Fun and easy-going pets! Does it ring any bells with you?
Snakes are popular among pet trade, as they are mostly gentle and docile. Eastern milk snakes are well known among reptile keepers. This is because they are easy to maintain while in captivity. Let’s read to find out more about these reptiles.
Eastern milk snakes belong to the subspecies of Lampropeltis triangulum. They are colubrid and non-poisonous. Mostly found in the central and eastern parts of North America and Canada. Milk snakes thrive well on both human-made and natural habitats.
These include rocky hillsides, grasslands, pine, and deciduous forests, meadows, and farmlands. They need sufficient cover for laying eggs, hibernating, and thermoregulation.
Let’s explore more to find out how to keep these guys safe and healthy!
On average, they grow up to 24 – 36” (60 – 91 cm) in length. Some enormous species grow to a size of 52 inches. Usually, females are shorter than the male species. The adult specimens weigh around 1 – 3 pounds. They are slender in size, and their heads are quite wide compared to their necks.
Similar to most species, they are captive bred for the pet industry. In captivity, they have a lifespan that ranges from 12 – 20 years.
Milk snakes are tan or gray shaded with huge reddish-brown blotches edged in black. Few smaller blotches run along the sides in rows. A pattern of white and black checks as present on their belly. As for the skin, it’s shiny and smooth with scales. The appearance of this species can confuse you with corn snake specimens.
Wooden vivariums are the best enclosures for milk snakes. As its an excellent heat insulator, it’s can control the temperature variation within the housing. Make sure that the wooden cabinets have sufficient ventilation for the air to flow inside freely.
Young ones require a cage size of 10 gallons. Adult species need an enclosure of 20 – 70 gallons. On average, it’s advisable to maintain a length of 34” as they quickly grew in length. These reptiles are great escape creatures. So make sure that the screen top is secure at all times. Never keep more than one snake together as they can turn cannibalistic.
Dry substrates are an excellent option for this species to avoid the build-up of humidity in the cage. Avoid losing substrates as they might be accidentally swallowed. Coarse beech woodchips or Zoo Med Aspen Snake Bedding are the best options. It’s safer to place babies on paper towels or soft items until they grow into juveniles.
They have an affinity to climb on things to check their surroundings, though they aren’t arboreal reptiles. You can decorate the enclosure with wooden frameworks or artificial plants to help them climb. Having a hiding spot will help them to thermoregulate and move freely without any insecure feeling.
Temperature, Heat, and Lighting
Just like every other reptile, milk snakes also require a thermal gradient. During the daytime, they need a warm basking spot. This is possible by placing a bright spot bulb at one corner of the enclosure. The basking temperature needs to be between 85 – 90°F. Or else it can be detrimental to their wellbeing. For this, you can use a basking light of 40 W in a 3 ft cage.
During night time, they need daughter darkness with a drop in temperature levels. You can switch off the basking light at night. Maintain 80°F at night by using ceramic heat emitters or heat mats.
These heating items release heat without radiating any light. By using a thermostat, you can control the temperature of the heat mat. Monitor the temperature in the enclosure using the thermometer daily.
Milk snakes usually feed on rats and mice. Based on the girth of the reptile, the size of the prey varies. Make sure that you do not feed them with anything larger than the thickest area of their body. You will find that the prey item leaves a noticeable lump in their belly. This is a common sight for most species.
Hatchlings are mostly fed every five days. As for the adult creatures, you can feed them every 10 days. Some pet keepers feed the adult species only once in two weeks as they become overweight.
Pre killed frozen prey or live prey can seem to be a question. Options may vary, but thawed frozen mice are the best choice.
Thawed rodents are easier to feed and less expensive. Also, you can buy them in bulk and store them in your cooler. More significantly, it is safer for your reptile as they won’t hurt your pet for defensive reasons.
It’s essential to give high-quality prey coated with vitamin supplements. Calcium powders and vitamins are necessary for their overall health.
Place a large water bowl in the cool end of the housing. Make sure that the container is big enough for them to soak themselves. However, they shouldn’t be too large that they will find it difficult to get out. Clean and refill the water daily to avoid microbes from growing.
Planning to keep a male and female specimen together for breeding? They will breed naturally. You don’t have to do anything provided they are in good condition and healthy. What will you do after incubating the eggs and the babies are born? Well, you need to plan well if you are ready for a set of hatchlings.
For laying eggs, an expectant female must have a comfortable nesting case. The box has to be large enough for her to turn around quickly while inside. Place a sufficient quantity of most inside to keep it humid and in a moist condition.
Incubate the eggs using an incubator at a temperature of 84°F. The eggs are usually incubated in sealed containers with moist substrates like Hatchrite. This helps in trapping the eggs with a sufficient amount of humidity. After 60 days, the eggs start hatching. The first set of babies that emerge will promote the other eggs to hatch as well.
Gather as much information as possible before you get this species home. This will not only keep you safe but also your pet. For more queries and information, feel free to get in touch with us.