Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum)

The Milksnake is a slender-bodied snake that can grow to a length of one meter or more, although most are much smaller in size. The body of the snake is grey to tan in colour with alternating dorsal blotches running the entire length. These blotches are red or reddish brown in colour, each with a distinctive black border. A Y or V shaped mark is often present on the back of the head and the belly is patterned with a white and black checkerboard. While often confused with other species, it is the only snake in Ontario that is reddish in colour.

 Usually breeding in the springtime months, the female Milksnake will lay anywhere from three to 24 eggs in rotting logs, stumps, and even the burrows of small mammals. These eggs hatch within seven to 10 weeks, with each snake taking three to four years to reach maturity. While the lifespan of wild Milksnakes are not known, an adult was caught and lived an additional 21 years in captivity! The Milksnake, when threatened, will vibrate its tail similarly to the venomous Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, often leading to misidentification.

 A habitat generalist, the Milksnake can be found in a range of areas, including rocky outcrops, fields, and forest edges. They are very often found in old farm fields and farm buildings such as barns due to the abundance of mice, their primary source of food. Threats that impact the Milksnake are the same as many Ontario snakes, such as habitat loss and road mortality. Human persecution is also a significant threat to the Milksnake, due to its common misidentification as an Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake.

 

milk snake