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The Milksnake belongs to the Colubridae family.
These snakes can be found mostly in the central United States.
Size and Longevity:
Milksnakes can grow to be 4 to 6 feet long depending on the amount of food available to them. Their average life span is about 15 to 20 years but can live up to almost 25 years in captivity.
The Milksnake does well in captivity, is generally very tame, and can make a good beginner snake. Like most snakes, Milksnakes are nocturnal, hiding during the day time and coming out mostly at night.
Habitat and Cage:
Baby Milksnakes do not need much space, but they do require more room as they grow. The general rule is that the enclosure should be no less than two-thirds of the snakes full length. A 10 or 20 gallon aquarium is a good size for this snake throughout it’s life span.
Some type of substrate needs to be provided, which is generally aspen shavings or newspaper. Never use any type of pine in the enclosure because the oils from pine are toxic to snakes. The terrarium should be set up so there is a hot end (80°-85°F) and cool end (70°-75°F). The temperature should not be allowed to drop below 70°F or be raised above 90°F at any time. There should be a hiding spot in both temperature zones for the snake’s comfort. Not providing adequate hiding areas can lead to stress which can cause health problems and a shorter life span.
Milksnakes live in a warm and semi-humid environment; therefore their cages should imitate this environment. The humidity should be kept near 50% and can be raised to 70% during the shedding period, but for no longer than one week. A water bowl big enough for the snake to coil inside of must be provided. The water is necessary for the snake’s survival and will help maintain the humidity of the enclosure.
These snakes do not need any special lighting, but they will need approximately 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness each day to simulate their natural environment. Almost any type of light will work including a regular light bulb or the natural light.
Young Milksnakes need to eat once every 7 to 10 days while adults only need to eat once every 14 days. Over feeding (power feeding) can lead to long term health problems and a shorter life span. Food sources include pinkies (baby mice) for the young Milksnakes, and fuzzies (adolescent mice) and adult mice for adult Milksnakes. The meal provided should be approximately the size of the largest part of the snake’s body or a little bit bigger. During a shed cycle a snake may refuse to eat, but once the shed cycle is over the snake should go back to eating normally.
Handling a snake too soon after eating can induce regurgitation so handling the snake is not recommended for at least 2 days. It takes approximately 4 to 6 days to completely digest food depending on the size of the prey and the temperature of the enclosure. Milksnakes are easy to pick up with little or no resistance. Handling snakes gently and frequently have a big role in keeping them from becoming aggressive.