This site was created by students in the herpetology class at Towson University. Site last updated: 05/21/07.
Acknowledgements: Herb Harris - Range Maps; Mark Tegges - Photography; Dan Lapascha & Gigi Forester - TU Herpetology Logo
Milk snakes are generally 60-130 cm long and can be a variety of colors. This snake has a gray or tan ground color with black-bordered blotches down the length of the body, which may be brown, red, orange, or yellow. The key feature to quickly differentiate this snake from others of similar pattern is a light V or Y shape on nape of the neck. The venter coloration is usually white with clusters of black checkers, although the venter may be sometimes tinted pink or peach. The scales are smooth, and it has a single anal plate. Young are much more brightly colored than adults.
Milk snakes are secretive, and are rarely seen in the open, but they occupy a variety of habitats. They are most often seen around forest edges, but they can also be found in grasses, rocky hillsides, small streams or marshes, and even suburban or agricultural areas. They are primarily nocturnal, but can be found during the day under rocks, logs, or other cover. Small mammals are the preferred prey of these snakes, but they will readily eat other snakes and may also eat birds, bird eggs, frogs, fish, slugs, and insects.
Milk snakes breed every year in the spring and early summer. It is thought that milk snakes often breed before they emerge from their hibernacula, and females usually lay around 10 eggs in warm, humid areas. The eggs hatch after 28-39 days, and it takes 3-4 years for juveniles to reach reproductive maturity.
Distribution in Maryland
Range map adapted from Harris, 1975.
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