Eastern Milksnake - Lampropeltis triangulum triangulatum

The milksnake got its name from the widespread and persistent – yet utterly ridiculous – belief that it milks cows. (Who knows how that rumor got started?) This snake may frequent barns in search of rodents, but will never be caught milking a cow.

“Where I live”

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.

“How I live there”

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. 

“Making my mark”

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.

Raising Young

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.

“What eats me”

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.

Conservation

The eastern milksnake is considered stable throughout its range.

Quick Facts:

Range:
northeastern U.S., west to Minnesota and south to northern Alabama

Status:
least concern

Habitat:
river valleys, hillsides, woodlands, fields, and agricultural areas

Diet- Carnivore:
mainly mice, snakes, and lizards

Active:
nocturnal

Lifespan:
up to 20 years

Offspring:
6-20 eggs per clutch

Length:
24-36 in. on average (61-90 cm)

Weight:
.5-1.0 lb.

Penguin Encounters

New African Penguin Exhibit

Mammals

Birds

Reptiles

Amphibians

Elephant Program

Conservation

Animal Experiences

Rise & Conquer