A Hillbilly Guide to Snakes: Mexican Milk Snake
Lampropeltis Triangulum Annulata... The Mexican Milk Snake
Often mistaken as a coral snake, the Mexican milk snake is a harmless member of the kingsnake family that is actually immune to some venomous snakes.
'Black to red, friendly Fred.
Red to yellow, killing fellow.'
That is the saying I grew up hearing in regard to milk snakes and coral snakes. There are a ton of variations of that old saying, but they all refer to the same thing. Harmless milk snakes look very similar to venomous coral snakes and boast the same colors. However they are slightly different. The milk snake's color pattern goes black to yellow, yellow to black, black to red. The coral snake on the other hand goes black to yellow, yellow to red, red to yellow, yellow to black. To put this more simply, the milk snake's red touches black, while on the coral snake the red touches yellow.
The Mexican milk snake usually has a black head. The color pattern starts right at the neck with small yellow bands, followed by short black bands, then large red bands.
Adult Mexican milk snakes average between 25 and 30 inches in length.
Is the snake pictured above a Mexican milk snake or a coral snake? Answers at the bottom.
Appropriate to it's name, the Mexican milk snake is native to north eastern Mexico and southern to central Texas.
Mexican milk snakes are typically creatures of the night and generally remain in hiding throughout the day. They can be found in arid prairies, grasslands, and brushy areas.
Mexican milk snakes primarily eat rodents and lizards, but will eat other snakes, frogs, or take advantage of other food opportunities that present themselves. Members of the kingsnake family aren't known for being picky eaters, but in the case of the Mexican milk snake their habitat most likely provides them more encounters with rodents and lizards. Like other members of the kingsnake family, Mexican milk snakes are immune to the venom of local pit vipers. In other words a Mexican milk snake can eat a rattlesnake without having to fear it's venom.
Is the snake pictured above a Mexican milk snake or a coral snake? Answers at the bottom
Interactions With Humans
Mexican milk snakes are known for being fairly docile even out in the wild. When threatened however they may release a smelly musk to scare predators away, or may bite if they feel their life is in danger. That said they are known as one of the more unlikely kingsnake species to behave this way.
They are also known for acclimating to captivity fairly easily, and are a common snake in the pet trade.
Question 1: Coral Snake... Red to yellow, killing fellow.
Question 2: Mexican Milk Snake... Black to red, friendly Fred.
Feel free to leave your results and/or why you decided on them in the comments section below!