See more Reptiles

Pueblan Milk Snake

Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli

  1. Not Evaluated
  2. Data Deficient
  3. Least Concern
  4. Near Threatened
  5. Vulnerable
  6. Endangered
  7. Critically Endangered
  8. Extinct in the Wild
  9. Extinct

About Us

Woburn Safari Park has one Pueblan Milk Snake. Pedro is inquisitive and very active, and is always eager to explore his surroundings when being handled. Keepers have to keep a close eye on this little snake; it is amazing how quick he can move. Come and meet some of Woburn’s smaller reptiles in the ‘Disscovery Zone' (only open at set times throughout the day).

Distribution
Mexico
Habitat
Deciduous forest edges, tropical forests, open woodland, dry or wet prairies, savannah's, rocky hillsides, small streams or marshes, and agricultural or suburban areas
Height
Average length 90 cm
Lifespan
15 - 20 years in captivity
Threats
Often killed by humans who mistake them for venomous snakes

Behaviour

Pueblan Milk Snakes are rarely seen in the open during the day; however they can be active at high temperatures, in comparison to other snakes which seek shelter from the heat. Favourite hunting grounds for these non-venomous snakes are around barns or other human locales, lying in wait to strike at small rodents commonly found in such areas. The only time these snakes are found in groups is during hibernation. Right before and right after hibernation, they can be seen basking in the sun in large groups.

Diet

Pueblan Milk Snakes are non-venomous constrictors. Firstly a Milk Snake will strike and bite their prey in order to obtain a firm grip, and then it quickly wraps one or more coils of its body around the victim. The snake then squeezes tightly; unable to expand their lungs to breathe, the prey suffocates. They feed on a variety of prey. Young hatchlings tend to feed on lizards and other young snakes, while adults feed on larger prey, such as mice, rats, birds and snake eggs. It swallows the food whole, usually head first. 

Physical features

The Pueblan Milk Snake is a three colour banded snake. The band pattern is red-black-white-black. The bands are fairly broad, although the black bands are narrower than the red and white bands. There are a number of colour variations where the white may be replaced with apricot or tangerine, and the red may be replaced with orange. The head is black and usually has a light U-shape on the frontal scale. The first white band starts on the back of the head. The bands extend partly onto the underside.

Breeding behaviour

Pueblan Milk Snakes brumate or hibernate for a period of 3-4 months from November through early March, emerging to mate at the end of this time period. Females are triggered in this way to ovulate and produce a pheromone trail (using glands on her skin) which the males follow. The female lays 2-15 eggs 30 days after mating. Two months after copulation, hatchlings measuring from 14 to 28 cm emerge. The young are always brightly coloured, though colour dulls as maturity is reached. It takes 3 to 4 years to reach full maturity. 

Threats and conservation

Pueblan Milk Snakes are not listed as endangered. Though Milk Snakes are often killed by humans who mistake them for venomous snakes, they are widespread and still considered abundant throughout most of their range. Intensive agricultural development and urbanization have caused localized declines and they are also popular pets, and may be collected from the wild for the pet trade. They are also hunted for their skins to make tourist products or souvenirs which contribute to their decline.

Milk Snakes, like all snakes, play an important ecological role in their environment. They help maintain the balance of nature by being both predator and prey. Milk Snakes are among those snakes most often considered helpful to humans because they hunt rodents. These reptiles should be respected instead of feared or harassed. 

Fun facts

Both Milk Snakes and Coral Snakes possess transverse bands of red, black and yellow. A popular rhyme can be used to properly distinguish between the deadly Coral Snake and the harmless Milk Snake:

  • Red on yellow will kill a fellow, but red on black is a friend of Jack.

Snakes have no eyelids and instead have a transparent covering that rests over their eyes called brilles to protect their eyes from dust and dirt. The brilles give them a "glassy-eyed" blank appearance. Snakes sleep with their eyes open!