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Pueblan Milk Snake Care Sheets
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Care Sheet for Milk Snakes

Average Rating Given To This Care Sheet Is 4.20    (1=lowest, 5=highest)    Last Updated: 10/01/2009

Main Category:

Snakes

Sub Category:

Milk Snakes

 Care Sheet Submitted By:

ReptileJay

Years Experience:

Over 20 Years

Species:

Pueblan Milk Snake

Other Species or Phases this Care Sheet May Cover:

Honduran Milk Snake

Sexing and Characteristics:

The only way to sex them is to either pop them, only when they are very young, or probe them. Neither should be attempted. Have the snake sexed from the breeder, or find a vet that deals with herps. Probing or popping a snake without knowing what you are doing can lead to serious injury and death of the snake.

Mostly Active During:

Day

Substrate and Water Needs:

The best option is Aspen Shavings. You can get this at any pet store, and it has a picture of a milk snake right on the front of the bag. If you want to go cheaper, but less aesthetically pleasing, lay down a couple layers of newspaper, and then placed shredded newspaper over that for the snake to burrow through. These snakes will burrow tunnels all over the cage, from one hiding spot to the next. With newspaper, it is easy to just throw away when it is soiled. With Aspen shavings, as long as you spot check for feces very well, every week, you shouldn’t have to change it but once every two to three months. Just make sure it doesn’t smell bad. If you notice a foul odor, immediately dump out the old substrate. Whenever you change substrate, make sure to disinfect and clean the cage. Never ever use pine or cedar with any reptile. It has toxins that can kill your snake. Leave that stuff for hamsters.
A bowl of water on the cool side of the cage is adequate. Make sure it is big enough for the snake to fit its entire body into. This will help when it’s time to shed, and they like to crawl around the rim of the bowl to drink.

Lighting and UVB:

No UVB is necessary. You can provide a light during the daytime for your pleasure if you like, but its not necessary for the snake. If you do use a light, make sure you keep a strict day/night schedule with the snake. I have all my lights on timers so I can’t screw it up. I give all my reptiles 13 hours of daylight. (From 8a.m. to 9p.m.) This is equivalent to a normal equatorial summer day. Since these snakes are found in Central and South America, this is perfect for them.

Temperatures and Humidity:

Temperatures should be somewhere between 83-88 degrees F. There should be a hot spot between 90-95 degrees F. The best way to achieve these temps is to use an Under the Tank heater. I use zilla brand, but whichever you want, make sure its designed for reptiles. Don’t try and use a home heating pad. They usually have safety shut offs and you don’t want to leave your snake in the cold. The under the tank heater should take up about 1/3 of the cage. Place a hide with an open bottom on the hot side of the cage, and the internal temp of the hide will be about 90-95 degrees. Too easy. If you want to use a light to heat, you can. A simple 60-70 watt bulb in a dome fixture on top of the tank will also give you these temps. The problem comes when you have to deal with night-time temps. Ceramic bulbs tend to get the temps too hot in smaller enclosures. You can use black, blue, or red bulbs for night time heat. I don’t use them, but I know a lot of people who do, and say they do a good job. Never use hot rocks. These can cause burns to any reptile, and they don’t heat evenly. I don’t even know why they sell them. Under the tank heaters are the perfect choice. They will keep your warm side above 85 degrees, and keep the cool side around 80. It is ok for night time temps to drop into the 70’s. These snakes need no extra humidity. The humidity in your house should be fine. There can be problems when it comes to shedding. This is easy to fix. When you notice your snake is shedding, simply place him in a deli cup, or brown paper bag with some warm damp paper towels. Allow him to sit in there for a couple hours every couple of days until he is done shedding. Usually this isn’t necessary, but every once in a while, they will have problems shedding, and this is a simple fix.

Heating and Equipment:

As stated above, the under the tank heaters are the best. These can also be hooked up to thermostats, to guarantee it doesn’t get to hot. Unnecessary in my opinion, but if you want you can use them. A light bulb will also work, just keep it on one side of the cage, and switch to a blue, black, or red bulb for night-time.
Keep a stick in the cage with your snake. Buy them at your local herp or pet shop. Don’t grab one off the tree; you don’t know what parasites are attached to it. The stick will give your snake something to rub against to aid in shedding, and they will also climb on them, and hide under them. Provide a hide on the hot side. I use store bought ones, but you can use just about anything, including tissue boxes.

Caging Provided:

Juveniles are best kept in ten gallon aquariums with a screen top. Cheap plaster totes with locking lids can be used as well. A twenty gallon aquarium or critter cage is perfect for adult milk snakes. Remember, all snakes are escape artists, and milk snakes may be the best at it. I use aquarium tubing hot glued to the inside of two ledges of the screen top, and aquarium lid clips for extra security. The aquarium tubing makes the lid fit nice and tight, and takes away any holes the snake may be able to squeeze through. Your milk snake can fit into tight spaces that you wouldn’t think possible. If it gets out, you’re probably not going to find it again. I always provide a stick for the snake to climb on, hide under, and use for a shedding aid. I also put a water dish on the cool side, and a hide on the hot side. Some say you need a hide on both sides, but this is a waste of money and time. Milk snakes will burrow, and they will be happy to hide under their substrate, water dishes, and sticks all day long.

Diet:

Carnivorous

Description of Diet:

Milk snakes will eat mice their entire life. Juveniles can be started on pinkie mice and will move up slowly to fuzzies, hoppers, and then adults. Just feed the a mouse approximately the same size as the thickest part of your snake. As juveniles, they will eat every 3-5 days, as they are growing quite a bit. When they get older, they will require one appropriate sized mouse every 7-10 days. I feed all my snakes, except my green tree python, frozen/thawed mice. You can thaw them on the counter, or in a cup of hot water for a few minutes. I use tongs with most, but my apricot pueblan milk snake will just eat the ones i lay in the cage. Find out if your snake has been raised on live or frozen. If pre-killed or frozen, find out if the breeder used tongs or just left the snake alone with it. This will tell you what you have to do. If you’re snake won’t eat, you can scent the mouse. Pinkies can be brained (taking a toothpick to the head of the pinkie and exposing the brain matter to increase scent. I know its gross, but it works.) or you can dip the pinkie in chicken broth, raw egg, or tuna fish. These should get it to eat. Adult mice can be scented with chicken broth, egg, or tuna as well. You can also scent them with lizard.

Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:

None

Maintenance:

As stated above. Spot clean the cage often, and sniff for foul odors. If using aspen shavings, this will do for two to three months. If using shredded newspaper, this should be changed weekly. Disinfect the cage anytime you change the substrate, because, hey, what better time to do it. Clean water dishes, hides, and sticks every week. Change water every one to two days. I think its unnecessary to change the water daily, but its probably the best bet. I change all water dishes every two days. Check your heat sources often to ensure they are working and check temperatures daily to make sure everything is kosher.

Some Words on this Species:

These are fantastic snakes that come in a wide array of colors that appeal to anyone. I think they are the perfect beginner snake. They come in beautiful colors, they don’t get any bigger than 4-5 feet, and stay pretty slim. You never have to buy them rats or rabbits or any other strange prey, so that’s awesome. They are feisty as juveniles, but will calm down with age and regular handling. They take about two - three years to reach full size, and once they do, they are a wonderful snake to handle, usually being content to just wind around your hand. I have two now, and love them. I have had several over my life and they always do great and live a long time. I’ve never had one die on me either. I actually had to give my others away when I joined the army. They are a hardy snake and will give you enjoyment for many many years.
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DISCLAIMER:
The information contain in these care sheets represents only the opinions and husbandry care of members and therefore is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate or reflects the advice or opinions of RepticZone.com. It is always advised to seek additional information or the advice of a qualified veterinarian or qualified reptile dealer. It is also advisable for you to a good amount of research before implementing any of the ideas and care described in these care sheets. We also recommend you ask many questions in their related forums before acting on any information.

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