Milk Snake Care

Lampropeltis triangulum

Lampropeltis triangulum syspila

Lampropeltis triangulum syspila, image by mcwetboy

 

This care sheet was kindly written by Herphunter63 of RFuk, thanks Herphunter!

 

Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum) is a great beginners snake with its popularity increasing at an ever greater rate of that of Corns and Royals. Milk snakes have a large geographic range, being found throughout southeastern Canada, through most of the continental United States, to Central America, down to western Ecuador and northern Venezuela of northern South America. There are 15 milk snake subspecies. Milk snakes are one of the easiest of all snakes to keep considering that they are on the whole, great eaters, placid pets and hardy animals. 

 

Milk snake housing and heating

Milk Snakes, as well as many of its relatives, are an easy snake to keep and maintain in captivity. You’re going to want to house hatchlings and juveniles in an 18x12x12inch vivarium whereas larger snakes should be kept in something more like36x18x18inor bigger depending on size. Temperature should be around 27-33°C (81-91°F).Milk Snakes do not require U.V lamps in their vivariums. A hide should be provided on both the cold and hot sides of the cage. Added decor is a bonus as it provides the snake things to explore and is more view-pleasing for owners. A medium-sized water bowl should be placed in the cage for the snake to drink and bathe in (when in shedding process). As for substrate, I personally use Wood Chips and Aspen Shavings for adults and large juveniles and Paper Towel and Newspaper for babies. This is so the smaller snakes don’t swallow the shavings whilst eating which could result in compaction within the snake and consequently a problem.

Baby milk Snake

Lampropeltis triangulum baby, image by TrombaMarina

 

Maintennance and cleaning

Make sure to spot check your snake at least once a week. Look for faecal matter and any other mess created in the cage. Clean this promptly. Make sure your snake’s water bowl is full enough at any given time. I suggest filling it daily. If decor is knocked or displaces, gently manipulate and fix the decor. The two most important factors to think of when maintaining a snake is that its cage is in the best possible condition and whilst cleaning/maintaining the cage you should disturb the snake as little as possible so as to eliminate any stress being caused to the animal.

Feeding Milk snakes

In captivity, Milk Snakes eat rodents. I feed baby snakes 1-2 pinkies per week depending on their size (I will prioritise feeding up the smaller/underweight ones if I have any.) But for a beginner, assuming you have a normal, healthy snake, feed it 2 pinkies every 7 days. I give juveniles 2 fluffs per week and when juveniles become a larger size, small mice. My adults feed on 1 average sized mouse per week. Remember than when you are gauging on the size of food you are feeding your snake make sure it is under 1.5x the girth of the snake (gauge this by comparing the prey to the middle of the snake). I feed my snakes the same way I feed almost all my colubrids, by waving the prey in the cage, imitating a real mouse and letting the snake strike and constrict the prey item as if it was real prey before consuming it. A word of warning, Ido suggest you use tongs to feed larger specimens because you run the risk of getting bitten substantially more when feeding your snake.

Handling Milk Snakes

Milk Snakes are easy to handle thanks to their docile nature and gentleness when being handled. When first handling your snake, just pick it up slowly, supporting its body and letting it slither through your hands. Try to handle your snake regularly so it gets used to handling. You should start to develop your own style of handling quite quickly. However, I advise not to use advanced techniques such as pinning, tailing etc until you get relevant experience and guidance from an experienced keeper.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Milk Snakes can make great pets as long as their requirements are met. In my own personal opinion, in over 8 years of working with various species of Pythons, Corn Snakes, Boas and many other uncommon species, I still favour Milk Snakes over the rest of them. They’re just great snakes and I’d recommend them to any beginner.

Leaf insect

Lampropeltis triangulum (subspecies celaenops or possibly celaenops x gentilis intergrade), image by J. N. Stuart

 

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