lampropeltis triangulum (nelsoni)
Squamata (amphisbaenians, lizards and snakes)
HABITAT AND RANGE
Milk snakes have one of the widest geographical distribution of any snake. They can be found anywhere east of the Rockies, from Central America to southern Canada. Although they prefer woodland habitats, they can thrive in semi arid areas, prairies, rocky and moderately mountainous areas and even marshes and wetlands.
Milk snakes come in a variety of color morphs so there are many subspecies (25 known) due to geographical distribution and the presence of other snakes in the area. Milk snakes are a species of king snake. Nelson’s milk snakes have thin black bands on either side of wide red bands and narrow cream bands. This color scheme closely resembles the coral snake whose coloration has narrow cream bands with alternating thick black and red bands. Milk snakes grow, on average to lengths of 60-130 cm.
Milk snakes primarily feed on small rodents but can also feed on small birds, lizards, eggs, and other snakes. They are king snakes so they possess the ability to consume venomous snakes including the coral snakes they seek to mimic.
REPRODUCTION AND LIFESPAN
Sexual maturity is reach at 2 years. Mating season is in late spring and early summer. Females lay up to 10 eggs per clutch which take 28-38 days to hatch. Hatchlings generally measure 14-28 cm long. Milk snakes choose warm and humid nest sites. Lifespan is generally 15-20 years but this figure is based on captive snakes.
Milk snakes are a classical example of Batesian mimicry. This form of mimicry is when a non-poisonous or non-venomous animal seeks to resemble a poisonous animal. Milk snakes are very similar in appearance to coral snakes but the color morph varies by geographical location and the color morphs of the local venomous snakes. Obviously this strategy only works if the mimic inhabits the same area as a poisonous animal.