Mexican Milk Snake

Mexican Milk Snake: Get To Know The King Of The Mountains And Deserts!

Milk snakes are extremely adaptive. Be it humid tropical climate within dense forests, or hot and dry deserts– they can survive almost everywhere. They are expert tree climbers, and also highly-skilled swimmers. They can wriggle away at lightning fast speeds, and also hiss ferociously when perturbed. An example of such magnificent snakes is the Mexican milk snake!

Mexican milk snakes can survive within the arid and semi-arid zones of Mexico. They can also be found in Texas that shares a similar kind of atmosphere. The forests, mountains and water bodies of these two places nurture a large collection of flora and fauna. This species of milk snakes are not only robust, but also cute and lovable. Let’s know more about them!

A Sneak Peek Into The Secretive Lives Of Milk Snakes

Milk snakes are called Lampropeltis triangulum in scientific terms. Both the names are Greek words that have a very interesting English meaning. In the word Lampropeltis, ‘lampros’ means bright, and ‘pelte’ means shield. Both the words refer to the brightly colored scales on the milk snake’s body that play a role in protecting the critter from extremes of temperature.

Milk snakes are a species of kingsnakes that fall in the large family of Colubridae. They are non-venomous and do not possess fangs in their mouth. Milk snakes are just as innocent as their name. Do you know why they have such an adorable name? They frequent barns and sheds a lot so there is a popular myth that they suckle on cows! Hilarious, isn’t it?

Mexican Milk Snake: All That You Ever Wanted To Know About Them!

Milk snakes do not only appear lovable but are also gentle and docile. They are known for wriggling away within rock crevices whenever approached. Let’s know more about these shy critters without making them too uncomfortable. Hop in to ride the exploration tunnel!

Mexican Milk Snake Looking Pattern

Source: @snake_n_snek

What Does A Mexican Milk Snake Look Like?

Mexican milk snakes are a subspecies of milk snakes with the scientific name Lampropeltis triangulum annulata. Like most other milk snakes, they have a tri-colored banded appearance of red, black and white, the reason why their species name is “Triangulum”. They are also termed as “annulated” because the black and yellow (or white) crossbands look like rings.

  • Crossband Pattern: The pattern of colorful bands on common Mexican milk snakes follows the following template: red-black-yellow-black-red. The red bands are much wider than the other two colors. Notice that the red bands do not touch the yellow (or white) bands at all. This is a distinctive feature when it comes to differentiate milk snakes from the venomous coral snakes! Coral snakes have the same color but the red crossbands touch the yellow ones.
  • Color Morphs: It has been observed that as one goes more to the western parts of Mexico, the yellow or white bands turn a beautiful cream on the Mexican milk snake’s body. However, as one moves more to the east and north, the cream appears to be less distinctive, slowly turning to bright orange in the extreme southern parts of the country.
    Mexican milk snake specimens have been spotted in some parts of Texas as well and they look slightly different, more distinctive to speak, in the southern parts of the state. Unlike the Mexican milk snakes in Mexico, where the red crossbands are much wider, in the Texan specimen all the crossbands have the same width, and the white bands are white, and not yellow.
  • Head And Undersides:  The belly of Mexican milk snakes has a checkerboard appearance marked with intermittent criss-crossing lines of black and white. There is a feature present in only this subspecies that may help you to distinguish it from other milk snake subspecies.
    Right after the black head, the very first band is bright yellow or orange-yellow in Mexican milk snakes, while all the other light-colored bands are solid cream, or lighter shades of yellow or orange. In most other milk snakes, the first band after the head is white or a lighter shade.
  • Length: Mexican milk snakes do not grow that long, 24 to 30 inches or 3-4 feet being the longest. Other milk snake subspecies are longer than Mexican milk snakes. Also, this snake in question has a wider or heavier body than other milk snake subspecies.

Where Can A Mexican Milk Snake Be Found?

Chihuahuan Desert Map, NM Chart of Mexican Milk Snake

In the warm tropical and subtropical climate of Mexico and Texas, hundreds of trees and animals have thrived successfully. Though there is some rainfall to quench the thirst of the dry terrains of Mexico and Texas, places like Nuevo Leon receive very little precipitation and can reach extremes of weather conditions at times. Thankfully, there are lots of mountains and rivers, like the Rio Grande and the Colorado, that keep the weather conditions bearable.

In the semi-arid and arid regions of the areas mentioned above, and strewn across the sparse vegetation of the Chihuahuan desert, are places where the Mexican milk snakes take refuge. Dry and sandy soil of these states are some of the favorite hiding places of these brightly colored Mexican milk snakes. Camouflaging may be a challenge, but the snake has various other defense techniques against predators.

Hiding under loose rocks and crevices, and remaining motionless under cacti plants, resting their head on top of the mounds of coils of its own body, are something they prefer to do during the heated sun-lit hours. Sun basking while sprawling on large boulders, wriggling across rocky and sandy plains, lying lazily on grass-covered lands, are their most likable pastime activities.

What Does A Mexican Milk Snake Eat?

Mexican Milk Snake Mostly Feed On Small Reptiles

Source: @stonerinthegarage

Mexico and Texas have a plethora of reptiles, birds and mammals living in the forests, foothills, mountains, along rivers and valleys, within rocky crevices, and underneath low-growing vegetation. Tropical, temperate and riparian forests consisting of oak, elm, hackberry, pecan and fir trees, are home to a large variety of venomous and non-venomous snakes.

Not only snakes, but other reptiles like anoles and mesquite lizards, rodents like mice, agouti, voles and squirrels, and birds like flycatchers, sparrows and ducks, are spread out all across Texas and Mexico. The rich biodiversity of these areas provides ideal living conditions for Mexican milk snakes to thrive in. They mostly feed on rodents, small reptiles, and birds.

Mexican milk snakes, like all other milk snakes, subdue their prey by constriction. They use their small and sharp teeth to grasp the flesh of the prey so that it cannot escape, and while holding it, it creates coils around the prey’s body to suffocate it. When the prey stops breathing, the snake swallows the whole prey down its throat. It is a sight to behold.

Mexican milk snakes demonstrate ophiophagous tendencies because they tend to eat other snakes as well. Their super retractable jaws and abominably expandible ribs that do not join at a sternum as they do in mammals, allow snakes to swallow down prey larger than their skull size or body circumference. But fitting a whole snake into their gut, which is quite tiny and not as long as their whole body length, can be a bit of an arduous process, if not impossible.

Research has shown that snakes do this by establishing a concertina-like movement, resembling the peristaltic movement of the gut system of a mammal to some extent, that pushes the prey-snake down the gut system without causing much discomfort! This movement makes the dead body of the prey-snake mimic the shape of the predator-snake, so as to prevent any food-traffic along the way. After swallowing a snake, a predator-snake can become immobile.

How Does A Mexican Milk Snake Behave?

Mexican milk snakes are crepuscular and nocturnal, indicating that they love the moon-lit hours more than daytime. As soon as the sun goes down, especially in the spring and autumn season, they wriggle out of their hiding places inside burrows and rock crevices, and start exploring what has been left by nature after a long day ends. They also love to bask in the daytime.

Mexican milk snakes are mostly terrestrial, but they can also swim and climb trees. Amphibians, water lizards and birds fall in their dietary preferences for this reason. This places them at a very advantageous position since they can hunt down a large variety of animals as prey and thus increase their chances of survival in the harsh weather conditions of Mexico and Texas.

Though they are quite secretive in nature and highly docile, usually turning and twisting into hiding places as soon as an intruder pops up, once they getharasses or repetitively disturbed, they can hiss and bite. They are also masters of mimicry and will not think twice about copying the tail-beating behavior of rattlesnakes to ward off predators.

How Does A Mexican Milk Snake Reproduce?

Mexican Milk Snake Reproduce By Laying Eggs

Source: @sharpshooterreptiles

Mexican milk snakes are oviparous. The eggs and the embryo partially develop inside the womb of the mother snake and when a suitable time comes, the eggs are laid. The eggs are then incubated by the mother snakes for 2 or 2.5 months. During this incubation period, snakelets inside the eggs complete the rest of the development process and hatch when the time comes.

This is in opposition to ovoviviparous snakes where the babies grow inside the mother’s womb and are laid when the egg-laying season arrives or when conditions are more suitable. Members of the venomous Viperidae family give birth to live young ones, instead of laying eggs.

Nevertheless, Mexican milk snakes mate during the spring season after brumation has been completed. Milk snake mating behavior includes hot pursuit of the female by the male from one place to another, and repeated tail jerking and tongue flicking. Finally, during the egg-laying season the mother lays about 5 to 10 eggs after 50 days of copulation and incubation.

Mexican Milk Snake: Can They Be Domesticated?

Why Should People Domesticate Mexican Milk Snake

Source: @kingsnake_king


Mexican milk snakes are superbly beautiful, small in size, and quite gentle natured. They are non-venomous colubrid snakes that do have small teeth but their bites do not send people to the hospital. A 20-gallon terrarium  or enclosure would be perfect for a Mexican milk snake. Make sure that there is a screen to go on the top because the snakes could be restless and escape. Certain captive-breds have been found to be springy and fidgety.

For substrate, you can use sand, soil, even crumpled-up newspaper sheets. Aspen wood chips or cypress mulch could be more effective alternatives if you find them available. Temperatures must be maintained between 78 and 85℉, and the warmer spot could be at 90℉. Basking lamps could be installed and do not forget to provide a large water bowl for them to soak their bodies into especially during the brumation season.

What Other Milk Snakes Live In Mexico?

Plenty of milk snakes have found a comfortable home at the foothills and along valleys, and deep within the forests of Mexico and Texas. Some other milk snake subspecies that can be spotted in Mexico are the Pueblan milk snake and the Sinaloan milk snake. Milk snakes are quite adaptive by nature so they have no trouble fitting in the arid climate of Mexico and Texas.

Pueblan milk snakes have wider white bands than black or red bands, and black overlaps the red bands frequently. In addition to this, the red of Pueblans is to die for– it is vibrant and extremely eye-catching. On the contrary, the Sinaloan milk snakes have wider red bands than white or black bands. They are found in Puebla and Sinaloa regions of Mexico.


The montane forests, dry deserts, and sparkling waters of Mexican and Texan zones not only fill your heart with joy, but are also a home to a large population of plants and animals. Lizards, serpents, rodents, other mammals and birds, scuttle, wiggle and fly about the terrains all day!

Mexican milk snakes are a part of this rich biodiversity. They are survivors and use their multi purpose skills to adapt to the harsh weather conditions of the places mentioned. It is owing to their adaptive nature and cute personality that they are also a popular pet. These critters are paramount in maintaining a balance in the ecosystem and must be cared for and preserved.

Hello snake lovers! I’m David Mifsud and Snake Insider is my latest project with a vision of spreading reptile awareness to every single netizen. I’ll be introducing some of the most unexplored territories in the world of snakes to broaden the horizon of knowledge for the readers. My personal motto is to get as close to the snakes in nature without disrupting the balance and gather information as well as habitation patterns. It can be later on utilized in order to build a safe and healthy environment for every species of snakes. So stick around with us and I’m sure we won’t disappoint you!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top