The milk snake looks very impressive and extravagant. The brightness of her colors is simply mesmerizing. No wonder it is considered one of the most beautiful snakes in the world. Among terrariumists, this snake lady is incredibly popular, because she is unpretentious in content, and outwardly very elegant and can become an adornment of any terrarium. Let’s find out if this reptile is dangerous, if its temper is aggressive, why does it have such a noticeable and rich coloring?
Origin of the species and description
The milk snake is also called the king snake, or the striated king snake. This reptile is non-venomous and belongs to the family of already-shaped. It would seem that all her attractive appearance screams that she is very dangerous and poisonous, but this is just a clever deception, which is the clearest example of mimicry.
Interesting fact: Harmless the milk snake deftly imitates the poisonous and dangerous coral asp, outwardly they are strikingly similar, although they belong to completely different families. Apparently, the already shaped reptile uses this feature for self-defense.
There are 8 varieties of milk (royal) snakes and a large number of subspecies that differ in their original and bright colors.
Different species and subspecies of milk snakes have amazing, unusual, rich colors:
Because of their fashionable and attractive attire, milk snake persons look like real masterpieces, pleasing to the eye and uplifting. Only one intriguing question arises: “Why is this reptile called dairy?”. The explanation for this is quite interesting.
Video: Milk Snake
In those territories where royal snakes settled, cows began to lose milk. Farmers have suggested that someone absorbs it directly from the udder. Noticing this bright reptile in the pastures, they considered it the culprit in the loss of milk, although direct evidence of this was not found. That’s why they called this milk snake.
Interesting fact: Many people think that the king snake really loves milk, but it is not. Of course, if you deprive the reptile of water, she can drink milk, but this product will only upset her stomach.
Appearance and features
The length of a milk reptile can reach one and a half meters, but more often they are half a meter in size. As already mentioned, the main feature of their external data is extravagant rich colors. In different subspecies, it may differ, but red, white, yellow, black colors predominate. Consider the external characteristics of milk snakes, describing some of the most famous varieties.
A beautiful royal snake reaches a length of one meter. The head of the reptile is slightly compressed on the sides, therefore it has an oblong shape, large snake eyes are clearly visible on it. The body of the snake person is massive and slender, has a fawn or brownish tint, the general tone is decorated with reddish-brown spots of a rectangular shape.
The Arizona king snake grows no more than a meter in length. Her black head is slightly rounded, and an elegant pattern is visible on a miniature slender body, which is a combination of red, black, yellow or white stripes. The mountain royal snake is slightly larger than the previous ones, it has a one and a half meter length. The body of the reptile is powerful and strong, and the head in the shape of a triangle can be black, dark gray or steel. The pattern on the body of this snake has a gray-orange color scheme.
The Mexican king snake is perhaps the largest of all described. Her two-meter torso looks very slender, but strong and powerful. The head is elongated, because compresses laterally. The main tone of the body is reddish-brown, and the pattern on it is red and black-yellow, having the form of stripes. Of course, there are other varieties of king or milk snakes that are well studied. All of them are distinguished by their extraordinary and eye-catching color, so many people want to have such charming and harmless pets in their terrarium.
Where does the milk snake live?
The area of distribution of milk snakes is quite extensive, it occupies about six thousand square kilometers. Most often, these snake representatives have a permanent residence permit in the vastness of Canada, the USA and South America.
The area of u200bu200btheir settlement occupies the territory of:
- Texas ;
Milk snakes inhabit various landscapes, they can be found in mountain ranges (at a low altitude of about 350 meters, although some live much higher), they also inhabit forest thickets, wetlands, desert areas and prairies. For their living, snakes choose rocky crevices, depressions under boulders, fallen rotten trees, all of them serve as reliable and secluded shelters for them during the daytime, because they begin to be active at dusk, when they go hunting.
They are fond of milk snakes and coniferous forests, they are found in coastal marine areas. They endure intense heat with difficulty, so they leave their lair only at night looking, preferring ground movement. So, the royal (milk) already-shaped snake can be safely called a typical American, because it has inhabited both North, Central and South America.
Now we know where the milk snake lives. Let’s see what the king snakes eat.
What does a milk snake eat?
The milk snake menu, for the most part, consists of all kinds of rodents (rats and mice). She goes hunting at dusk. They eat reptiles and various lizards, birds nesting low from the ground or right on it. Some subspecies of king snakes eat only lizards, so it is difficult to keep them in terrariums.
The milk snake person will not disdain such a snack as an ordinary frog. They eat royal reptiles and other snakes, even very poisonous ones, because. their body is designed in such a way that it does not perceive the poisonous toxin of their own snake relatives, therefore they absorb other reptiles with great pleasure and without much fear.
An interesting fact: Cases are known and recorded when royal (milk) snakes successfully consumed extremely poisonous rattlesnakes.
It has been observed that the hunting process itself, and then the pursuit of potential prey, bring great pleasure to milk snakes. They enthusiastically spend time hunting down their prey for hours. These reptiles are not prone to overeating, one swallowed victim is enough for them for a couple of days.
The diet of snakes kept in captivity consists of rats, hamsters, mice, chickens, lizards. Typically, a reptile consumes no more than three food objects in a weekly period. After a meal, it is better not to disturb the creeping one for three days, so that she does not burp what she has eaten. During the process of eating, it is also better not to interfere with the snake person.
Interesting fact: Mature milk snakes tend to have such an unpleasant phenomenon as cannibalism.
Character and lifestyle features
The milk reptile does not possess poisonousness, but it itself is not afraid of poisonous snakes, because its body is endowed with immunity to their dangerous toxins. The reptile begins to be active at dusk. She does not tolerate intense heat, so she hides in her shelters, hiding from the scorching heat. For a person, this creeping person is completely safe, but is only an object of admiration, thanks to her catchy festive attire.
People have noticed that the milk snake often visits farmsteads, she climbs into barns to hunt rodents, which is very scary for livestock. Maybe cows lose milk from fear, and people accuse the snake of sucking it straight from the udder.
If we talk about the nature of these beautiful snakes, then terrariumists assure that they are very peaceful, safe and very curious. Reptiles quickly get used to and perfectly contact with a person. They do not like to be held tightly, holding down movement, and disturbed after a meal. Reptiles are not very whimsical in keeping, and even novice snake lovers will be able to cope with this task.
It is necessary to take into account the fact that they eat their own kind, so you need to keep snakes one by one, and during the mating season, carefully monitor the snake pair. There were no attacks of aggression towards humans among milk snakes.
Social structure and reproduction
Milk snakes become sexually mature closer to the age of three, sometimes a little earlier. Their wedding season begins in the spring. These reptiles are oviparous, so in the summer the female is preparing to lay eggs. To do this, she is looking for a hidden and reliable place. The main condition for it is dryness. The laying is settled in fallen trees, under dry foliage, in sandy soil.
The number of eggs laid can reach 16 pieces, but usually there are from 6 to 9. After about a couple of months, the kites begin to hatch. From birth, they are very independent, quirky and completely similar in color to their parents. The body length of babies reaches 19 cm.
Interesting fact: Milk snakes continue to grow throughout their lives.
The menu of newly born snakes is identical to the diet of mature individuals, only they choose prey of much smaller dimensions, with pleasure eating chicks of small birds, newborn mice, and small snails. In a terrarium, milk snakes can also reproduce perfectly, only young animals must be kept apart from mature reptiles, not forgetting about their manifestations of cannibalism.
Under natural conditions, the life expectancy of a milk snake rarely exceeds a fifteen-year boundary, usually reptiles do not even reach ten. In captivity, they can live all twenty, because the environment is favorable and there are no dangerous factors.
Natural enemies of milk snakes
Although the royal (milk) snake is not considered dangerous, it has a very weak poison (like the copperhead), which does not pose any threat to humans, it also does not work on large animals, but can have a slight paralyzing effect on small rodents and reptiles, which the reptile feeds on. This elegant snake lady in nature has many ill-wishers who are not averse to having a bite to eat creeping.
Among them are:
- secretary birds;
It is not for nothing that the milky reptile is painted in such a catchy color, all this was invented by nature in order to protect itself, because the bright color considered a warning, it symbolizes poisonousness and danger. This phenomenon is called mimicry, i.e. imitation. In this case, the non-venomous king snake mimics the most dangerous coral snake.
Their colors are very similar, only the asp does not have white stripes on the body (they are always yellow). The Mexican variety of the royal reptile has exactly the same color scheme as the coral asp, its stripes are yellow, so only an experienced herpetologist can distinguish these reptiles from each other. Many animals do not take risks and bypass the milk snake, considering it dangerous and extremely poisonous.
An interesting fact: the Americans even composed a poem (rhyme) about the similarity of the coral asp and the milk snake. Here is a rough translation: “Red and yellow – and suddenly you are killed, Red and black – Jack has a friend!”
Population and view status
The distribution area of milk snakes occupied all of America, both North and South. This genus of snakes includes many species and a huge number of subspecies. Most of them have not been studied at all. Regarding the population of royal (milk) reptiles, there is no evidence that their population has critically decreased or has declined significantly.
Of course, many negative factors affect the number of snakes. Basically, the main reason for the negative is a person who occupies more and more land for his own needs, displacing creeping people from their settled places of deployment. Do not forget about the beauty of these snakes, due to which they are often caught for further resale. In the vast majority of the habitats of these creeps, the authorities do not take any prohibitions and restrictive measures regarding trapping and trade.
Some conservation organizations have expressed concern about the California version of the king snake, they believe that its population has decreased in recent times. But the IUCN does not confirm these data and does not include the Californian reptile on its Red List, considering it the least threatened species.
So, we can assume that the population of milk snakes remains stable, although some negative trends can be traced. Under special protection, this genus of reptiles is not. Apparently, due to the fact that snakes can successfully breed in captivity, they avoided a strong decline in their numbers in the wild, while maintaining the stability of their livestock.
In the end, I would like to add that Mother Nature never ceases to amaze us , striking with a variety of forms, saturation of colors and natural beauty. The milk snake, just, is such an amazing and attractive creature. Creeping captivates with its clear pattern and incredible extravagance. Her fashionable outfit can compete with any impressive image of even the most famous fashion designer.