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Pueblan Milk Snake

Oliver Jones

August 3, 2021

The Pueblan Milk Snake is a non-venomous snake that is native to southern Mexico. They are beautifully colored snakes with a gorgeous striped body. For owners with a bit of experience, they are fairly easy to care for. Pueblans are one of 20 different species of milk snakes and are arguably the most attractive. All milk snakes have similar care requirements, though, so most of their requirements can be applied to other species.

Read on for more info and a basic care guide for these gorgeous reptiles.

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Quick Facts About Pueblan Milk Snake

Species Name: Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli
Common Name: Pueblan Milk Snake
Care Level: Moderate
Lifespan: 15-20 years
Adult Size: 24-48 inches
Diet: Mice
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Temperature & Humidity: 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit, 40-60%

Do Pueblan Milk Snakes Make Good Pets?

Pueblan Milk Snakes make great pets. They are active reptiles that can be fairly challenging to handle as juveniles, but with some taming, they grow out of this as adults. They are moderately sized and don’t need large enclosures. They are hardy reptiles that can be regularly handled and have long lifespans. They can thrive in various conditions and are ideal for beginners.

Pueblan Milk Snake and a tree bark
Image Credit: anythings, Shutterstock

Appearance

One of the reasons that these snakes are such popular pets is their gorgeous coloring. They are tri-banded snakes with repeating patterned bands of white, black, and red, with a slender body that rarely reaches more than 4 feet in length.

Selective breeding has resulted in unique morphs, but almost all morphs still have the tri-color banding, though some morphs have cream or yellow hues replacing the white bands.

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How to Take Care of Pueblan Milk Snakes

Caring for a Pueblan Milk Snake is relatively easy, though their tank conditions need to closely match the conditions of their natural environment. Overall, they are not difficult snakes to keep and are certainly not as high maintenance as some other snake species.

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

Tank

One of the best aspects of keeping one of these snakes is that they do not need a large enclosure to stay happy and healthy. Even the largest specimens do fine in a 20-30-gallon glass tank, but the bigger, the better. The tank needs to have adequate ventilation to prevent too much humidity, so a tightly fitting vented or mesh lid is ideal. A long tank is best because these snakes need a temperature gradient, with hiding spots on each side.

You’ll need to spot-clean the tank regularly — ideally, daily — and perform a thorough clean once a month or so. Take everything out of the tank, clean with antibacterial soap, and then rinse thoroughly.

Lighting

These snakes do not need any special lighting, but they do need to be exposed to a natural day/night cycle. Try to keep their tank close to a window but away from direct sunlight, or alternatively, have a light source setup with an automated day/night cycle.

Heating (Temperature & Humidity)

The ambient heat in your milk snake’s enclosure should stay at around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a hotspot of around 85 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a heat mat or heat lamp, as it will provide the necessary temperature gradient, but if you opt for a lamp, it needs to be turned off at night.

The normal humidity level of your home is ideal, with a maximum of around 60%. A well-ventilated tank should keep the humidity levels in check, but you should invest in a hygrometer to make sure humidity levels don’t get too low because this can cause shedding issues.

Substrate

Pueblan Milk Snakes can do well on various substrates, including aspen shavings, cypress mulch, bark, and newspaper. Just keep a close eye on the humidity because these substrates tend to hold moisture.

Tank Recommendations
Tank Type: 20-30-gallon glass vivarium
Lighting: N/A
Heating: Heating pad/tape on bottom of enclosure, heat lamp, graduated heating
Best Substrate: Aspen shavings

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Cypress mulch

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Feeding Your Pueblan Milk Snake

In the wild, Pueblan Milk Snakes are opportunistic eaters that will eat almost anything that they can fit into their mouth, including rodents, small mammals, and birds. In captivity, frozen-thawed rats and mice are ideal, and a medium-sized mouse once a week is great for adults. Juveniles can be fed pinky mice once or twice a week.

Diet Summary
Fruits: 0% of diet
Insects: 0% of diet
Meat: 100% of diet: small/medium-sized frozen-thawed rodents, pinkies for juveniles
Supplements Required: N/A

Keeping Your Pueblan Milk Snake Healthy

Pueblan Milk Snakes are healthy and hardy snakes in general and can have long lifespans in captivity, provided that their nutritional and environmental requirements are adequately met. There are no health issues specific to milk snakes, but they are susceptible to a few of the common issues that captive snakes in general can suffer from.

Common Health Issues

One of the most common issues with captive snakes is low humidity levels, a factor that can make shedding difficult. Too much humidity is also potentially disastrous because it can cause respiratory illnesses and inflammation in the mouth and nostrils. Bacterial and fungal infections can also be an issue in an unkempt environment, so make sure to clean their tank regularly.

Lifespan

In the wild, the exact lifespan of Pueblan Milk Snakes is largely unknown, although it is most likely no more than 10 years. They reach full maturity at 3-4 years old and can live for up to 20 years in captivity under the right conditions.

Breeding

Breeding of Pueblan Milk Snakes should be left to experienced breeders, as even discerning between males and females can be a real challenge for novices. That said, males and females placed in an enclosure will likely mate, but reducing temperatures gradually will help too. The eggs will need to be incubated on a damp substrate at 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Are Pueblan Milk Snakes Friendly? Our Handling Advice

Juvenile Milk Snakes can be skittish and difficult to handle, but as they mature, they become more docile. They are naturally shy and do not enjoy being held at first, so you’ll need to gradually tame them and earn their trust. They rarely bite but do have a unique defense mechanism: When they feel threatened, they release a pungent musk odor that is difficult to get rid of.

Handle them slowly, calmly, and in short bursts in the beginning, and you can then build this up over time. Your patience will be highly rewarded once you earn these beautiful reptile’s trust.

Shedding & Brumation: What to Expect

In the wild, Pueblan Milk Snakes generally go into brumation for 3-4 months, but it’s optional in captivity unless you intend on breeding. If you do decide to put them into brumation, make sure not to feed them 2-3 weeks before reducing the temperature, but make sure they have access to clean, fresh water.

These snakes will periodically shed their skin throughout their entire life. Hatchlings will shed as often as every 2 weeks, but mature adults will only shed two to three times a year as their growth rate is reduced.

How Much Do Pueblan Milk Snakes Cost?

Depending on the breeder and availability, Pueblan Milks snakes typically cost around $50-$80, so they are slightly more expensive than other commonly found pet snakes. Remember that you’ll need to factor in the cost of their housing, accessories, and feeding too.

Care Guide Summary

Pros
  • Docile nature
  • Beautiful appearance
  • Simple diet
  • Easy to care for
  • Hardy
Cons
  • Can be skittish
  • Takes time to tame
  • Does not enjoy handling

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Conclusion

The Pueblan Milk Snake is a gorgeous reptile with a unique appearance that is beautiful to look at. They are non-venomous and rarely bite, although they do release a pungent musk odor if they feel threatened. While these snakes are fine for beginners in terms of care, they can take time to tame and don’t enjoy being handled initially — you’ll need to earn their trust first.


Featured Image Credit: anythings, Shutterstock

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.