Baby Milk Snake: 7 Pictures and 6 Amazing Facts

Written by Kaylee Keech
Updated: January 25, 2024
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Milksnakes one of the most widespread snakes in North America. Their bright colors make them popular pets, and many buy baby milk snakes from breeders.

Within the Lampropeltis genus, there are 25 species of milk and kingsnakes, plus several dozen subspecies. Milksnakes are simply a type of kingsnake and are often mistaken for copperheads or coral snakes, which are venomous.

Milksnakes can grow up to 6 feet and have bright red splotches down their bodies. These splotches have a black border, and the rest of the body is usually tan or gray. They also have a patch on their neck in the shape of a “V” or “Y.”

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Some of the most common varieties of milk snakes include the eastern milk snake, Honduran milk snake, red milk snake, and black milk snake.

Want to test your knowledge of milk snakes before continuing reading? Take this milk snake quiz.

Didn’t know as much about milk snakes as you thought? Keep reading to learn some amazing facts about baby milk snakes.

1. People Used to Think Milksnakes Drank Cow’s Milk

Albinos Honduran milk snake, Lampropeltis triangulum hondurensis,

Milk snakes do not drink cow’s milk, despite what a popular folk tale says.

©GlobalP/iStock via Getty Images

Milksnakes got their names because of a folktale. The tale says milk snakes suck cow’s milk directly from their udders.

Where did people come up with such a tale?

Well, milk snakes love to eat rodents, which are abundant in barns with farm animals. The snakes are common visitors to farms, leading to the tale that the snakes came to barns to drink cow’s milk.

There is no truth to the tale; milk snakes do not have lips and couldn’t drink from a cow’s udder even if they wanted to.

2. Baby Milksnakes are Brightly Colored at Hatching

Young Tangerine Milk Snake

Young milk snakes have much brighter colors than adults.

©Kassia Marie Ott/Shutterstock.com

Baby milk snakes have bright bodies when they first hatch. Their colors dull to reddish brown as they age. It takes about three to four years for a milk snake to mature fully.

As babies, these snakes have bright red splotches or bands down their bodies.

These tiny snakes are only about 6-7 inches when they hatch.

3. Milksnake Eggs Often Hatch in Rotting Logs

Hypomelanistic milk snake or milksnake, lampropeltis triangulum hondurensis, 16 minutes old, in front of white background

Baby milk snakes hatch from their eggs after about one to two months.

©Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

Mother milk snakes try to find the safest places to lay their eggs, which often ends up being a rotting log. If rotting logs aren’t available, she may lay her eggs in loose soil instead.

Breeding occurs from March to June, and the mothers lay their eggs between mid-June and July. On average, female milk snakes lay 13 eggs, but they can lay between 6-24.

The eggs incubate for about one and a half to two months, and the babies hatch from August to October.

4. Baby Milksnakes Eat Small Invertebrates

Eastern Milk Snake

Eastern milk snakes are one of the most common milk snake varieties.

©Jay Ondreicka/Shutterstock.com

Milksnakes are powerful constrictors that suffocate their prey, causing heart failure. They do NOT “squeeze” their prey to death.

As adults, milk snakes eat a wide range of animals, like rodents, lizards, birds, and even other snakes.

Baby milk snakes aren’t quite big or strong enough to hunt these bigger animals. Instead, they stick to smaller invertebrates, like slugs, crickets, earthworms, and other insects. They are also known for eating other small snakes.

In captivity, baby milk snake owners typically feed tiny “pinky” mice.

5. Milksnakes are Independent at Birth

Hypomelanistic milk snake or milksnake, lampropeltis triangulum hondurensis, 1 minute old, in front of white background

Though they are tiny, baby milk snakes are fully independent as soon as they hatch.

©Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

Many animals need help from their parents, but milk snakes aren’t one of them. Baby milk snakes can take care of themselves as soon as they hatch.

The parents don’t even stick around to ensure the eggs hatch. The male leaves right after mating, and the female leaves after she lays her eggs.

Although they are small, baby milk snakes can defend themselves against various predators. They can also hunt for their food.

6. Milksnakes Mimic Rattlesnakes to Survive

Lampropeltis micropholis, the South American milk snake, presents little to no patterning. If colored scales are present, they are usually dominated by black ticking.

©Santiago Ron / CC BY 4.0 – License

Milk snakes are very popular pets.

To fend off their attackers, milk snakes vibrate their tails like rattlesnakes do. They sound like a rattlesnake, and their bold colors make them look like a copperhead or coral snake. These mimicked defenses scare off many would-be predators, often saving the snake’s life.

Unfortunately, their mimicry is convincing to humans, too. Many people mistake them for copperheads and coral snakes. Fearing these venomous snakes, people often kill harmless milk snakes.

How do You Care for Baby Milksnakes?

Mexican Milksnake

Milk snakes need warm temperatures and plenty of space for their long bodies.

©reptiles4all/Shutterstock.com

According to the reptile seller ReptilesNCritters, it’s okay to keep baby milk snakes in a plastic shoebox until they grow to about 2 feet long.

The Northampton Reptile Center recommends using a wooden vivarium rather than a plastic or glass one. Wood is an excellent insulator. It is better at maintaining the warm temperatures that milk snakes need. Make sure that the wooden vivarium also has good ventilation.

Note: Wood enclosures are often more difficult to keep sanitary, so be aware of your snake’s needs.

Keep upgrading the snake’s tank as it gets bigger. Each snake should have its adult-sized tank by 6-8 months of age.

Adult milk snakes should have a vivarium at least 34 inches long.

You can keep several baby milk snakes together as long as they are similar in size. Larger babies will bully smaller ones, so don’t keep babies together if they are different sizes.

You’ll also need a warm basking area on one side of the tank that you can create with a clear basking bulb. Keep the temperature between 85-90°F.

Switch the basking light off at night. Use an under-tank heat mat to achieve a nighttime temperature of around 80°F.

Feed baby milk snakes about once every five to seven days. Give them a defrosted “pinky” mouse.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Siarhei Kasilau/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I am a content writer who focuses on pets, wildlife, sustainability, and the environment. I specialize in blogs and love showing my readers how fascinating everything can be! I graduated from Millersville University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a Concentration in Marine Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Science Writing. I volunteered at Raven Ridge Wildlife Center for five years, where I helped care for injured and orphaned Pennsylvania wildlife. I love all animals, wild and domestic. I've had all kinds of pets, including dogs, cats, birds, fish, a lizard, a snake, and a guinea pig. I may be curled up with a good book or my crochet when I'm not writing. I also enjoy exploring new places, especially by hiking or kayaking.

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