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Red Milk Snake Lampropeltis triangulum syspila


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Red Milk Snake
credit: Mike Pingleton/CCSA

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Family: Colubridae, Colubrid Snakes view all from this family

Description 21-42" (53-106.7 cm). A red (or orange), black, and yellow (to white) snake; pattern of black-bordered red blotches separated by yellow rings; often appears ringed in all three colors. Several side blotches may be present. Light neck collar. Black border of red bands extends to first scale rows. Scales smooth, in 19-23 rows. Anal plate single.

Habitat Diverse: pine forests, open deciduous woodland, meadows, rocky hillsides, farmland.

Range Nw. Mississippi west to ne. Oklahoma, north to sw. Indiana, c. Illinois, Iowa, and extreme se. South Dakota. Intergrades with Scarlet Kingsnake and Eastern Milk Snake from sc. Kentucky south to n. Alabama.

Discussion There are currently nine recognized subspecies of the Common Milk Snake. Some are dull gray with brownish blotches, while others, including the Red Milk Snake, Scarlet Kingsnake, and New Mexico Milk Snake, have a bright ringed pattern reminiscent of the venomous coral snakes. A major difference between coral snakes and their imitators is that the red and yellow rings meet on the coral snake, while in the milk snakes, the red and yellow rings are separated by black.