form of original sausages or minced meat. At the same time, forgetting about the rights and biological characteristics of predators.

    In this case, you have to catch each pet at the risk of being bitten. Next, open his mouth, insert a special syringe into his mouth and pump up the snake with lunch. In this case, the plunger of the syringe must be pressed gently and slowly. Because you can damage the animal's gastrointestinal tract.

    You also run the risk of breaking the animal's teeth and damaging the mucosa. This can cause various unpleasant diseases such as stomatitis. As you can see, the process is not pleasant, unsafe and requires a lot of time and nerves.

    Keeping a milk snake

    Milk snakes are typical inhabitants of the soil. They do not need a high terrarium for their maintenance, I will say more, they do not need a large terrarium either. Snakes about a meter long can live perfectly in a terrarium with a volume of about 20 liters.

    This is how I keep them in my favorite universal "cases" 50 cm deep, 20 cm high and 30 cm wide.

    Sheets of paper, newspapers, sawdust or sphagnum can be placed on the bottom. A green artificial grass mat works well. It is better to have a double set of such rugs. At the time when you wash and disinfect the dirty one, there is already a clean bedding in the terrarium. Shelter is a must.

    The easiest and cheapest option is the microwave container! A small hole is cut in the lid, through which a full snake can squeeze through, and a lump of wet sphagnum is placed inside.

    More decorative (but also more expensive) shelters are available at pet stores. Snakes do not need plants, they only decorate the terrarium.

    But in terrariums they usually lack light, they wither and die. It is much easier to use artificial decorations for this. You can also place a snag or branch in the terrarium.

    I didn't notice snakes lying on them, however, during molting it is easier for them to get rid of old skin, clinging to uneven tree bark. Stones can also be used for decoration.


    A large body of water is required in a terrarium.

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