The eastern milksnake is native to the northeastern United States, where it lives in varied habitats ranging from river valleys and hillsides to woodlands, meadows, and agricultural fields.
At the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, visitors can see an eastern milksnake in the Tree exhibit of the Maryland Wilderness.
This snake tends to stay out of sight, sheltering beneath fallen logs and under stones or piles of debris. In New England, eastern milksnakes tend to reside in old stone walls.
Farmers may see milksnakes in or near their barns, and should view them as welcome visitors because they will help keep the mice population under control. This snake is a non-venomous constrictor that preys mainly upon rodents, lizards, and other snakes.
The eastern milksnake is a type of kingsnake. All kingsnakes are native to the western hemisphere. The “king” in their name refers to their willingness to eat other snakes, even venomous ones.
Eastern milksnakes usually breed in late spring and summer. Females lay their eggs in rotting wood or beneath rocks and logs, where conditions are relatively warm and humid. After laying their eggs, the females disperse and neither they nor the males provide parental care. Eggs hatch in just over a month. The young milksnakes are more brightly colored at birth than the adults, but their color fades as they mature.
Eastern milksnakes may be eaten by birds of prey and nocturnal predators such as raccoons, foxes, and coyotes. Many are also killed accidentally by passing cars, and sometimes intentionally by fearful humans.
The eastern milksnake is considered stable throughout its range.