Eastern Milksnakes range from light brown to gray, and they have black-edged, red to reddish-brown blotches down the back. They have a black and white checkered pattern on their belly. These moderately-sized snakes have smooth scales and a single anal plate. 


Milksnakes are on average 2 to 2.5 feet in total length, although large adults may exceed 3 feet.

Habitat / Range: 

Eastern Milksnakes are found throughout Kentucky. They can be found in open habitats, such as agricultural fields and meadows, as well as forests and forest edges.  In the Outer and Inner Bluegrass Regions, Eastern Milksnakes favor debris piles around barns. 

Natural History: 

Milksnakes mate in the spring, although some individuals also breed in the fall and store sperm to fertilize eggs the following spring. Eggs are deposited in early summer, and hatchlings are conspicuous in early fall. Adult Milksnakes feed mainly on rodents.

Notes / Miscellaneous: 

Eastern Milksnakes are nonvenomous, although they will vibrate their tails, release musk, strike and bite if harassed.  Because of their common occurrence within barns, many people believe that Milksnakes suck milk from cows (hence the common name “Milksnake”). However, this is a myth. Snakes (and all reptiles) cannot digest lactose, and we doubt cows would tolerate being milked by a snake.

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