Popular Exotic Pets – Milk Snake

Popular Exotic Pets – Milk Snake

Choosing a Exotic Pet: What You Need to Know About Milk Snakes

Milk Snakes are interesting pets, but there are many different things to consider when finding the newest member to your family, so how do you know that a Milk Snake is right for yours? Like any pet, a Milk Snake will require lots of love and care to help keep them healthy and well, so in this blog we are taking a look at Milk Snake, and what you can expect if you were to have a one as a pet.

Milk Snakes are a sub-species of King Snakes and grow from 51cm to 150cm long. They have smooth and shiny scales and their typical colour pattern is alternating bands of red-black-yellow or white-black-red. They come in a variety of colours depending on their subspecies; in addition, are constrictors, suffocating their prey before eating.


The average lifespan for a Milk Snake is 15 years, but they have been known to live to up 20.

Company for Milk Snakes

Cannibalism is normal for Milk Snakes; so never keep more than one per enclosure. Also, be sure to leave your snake alone in its new home for a few days before you start handling it.

Where Milk Snakes Like to Live

Your Snake should be kept in a very secure environment; they are known to test their space and find areas to escape from. A large vivarium is recommended for Milk Snakes with plenty of features. For example; branches, leaves, bark and rocks, while a box to hide in is a must.

Generally, your Milk Snake will need a temperature of about 24-30*C in their cage during the day, and 21-23*C at night.


Give your snake a couple of days to settle in before you stand handling it. Be gentle and persistent; with short sessions at first to build trust. It shouldn’t take too long for the snake to get comfortable and settle on your hand and arm. Remember, these snakes are constrictors so they may try to wrap themselves around you; therefore always unwrap them from the tail end.

Their level of exercise will depend on how large their enclosure is; if they have more room and areas to burrow or climb they are less likely to become obese; which can be a common problem for snakes.

Diet & Nutrition

Milk Snakes are strictly carnivorous; meaning they only eat meat; and prefer small rodents like mice and rats. Feed your snake every 4-5 days for juveniles, or every 7-10 days for full grown.

The Milk Snake, because of its secretive and coy nature, can often be a problem feeder. If the snake is stressed it will not eat; try to give it as many hiding places in its home as possible, to alleviate stress. Feed your snake small frozen mice that have been defrosted.

Frozen food is available from your local Petmania Store; however, because of its sensitive nature, it is not displayed on the shop floor; so please ask for assistance.


Make a bowl of fresh water available at all times. It will be used for drinking and sometimes for bathing. If the snake defecates in it, the bowl must be cleaned and disinfected.

Health & Hygiene

Milk Snakes are a tough species; so are generally quite resilient, and with a good diet and a routine will remain quite healthy.


As a reptile grows, its old skin become too tight; therefore a new skin awaits just below the old one. As a snake gets ready to shed, its body color will start to dull and develop a whitish sheen. To assure proper hydration, providing additional misting during the shedding process will help them along.


These are small black parasites that live on your Milk Snake and feed on their blood. If affected by mites, they will be visible around the eyes, mouth and under its scales. Symptoms will include lethargy and loss of appetite. If mites are discovered, bathe your Milk Snake immediately in warm water. Remove all the contents from the vivarium and full disinfect. Replace substrate with kitchen roll and keep furnishing to a minimum. You will need to use a mite treatment to rid the tank of all mites, and medical attention is recommended.

Respiratory Infections

Bacterial infections are typically caused by poor cage conditions, low temperatures or too much humidity; but they can also be transferred between snakes. Symptoms include a wheezy sound when breathing; excessive saliva, and nasal discharge. Mild infections will generally go away once living conditions are improved, but veterinary advise is recommended for serious infections. If you are concerned about your Snake’s health, our Pet Care Advisors are on hand to help, although veterinary attention may be recommended.


This may occur if your Milk Snake is handled too soon after eating, or if their food is too large; although it may also be a sign of digestive problems. If regurgitation occurs, monitor it closely for other symptoms. If your Snake repeatedly regurgitates it’s meal, shows signs of excessive weight loss or shows any other signs that are worrying; seek medical attention.

Cleaning the Habitat

Snakes generally require little cleaning as they rarely defecate. Remove faeces and soiled bedding as necessary; and if your snake defecates in its water bath, it should be disinfected straight away. A full deep clean every four weeks, with a mild disinfectant will ensure your Snake remains healthy.


Hand washing is very important when owning any reptile. Washing your hands before and after handling your Snake will help keep you and your pet healthy. If you wash your hands before handling you reduce the risk of passing anything on to your pet.


As with all reptiles, Milk Snakes have the potential to carry pathogens such as Salmonella; so children under five should not handle them and hands should be thoroughly washed before and after handling.

Health & Hygiene

A healthy Chameleon will have bright eyes, clear skin and be quite active. To help ensure the ongoing health and well-being of your Chameleon, it is important to provide her with a balanced diet, a carefully managed habitat and regular cleaning.
These are some of the more common health problems experienced by Chameleons:

Metabolic Bone Disease

A problem for many reptiles, MBD is caused from a lack of calcium and/or UVA/UVB lighting. Symptoms include a thickened jaw line and/or ankles, bumps along spine, poor colour, brittle/broken/misaligned bones, lack of coordination and weakened grip or tendency to fall.

Thermal Burns

Caused by your Chameleon getting to close to their basking light; thermal burns are recognisable by a light green patch, which may be accompanied by a blister(s). The area then turns black and eventually falls off leaving a raw area prone to infection. If you notice this, medical attention will be required, but it can be easily prevented by ensuring the basking light is at least one foot away.

Egg Retention

Female Chameleons will lay eggs a number of times each year, regardless of whether or not they have mated. If she does not have a suitable place to lay her eggs, she will retain them. This will cause suffocation, dehydration or malnourishment; each of which will be fatal. When she wants to deposit her eggs, she will stop eating, but keep drinking. She may also start scratching the glass or ground; her eyes will be closed and she will remain in the lower part of her vivarium. At this time, provide a container of clean sand in which she can deposit her eggs.

Cleaning the Habitat

Like any pet, regular cleaning of your pet’s home will be required to maintain its ongoing health. Establishing a regular routine will help you to keep your Chameleon’s vivarium clean and disease free.


  • Take waste away, debris, dead feeder insects, and shed skin from the vivarium
  • Mist your Chameleon’s vivarium with clean, fresh water
  • Remove and clean any objects that have faecal matter on them


  • Disinfect and clean the enclosure thoroughly
  • Clean and disinfect interior items such as decorations, feeding and watering items
  • Replace soiled substrate.

When cleaning your cage your Chameleon should not be handled or played with; instead you could put it in a supervised area to encourage exercise.


As with all reptiles, Chameleons have the potential to carry pathogens such as salmonella. Children under five should not handle them; and hands should be thoroughly washed before and after handling.

Take Me Home Checklist

Before you take your King/Milk Snake home, it is important that you have a habitat set up for it to move straight into. This list will help you identify what you need, and if you have any questions, our Pet Care Advisors in-store will be only too happy to assist.

  • Suitable vivarium
  • Heat Mat
  • Substrate & Bedding
  • Water dish
  • Decoration and hides
  • Misting bottle
  • Food
  • Tongs

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