Red Milksnake

Red Milksnake         Lampropeltis syspila

Type of Animal:

Forests, forest edges, open woodlands, prairies, grasslands, areas near streams/rivers, savanna, rocky hillsides, agricultural areas, suburbs, fields, barns, rocky areas, rocky woodland clearings, rocky pastures, meadows, burrows

Found from S Indiana through NW Mississippi, W Kentucky, & SE S Dakota through E Oklahoma & Kansas. Isolated population in NW Alabama.

Red ground color, dorsal color pattern narrow bands of white, pale gray, cream, or tan bordered by black, alternating w/ red dorsal saddles, white belly w/ black checkered pattern, large red blotch w/ black edge on head

Small mammals, birds, eggs, lizards, other snakes (including own species & venomous species), young turtles, slugs, insects, earthworms, amphibians, fish

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, wildlife centers, & herpetoculture


Additional Info:


Male-1 lb
Female-2 lbs

2 months 

Life Span:
15-20 years

Body Length:
Male-1.75 ft
Female-2.3 ft
Young-8.5 in

Tail Length:
8 in

Main predators are larger snakes, snapping turtles, bobcats, foxes, coyotes, raptors, corvids, raccoons, skunks, opossums, weasels, badgers, cats, dogs, otters, bears, & bullfrogs.

Sexually mature at 1.5 years.

Kills prey by constriction.

They sometimes musk and/or bite if agitated/cornered but usually non-aggressive.

They’re valuable since they eat rodents & venomous snakes.

Young individuals more jumpy than adults.

They’re usually nocturnal but sometimes come out during the day in cooler weather.

Hibernates in winter, usually in burrows or rocky areas.

Females lay 2-20 eggs per clutch.

Fun Fact(s):
They can make good pets.

Called milk snakes due to false belief they drank milk from cow udders, due to being seen in barns & stables.

They look very similar to highly venomous coral snakes & sometimes killed for this reason. One poem often used-red on yellow kills a fellow (coral snake), red on black friend of Jack (milk snake).

3 thoughts on “Red Milksnake

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