Nocturnal and secretive, the Eastern milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum Triangulum) is encountered frequently throughout Ohio. It has reddish-brown, black-bordered blotches on its back and usually sports a Y- or V-shaped patch on its neck. The Eastern milksnake is not venomous and poses no significant threat to humans, its teeth barely able to pierce human skin.
The Eastern milksnake can be found in woods, meadows, river bottoms, farms and even cities. The milksnake gets its name from the myth that, at night, they enter barns and "suck" milk from cows. This is because they are often found in barns hunting rodents. However, they do not have the ability to "suck" milk or anything else.
The milksnake is a true constrictor, relying on its muscular coils to strangulate its prey. It is beneficial around a farm because of its diet of mice and other small rodents. Other parts of its diet include birds, lizards and snakes (including venomous snakes).
Adults reach a length of 24 to 36 inches. During the milksnakes’ April-through-June breeding season, females will lay two to 17 eggs that hatch into brightly-colored offspring after a gestation period of 28 to 39 days. As a juvenile milksnake ages, its color will dull. Milksnakes have a life expectancy of 11 years.
- “Eastern Milksnake.” Eastern Milksnake. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, n.d. Web 17 Oct. 2015. < http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/species-and-habitats/species-guide-index/reptiles/eastern-milksnake>