Eastern Milk Snake a slender species, with a beige background and brown to reddish blotches on the back. The belly has a black and white checkerboard pattern. They are often mistaken for rattlesnakes since they will vibrate their tail rapidly when threatened, which can produce a buzzing sound if it contacts the ground. Once believed to milk cows, hence the name, but like all snakes they only drink water! Farmers now realize the great benefit of this snake, as its primary diet is rodents. Milk snakes also prey on other snakes, including venomous species, as they are immune to the toxins. These snakes rarely exceed one metre in length. Milk snakes are found throughout southern Ontario.
The Eastern Milk Snake is one of many milk snakes in the Lampropeltis triangulum subspecies complex. It is one of the less strikingly colored forms, being overall gray to brown with darker middorsal and lateral blotches. Some specimens tend to have reddish blotches, and most resemble corn snakes or mole kingsnakes. This Eastern Milk Snake is often mistaken for the copperhead, and killed. General characteristics of milk snakes are small, narrow heads, smooth scales, undivided anal plate, and a tendency to eat both reptiles and rodents. The two recognized subspecies of L. triangulum found in North Carolina are the Eastern Milk Snake and the Scarlet Kingsnake. There is speculation that these two subspecies intergrade in the northeastern coastal plain of N.C. north to New Jersey. This intergrade is known as the Coastal Plain Milk Snake.
Size: 24-36 in., record 52 in.
Habitat: Rocky areas, farmlands, and wooded areas. Often found under boards or flat
Geographic Range: Eastern milk snakes are found throughout the eastern United States, while other subspecies of L. triangulum range throughout North and South America. In North Carolina, the eastern milk snake is primarily a species of the upper Piedmont and Mountains. The coastal plain milk snake intergrade is found in the northern coastal plain.
Abundance: Locally common during the months from April to August.
Longevity: In excess of 20 years, in captivity.
As with most snakes, milk snakes can bite if provoked. Individual temperament varies. In spite of a popular myth, this snake does not milk cows. Many rural folk believe these snakes sneak up on bovines and steal the milk from their udders. They don’t.
• Strategy: Oviparity (Egg-laying)
• Time of Year: Mating occurs around May, eggs are laid around June or July, and hatching occurs around August.
• Temp./Humidity: Care should be taken to avoid rapid temperature fluctuations and extreme heat or cold. Do not allow the captive enclosure to remain damp for long periods of time.
• Food: Medium to large mice offered biweekly.
• H2O: A water bowl with tap water.