Baby Milk Snake: Should They Be Revered Or Cuddled With?

Milk snakes are a species of kingsnakes and both share commonalities. Most kingsnakes have a tri-banded appearance, and milk snakes seem to have gone quite generous at expressing this trait. Except for a couple of milk snakes, all others share a similar look and make good pets.

Baby milk snakes are even more sought after. They look more vibrant than their parents and have an interesting personality. Their feisty temperament and shy nature make all pet lovers go ga-ga over them. In this article, you will learn about the enchanting lives of milk snakelets!

Baby Milk Snake: All That You Wanted To Know About Snake Babies!

Milk snakes belong to the genus called Lampropeltis and they are non-venomous colubrids. Lampropeltis is a Greek word that means “bright shields” that refer to the red, white and black scaled-crossbands on their body. They are docile most of the time, but could be a bit feisty in captivity. Let’s get introduced to their pre and post-life shenanigans!

How Do Baby Milk Snakes Hatch?

Baby Milk Snake Hatching Process

Source: @ultimateexoticsreptiles

Milk snakes have an oviparous reproductive cycle where eggs develop inside their womb but hatch after being laid. There are other types of reproductive cycles that have been adapted by snakes like vipers and boa constrictors where live snakelets are born from the cloacal opening of the mother snake. Either way, snakelets are always on their own after slithering into this world since parent snakes abandon them almost as soon as the eggs have been laid.

However, do not feel sorry for the baby milk snakes though. They are fully equipped with their tiny aglyphous teeth and innate hunting tactics right from the very first day of their life. Milk snake eggs are oblong-shaped and leathery, and milk snake babies have inbuilt egg-tooth that they use to tear their way out of the soft and gooey textured eggshell into the ruthless world.

Some Examples Of Milk Snake Families:

Let’s meet some beautiful subspecies of milk snakes, and get to learn how their parents planned the family. We will also get to appreciate the effort of the mother snake in incubating the eggs. Usually, milk snakes lay anywhere between 2 to 20 eggs in the summer season. Their mating takes place in the spring season, right after the winter brumation.

Mexican milk snakes, for instance, hatch during rainy spring evenings. The females lay about 4 to 10 eggs per clutch,and incubate the eggs for 55-60 days. Pueblan milk snakes undergo brumation between November and March and after that females ovulate, leaving a pheromone trail to attract the males. Mother milk snakes lay 2-15 eggs that need two months of incubation.

Sinaloan milk snakes experience brumation between November and February, and at the end of this period, they mate between May and June. After a successful copulation, females lay about 5 to 15 eggs, sometimes twice a year, with the eggs hatching after 60 days. Eastern milk snakes lay about 4 to 12 eggs, in early summer, that hatch after 2 to 2.5 months.

Two milk snake subspecies that lay the highest number of eggs are the Andean and the Honduran milk snakes. Andean milk snakes may lay anywhere between 12 and 20 eggs, and by the blessing of multiple copulations, they sometimes lay 4 clutches of eggs per year. Not behind in the egg-laying race by any means are the Honduran milk snakes that lay 3 to 18 eggs per season in early June. After 2 months of incubation, eggs hatch in August or September.

What Do Baby Milk Snakes Look Like?

Milk snakes have the scientific name Lampropeltis triangulum. Lampropeltis is a Greek word where “lampros” means “bright” and “pelts” means “shields”. Triangulum points at a shape with 3 angles, like a triangle. All the three words refer to the tri-colored scales on a milk snake’s body that act as a shield to the snake because scales do protect snakes from extreme conditions.

Baby milk snakes generally look even brighter than their parents. They are usually between 8 to 16 inches long, and are shy and restless at the same time, the temperament varying in subtle degrees with each subspecies. Unfortunately, because of their close resemblance to venomous coral snakes and copperhead snakes, they are often persecuted by humans and other animals.

Different Subspecies Size And Color

Source: @popmilk_herping

Different Subspecies Size And Color

Andean milk snake hatchlings and baby black milk snakes are the largest in the Lampropeltis triangulum family. Andean babies could be each 8 to 10 inches long, which is quite rare. They are also extremely bright but get duller as they age. They have a typical milk snake look with red, black and white tri-crossbands, with the red bands much wider than the other two colors.

Black milk snakes produce by far the largest baby milk snakes. Black milk snake hatchlings are huge, even larger than Andean milk snakes. They are each 12 to 16 inches long! Not only that but they metamorph as they age. When they are hatchlings, they have the traditional tri-banded look, but by the time they are 6-10 months old, they turn completely black.

Mexican milk snake babies are also quite brightly colored and they have a feature that sets them apart from other milk snakes. They have a dark yellow or orange first band (the band after the head) on their neck while all the other bands are cream. Also, their red bands are redder and 2 to 3 times wider than other subspecies. Mexican baby milk snakes are 6-7 inches long.

Pueblan baby milk snakes are 6 to 10 inches long and have wide white bands, a feature that makes them distinguishable from other milk snakes. Red milk snakes and Eastern milk snakes have the classic tri-banded appearance. However, Pueblan milk snakes have more reddish-brown colored crossbands, while the other two appear brighter red.

Albino Milk Snake Size And Color

Now, let’s talk about some subspecies of milk snakes that can actually be as white as milk! They are called albino milk snakes because they have a condition called albinism that can cause them to produce less melanin than usual. Some of them look pinkish white, while some may have all the colors except black. One way to identify them is to look for red or pink eyes!

Take Nelson milk snakes, for instance. Most of them are completely white, while some may have purplish crossbands instead of the usual black ones. Also, their red bands appear more pink than red. The heads and the tail regions are milky white. They are awesome as pets and though they may not survive for a very long time in the wild, they do in captivity.

Honduran milk snakes babies are 8 inches long and have the traditional tri-colored banded look. They appear darker or brighter than their parents but become duller as they mature. Honduran milk snakes breeding may result in the production of two-headed albinos– yes, a Honduran milk snake hatched with 2 heads joined at the neck. They are very rare and highly cherished.

Sinaloan milk snakes are another subspecies of milk snakes the babies of which could hatch to be quite long of about 10 to 12 inches. They are usually blood red, with white or yellow bands, and the red bands are wider than the other two bands. Their belly is a checkerboard creamy white. Sinaloan milk snakes may have albino morphs too that look gorgeous!

How Do We Know That Baby Milk Snakes Have Matured?

Matured Baby Milk Snakes

Source: @evankirincich

Milk snakes will have matured by the time they are 3 to 4 years old. However, Honduran milk snakes reach sexual maturity within the first 1.5 years of their life. The colors would be a little duller than they were when they hatched from the eggs. Black milk snakes will be completely black by the time they are 1 or 2 years old. Albino morphs usually look the same in adulthood.

Another way to check if they have reached maturity is to compare their size and presence of sexual organs. Milk snakes are usually between 8 and 16 inches when they hatch, and grow up to 4 to 5 feet by the time they reach adulthood. Males show a bulge close to their tails that indicate that they are sexually mature. Males also possess longer tails than females.

What Do Baby Milk Snakes Eat?

In the wild, baby milk snakes are usually found within rock crevices or under thick vegetation. Forested regions or even open grasslands are their usual pathways and dwelling places. They can also be found in swamps and places close to freshwater sources. Andean and black milk snakes can be found in mountainous rocky zones, whereas Mexican milk snakes are found in dry and arid places of Mexico. They can be found all over N. America and parts of S. America.

What Do Baby Milk Snakes Eat Before They Hatch?

While baby snakes are inside the mother’s womb, they get their nutrition via their mother’s uterus and circulatory system. There are shell glands inside the mother’s body that add gelatinous layers around the growing embryo to protect it. More calcium-rich shells are added later that make up the egg shell. These eggs shells are permeable and let water and oxygen in.

After the eggs are laid, the baby milk snakes obtain their nutrition solely from the yolk sac inside the egg shell. After they hatch from the eggs, they no longer have any ready-made food source to be provided by their parents as we observe in the case of birds or mammals. Once they come into contact with the outside world, they are completely on their own to fend for themselves.

What Do Baby Milk Snakes Eat After They Hatch?

Baby milk snakes are as ruthless as their parents, fully equipped with teeth and strong jaws. However, in their early years, baby milk snakes usually do not aim for prey larger than their head size because that might cause jaw injury. Therefore, baby milk snakes would usually be hunting down small lizards, slugs, and earthworms that they can easily swallow down.

Some young milk snakes are semi-arboreal and spring up tree trunks to make their way to bird nests and swallow down small bird eggs, and even small birds like finch or sparrow. The milk snakes that venture in moist habitats hunt for small frogs, newts and toads. In captivity, baby milk snakes usually go for frozen thawed baby mice.

Young Andean snakes, for instance, eat mostly insects. Baby young Pueblan milk snakes are opportunistic feeders and will eat anything they can empower. In certain cases, like in extremely harsh weather conditions or loss of habitat due to deforestation, baby milk snakes may have to go without food for a long time. Baby milk snakes can go without food for 6 months!

How Do Baby Milk Snakes Hunt In The Wild?

Baby Milk Snake Hunting In The Wild

Source: @kedaisatwaindonesia

Baby milk snakes are totally equipped with their shield and weaponry to fight life’s battles right after they hatch from their eggs. As they are non-venomous colubrids, they neither have any fangs or venom to subdue their prey, but they do have all the sharp, pointed teeth, that are all uniform in shape and size, necessary to grasp prey so that they cannot escape.

So how do milk snakes subdue their prey? They do that by a method called constriction. As soon as they have made sure that their prey are within their control, they start making coil loops around the body of the prey, simultaneously applying squeezing pressure. The pressing action prevents the prey from inhaling which suffocates the victim to fatality.

Apart from possessing expertise on the formidable technique of constriction, there are other features in the milk snake’s body that allow it to hunt prey down and defend itself from predators like raccoons, foxes and owls. They possess special organs and capabilities that help them to perceive danger by using the sensations of taste, smell, vision, and hearing.

Milk snakes have specialized chemoreceptor cells at the roof of their mouth that help them to detect chemicals being emitted by another animal in their vicinity. They use their tongue to help them in this process. Even baby milk snakes are equipped with these specialized receptor cells.

You may have noticed that snakes keep flicking their tongue especially when they perceive danger or feel uncomfortable. This tongue picks up any foreign chemical molecule from the air. The snake then brushes its tongue against the chemoreceptors to detect the source of the chemicals. In this way a baby milk snake can smell and taste all at the same time. But they use the smell and taste perception to detect prey rather than enhance the flavor of the food they eat.

The checkerboard patterned undersides of milk snakes are very sensitive to ground vibration. With the help of this sensitivity, they can track the movement of an approaching prey or predator. They do not have excellent eyesight but it is good enough to detect stillness and movement. Their visual acumen allows them to perceive at least two different primary colors in the daytime. They can also filter UV rays from sun’s light to improve their vision.

How Do Baby Milk Snakes Swallow Something Larger Than Their Head?

The structure of a snake’s skull and ribs would make you imagine a dragon straight out of a fairy tale. A milk snake’s skull, and that includes a baby milk snake too, detaches into 4 parts when it opens its mouth to swallow a prey!

Unlike a mammalian jaw, where the upper jaw is affixed to the skull making it immovable, and the lower jaw is solid, a snake’s upper jaw is attached to the skull by elastic ligaments, and the lower jaw has a division in the middle joined by ligaments as well. This allows the upper and the lower jaw to open up outward and upward when the snake makes a gape thus permitting it to gulp down a prey larger than its own head.

Not only the skull but the ribs of a milk snake, like all other snakes, are also expandible. In a mammalian skeleton, the ribs are attached to the breastbone or sternum at the front. However, in a snake the sternum is not present, and the ribs are all open at the front, ready to expand around the carcass of the prey when it is being pushed down the gut by peristaltic movement.

How Do Baby Milk Snakes Behave?

Baby Milk Snake Behaviour

Source: @michigander_naturalist

Baby milk snakes are full of life right from the moment they hatch and face the world. In captivity, they have been reported to be fussy and feisty, climbing up the walls of the terrarium every chance they get. They are efficient escape artists and will wriggle their way out of the tank if the tank lid has slipped open by any chance. Searching for them would be an impossible task.

In the wild and within human supervision, baby milk snakes have been found to be more nocturnal than diurnal, especially during the summer season. They are partly terrestrial and partly arboreal, and they can swim too, thus increasing their chances of survival in a wide range of habitats. They are quite secretive and shy and like to spend quality time inside rock crevices.

They are usually very docile and non-confrontational when perturbed. However, when they are cornered or harassed persistently, they tend to hiss and bite but their bites do not cause any fatal injury. They are also known to release a pungent-smelling musk when disturbed so that the intruder leaves it alone. In order to keep predators at bay, they mimic rattlesnakes at times.

Behavior Of Different Subspecies Of Baby Milk Snakes

Andean baby milk snakes can tolerate lower temperatures than most other milk snakes since they are accustomed to living in the cooler higher altitudes of the Andes mountains. Their babies are very colorful which makes predators mistake them to be the venomous coral snakes.  Andean milk snakes mostly stay in burrows to protect themselves from wind and cold.

Mexican milk snakes, on the other hand, can tolerate much higher temperatures than normal because they originate in the dry and arid deserts of Mexico. Their babies mimic the appearance of coral snakes too. Mexican milk snake babies are crepuscular, mostly burrowing in the daytime due to heat. They are very docile and do not usually bite or emit musk.

Pueblan milk snakes have a bit of a shaky reputation. They get very nervous in the presence of predators or humans, and are notorious for emitting a pungent smelling substance from their cloaca when handled badly. When provoked, they tend to bite as well, but like other milk snake bites, they do not hurt more than ant-bites or pin-pricks. Pueblans are quite flighty as well.

Black milk snakes, like Andeans, are used to lower temperatures since they live in the mountains too. Nelson milk snakes like to be near water sources. They love to frequent irrigated and agricultural fields, and also thorn scrubs and deciduous forests. Eastern milk snakes, which are one of the most common milk snakes, are ever-so-famous nocturnal hunters.

Sinaloan milk snakes are a bit like Pueblan milk snakes in the sense that they appear quite nervous and restless. They are quite agile and can escape cages if not supervised properly. They emit musk when mishandled. Baby Sinaloan milk snakes favor rocky arid drylands, mostly active nocturnally. During the day, they rest beneath loose rocks or underneath cacti plants.

What Do The Feces Of Baby Milk Snakes Look Like?

Baby milk snakes, like all other adult milk snakes or snakes in general, become quite dormant after it has swallowed a mouse or an invertebrate. The digestion process requires time since the snake fully depends on its gut enzymes to digest the tissues of the prey– the snake does not use its aglyphous teeth to break down the food item into smaller pieces to be digested easily.

Within 48 hours, however, the snake’s digestive system becomes more active. The digestive enzymes in the snake’s gut break down everything except fur or hair, claws, and bones, and these are all defecated out through the cloacal opening. They do not have two separate openings to expel either feces or urine. Both of them are excreted at once.

A milk snake’s feces look like any other animal’s droppings, with white urea streaks present. The feces appear more fluid or runny, and brown in color. Snakes that eat rodents a lot expel oblong-shaped feces. Larger subspecies of milk snakes expel larger pieces of feces. Identification of snake feces is useful since it will indicate the presence of snakes close to you.

How Must Baby Milk Snakes Be Taken Care Of?

Taking Care of Baby Milk Snakes

Source: @hair_of_the__dog

Taking care of baby milk snakes is not that much of a hassle. They will enjoy the same type of enclosures that you give to your other snakes. However, know them better before you get one.

Baby milk snakes are usually between 8 and 16 inches so do not require a lot of room. A 5 to 10 gallon tank or terrarium is perfect for them. A screened-lid is of the utmost importance since some milk snakes, like Pueblan and Sinaloan milk snakes, appear restless and flighty unless of course it is resting or sleepy time. Adults need much larger tanks of 20 to 30 gallon capacity.

Baby milk snakes love to explore– it is only expected since they have just stepped into this world and there is so much to discover. They like to hide inside caves, immerse within the depths of soil and leafy vegetation and sneak at the world from safety. Terrarium substrate can be made of cypress mulch or aspen shavings. Refrain from using pine or cedar shavings.

A temperature between 80 to 85°F should be maintained. For Andean milk snakes, which are used to cooler habitats, a 78 to 80°F heating will be required. Baby milk snakes do not need their tanks to be misted, but definitely give them a large water bowl to splash in. Baby milk snakes, that have just hatched, can be kept together in one tank, however, when they get 6-8 months old, they should each be given separate enclosures.

Pueblan milk snakes, for instance, love confined spaces, so give them covers, like artificial caves and plants to explore and hide in. Baby milk snakes usually eat frozen thawed pinky mice. Make sure that the food item is not bigger than their head or body circumference. Black milk snakes can metabolize their food faster than other milk snakes thus bearing the tendency to become obese very easily. Therefore, baby milk snakes should be fed carefully.


Baby milk snakes look as adorable as toy snakes with their bright tri-banded appearance and vibrant colors. Black baby milk snakes are phenomenal owing to their inherent capability to change color and become completely black as they mature. They are quite popular as pets.

Baby milk snakes, though abandoned by their parents as soon as they hatch, and are completely on their own, are fully equipped and ruthless like their parents. We should not feel sorry for baby milk snakes but admire them for their fiercely independent personality.

Hi dear readers! This is Rebecca, the lead analyst and blog writer for Snake Insider. Following in the footsteps of David’s guided path, I feel highly encouraged to make the most interesting snake-facts to a mass audience! In due time, I believe we’ll be able to present some jaw-dropping insight on snakes that’s sure to leave you begging for more! Personally, I’m a strongly motivated person to explore the most extreme environments should my work demand it. In many cases, I’ve ventured deep into territories that were never considered certain snake habitats and brought back necessary information. Rest assured I’ll surely be sharing them with you over the course of time.

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