Pueblan Milk Snake (Campbell’s Milk Snake)

By Snaketracks / June 1, 2019
Pueblan Milk Snake (Campbell's Milk Snake)

Pueblan Milk Snake Care Sheet

The Pueblan milk Snake, also known as Campbell’s milk snake (named after the herpetologist Jonathan A. Campbell), is a vibrantly colored snake which is popular around the world. Their docile nature and colorful patterns of red, white and black bands make this species one of the most desirable snakes to keep as pets. They are easy to care for, easy to handle and affordable to acquire.

Quick Reference

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Colubridae
  • Scientific Name: Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli
  • Risk Factor: Nonvenomous, colubrid
  • Average Adult Size: 3 – 4 feet (0.9 m – 1.2 m)
  • Lifespan: 15 – 22 years
  • Clutch Size: 5 to 15 eggs
  • Egg Incubation Period: 55 – 60 days
  • Food: Thawed feeder mice
  • Average Temperature: 70° H/84° L
  • Humidity: 40 – 60%
  • UVB Lighting: Optional
  • Average Price Range: $50 to $200
  • Conservation Status: No special status

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Pueblan Milk Snake Facts and Information

The Pueblan milk snake is scientifically known as Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli. As you can tell from the snake’s trinomial name, this is a subspecies of the Lampropeltis triangulum.

The L. triangulum are milk snakes, so called because of a legend which claims that specimens of this species are capable of drinking milk by suckling at the udders of a cow.

There are about 24 subspecies of the milk snake. Popular subspecies include Sinaloan milk snake (L. t. sinaloae), Pueblan milk snake (L. t. campbelli), Nelson‘s milk snake (L. t. nelsoni), Mexican milk snake (L. t. annulata), Jalisco milk snake (L. t. arcifera), and Honduran milk snake (L. t. hondurensis).

The Pueblan milk snake grows up to 3 to 4 feet in length. Stripes of black, white and red make up the coloration of this snake. This color pattern resembles that of the poisonous coral snake and protects the snake from predators.

Unlike other milk snakes, the Pueblan milk snake has wide white bands and black tipping over its red bands. Additionally, the red bands of the Pueblan milk snake are brighter than that of other milk snakes.

Pueblan Milk Snake Habitat

Pueblan milk snake in habitat

In the wild, they can be found in Puebla, Morelos, and Oaxaca, all in Mexico. Here they prefer non-arid environments. They are often founded in rocky slopes of open prairies and forested regions.

The snake prefers habitats where the temperature is warm, with highs of around 84 F and lows of around 70 F. As such, the enclosure for this snake needs to be warm. Similarly, the enclosure should have areas that are warmer (around 84 F) and areas that are cooler (around 74 F).

Enclosure

Choosing the right enclosure depends on your preference. Some pet keepers prefer glass aquariums like the one above from Exo Terra, while others prefer vivariums with 1 glass side and 3 wooden sides. The terrariums with 3 wooden sides are best for insulation. However, the preference depends on you.

It is best that terrarium’s length is longer than the snake. At least it needs to be two-thirds the length of the snake. The height of the terrariums should be about 17 inches. The enclosure should have a capacity of 40 to 60 gallons.

Baby milk snakes can be housed in smaller tanks until they are about a year old. Because large tanks can stress hatchlings, you may not have any choice but to house them in small tanks. The tank of the baby has to be about 12 inches long and 6 inches high.

The presence of coarse branches can help the snake shed. Also, provide hiding spots in the tank. Both the cool and the hot zones need hiding spots. Plastic or stone caves make excellent hiding spots.

Substrate

The substrate used in the tank can be ashen, paper towel, butcher paper or even newspaper. Cypress, coconut fiber or aspen bedding are preferable.

You can purchase the right bedding material online or from your local reptile pet shop. An excellent example of bedding for your snake is the Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding.  

The main substrate/ bedding to avoid is cedar, which is toxic to skins. Gravels, rocks, and sand should also be avoided as they can irritate the snake’s skin or even harm them.

Temperature

The temperature of the enclosure needs to be between 76 and 86 F. To regulate the temperature of the enclosure, you need a heating pad, which covers a third of the tank, under one side of the tank.

The Fluker’s Heat Mat is an excellent choice. This heat pad has to produce temperatures of between 84 and 88 F. Start by setting the heat pad to the lowest temperature for about 15 minutes.

Check the temperature in the terrarium and gradually increase the temperature until the temperature of the area of the terrarium above the heat pad is 84 to 88 F. The snake will move between the cooler areas and the warmer areas of the tank to regulate its body temperature.

Humidity

Maintaining the right humidity level is important as it helps prevent skin issues. In addition, the right humidity level ensures the snake can shed easily and comfortably.

A humidity monitor or hygrometer can be used to track humidity levels. A humidity level of 40 to 60 percent is optimal. This is the humidity level of most rooms.

If humidity levels are low, a ceramic bowl of water can be placed above the area of the terrarium warmed by the heating pad. The bowl needs to be ceramic so as to prevent the snake from tipping it. You can also mist the terrarium with water.

Lighting

Lighting as the main source of heat for snakes is impractical and not advisable. Firstly, they need to be off during the night. The resulting drop in temperature is not conducive to milk snakes.

Lighting should be used mainly to maintain the day/night cycle. Incandescent lights can be used to light the enclosure for 12 hours during the day.

At nighttime, a nocturnal reptile light or a ceramic heater can be used. An effective nocturnal lamp is the Zoo Med Nocturnal Infrared Heat Lamp. This light is designed for large reptile terrariums. An incandescent lamp can be used during the day.

Feeding the Pueblan Milk Snake

Wild Pueblan milk snakes feed on mice, birds, frogs, rats, lizards, eggs of lizards and birds, and even other snakes. Just like kingsnakes, milk snakes will prey on even the most venomous snakes such as rattlesnakes and coral snakes as far as these snakes can be overpowered.

It is not wise to house more than one milk snake in an enclosure, as they are cannibalistic. Hatchlings feed primarily on young snakes. They kill their prey through constriction and swallow them whole.

Feed the snake with thawed mice or chicks that are no wider than the snake’s girth. Pre-killed mice are preferable as live prey can injure the snake especially if the snake decides not to feed. Ensure you thaw the mice.

You can feed hatchlings and younglings pinkie mice. These are small enough for the hatchling to eat comfortably. As they grow, the mice fed them should be larger. Finally, when they are adults, feed them adult mice.

Campbell’s Milk Snake (Pueblan milk snake) eating

Feed snakes that are less than a year old one mouse every 5 or 6 days. Feed adult snakes every 10 to 14 days. Use a pair of tweezers or tongs to place the mouse on a dish for the snake. Watch your hand thoroughly before feeding the snake.

If the snake doesn’t want to feed, it could be a symptom of stress. Ensure lighting, temperature, and other conditions are just right. Also since, they hunt at dawn and dusk when the skies are relatively dark, try covering the cage and dimming the lights.

In addition, snakes prefer live prey. To emulate this, run the food under warm water until it is warmer than room temperature. Similarly, try wiggling the mouse or chick being fed the snake.

Snakes will also eat feeder chicks. Try feeding the snake feeder chicks if you think it may be bored of mice and vice versa.

See a herp vet or exotic animal vet if the snake still won’t eat.

Pueblan Milk Snake’s Temperament

The Pueblan milk snake is most active during dawn the dusk. As such, the species is said to be crepuscular. These nervous snakes are flighty and as such should be handled with care. They are quick to flee when threatened. However, they rarely ever bite.

In order for them to get used to being handled, they need to be handled at regular intervals for short periods of time (no more than 10 to 15 minutes).

They may be squirmy and hyperactive as younglings but as they grow and get used to being handled they are much calmer. Don’t handle them when they are shedding or 24 hours before and after feeding them.

Pueblan Milk Snake’s Lifespan

While little is known of their lifespan in the wild, in captivity they can live up to 22 years. On average, your Pueblan milk snake will live up to between 15 and 22 years. They require a long-term commitment.

Breeding Pueblan Milk Snakes

Pueblan Milk Snake (Campbell’s Milk Snake) wrapped around its eggs

Milk snakes are easy to breed as such there are many morphs and variety of these snakes on the market. Pueblan milk snakes mate after brumation – which takes place from November to early March.

During mating and breeding season, females need to be fed twice a week. Mating occurs in spring. Gravid females lay eggs later in the spring or in early summer. They lay 2 to 17 eggs per clutch. These eggs hatch after about 2 months.

Popular Pueblan milk snake morphs include apricot, Halloween, anerythristic, albino, and albino tangerine.

Health Issues

If the snake is well-fed, has access to clean water, and the enclosure is properly warmed, lit and clean, the snake can live its entire life without any health issues.

However, it is important to schedule regular checkups with your local herp vet (or exotic animal vet). These checkups will ensure your snake is in good health and any health issue is detected early.

Also right after acquiring the pet, have it examined by a vet. This initial checkup is necessary because it ensures that the pet is healthy from the get-go. After the initial checkup, the snake needs to be examined annually or semi-annually.

Check the Pueblan milk snake for health complication daily or every two days. This is to ensure you detect health issues early. Examine the snakes breathing – it should not be wheezing. Also, check for discharges from the mouth, eyes, and skin. The skin should also be free of marks.

Clean the enclosure thoroughly with 10% bleach solution every six months. Change the bedding every 2 to 4 weeks. Lastly, remove all fecal and uric matter daily.             

Pricing and Availability

Pueblan Milk Snake being held

Acquiring a Pueblan milk snake is not difficult. There are many morphs of this snake available. You can find different variations/morphs of this milk snake in most reptile pet shops. They are moderately priced and will cost you about $60. The morphs are more expensive and can cost over $200.

Some great sites to acquire Pueblan milk snakes from include SnakesAtSunset, UndergroundReptiles, and MorphMarket.

Conservation/Threats

Predators of milk snakes include coyotes, striped skunks, red foxes, and raccoons. Because of their habit of vibrating their tails when threatened and their similarity in appearance to coral snakes, humans that come across Pueblan milk snakes may mistaken them for poisonous snakes and kill them. 

Although they are widely killed by humans who mistakenly believe they are venomous, there are still widespread and abundant. As such, they do not have special status. Regardless, try to acquire captive bred Pueblan milk snakes only.

Milk Snake Overview Video

Conclusion

Pueblan milk snakes are popular pets because of their attractive coloration and their docile nature. They are easy to care for and breed. These characteristics make them easy to find and a good starter snake.

However because they are long-lived, they require long-term commitment and dedication. Releasing any pet into the wild is not advisable even if it’s the species’ habitat. If you have any comments, questions or information on the Pueblan milk snake, kindly leave them below.

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