Crow’s Nest: Eastern Milk Snake

April 13, 2019

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

Under a tarp in the backyard at the preserve I found this beautiful Eastern milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum). Ours was not as colorful as the photos you’ll find online (that is a color photo above), but has the striking pattern you’d expect. Milk snakes are reclusive and not commonly seen but can be found in woodpiles in our area.

Some people mistake the nonvenomous milk snake for the venomous copperhead snake. Milk snakes have a distinct “V” or “U” pattern on the top of their head, and if you see the underside, the milk snake has a black and white checkerboard where the copperhead is a solid off-white. This one raised its head up enough to show off the underside.

Milk snakes eat mice and so provide a service on farms where mice can be abundant. I’ve had mice nibble holes in our cars’ fuel lines three times in the last couple years, so I’m pretty happy to know there’s a milk snake around.