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Pueblan Milk Snake Care Guide

The Pueblan Milk Snake, also recognized as Campbell’s Milk Snake, named after herpetologist Jonathan A. Campbell, stands out for its vibrant red, white, and black banded appearance. This nonvenomous, beginner-friendly snake is a favored pet for its docile temperament and striking colors. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to provide the best care for your Pueblan Milk Snake, ensuring a healthy and happy life.

Pueblan Milk Snake Facts and Information

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Scientific Name: Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli
  • Average Size: 3 – 4 feet (0.9 m – 1.2 m)
  • Lifespan: 15 – 22 years
  • Diet: Primarily thawed feeder mice
  • Optimal Temperature Range: 70°F (Low) – 84°F (High)
  • Humidity: 40 – 60%
  • UVB Lighting: Optional
  • Price Range: $50 to $200

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 Care Sheet

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Creating the Ideal Habitat

  1. Enclosure: A terrarium of at least 40 to 60 gallons, tailored to be two-thirds the length of your snake, with a height of around 17 inches, is recommended. For hatchlings, smaller tanks are suitable until they reach one year of age.
  2. Substrate: Options include aspen, coconut fiber, or paper-based products. Avoid cedar, gravel, and sand to prevent irritation or harm.
  3. Temperature: Maintain a gradient from 76°F to 86°F, using a heat mat on one side of the tank.
  4. Humidity: Keep humidity levels between 40% and 60%, using a hygrometer for accurate monitoring.
  5. Lighting: Use a day/night cycle with incandescent lights during the day and a nocturnal infrared heat lamp or ceramic heater at night.

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

REPTI ZOO 50 Gallon Reptile Glass Terrarium Tank Double Hinge Door with Screen Ventilation Large Reptile Terrarium 36" x 18" x 18"(Knock-Down)

Choosing the right enclosure depends on your preference. Some pet keepers prefer glass aquariums like the one above from ReptiZoo, 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

Reptile Prime Coconut Fiber Bedding Substrate for reptiles, amphibians, or invertebrates

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

Fluker's Premium Heat Mat for All Reptiles and Amphibians, Large 17"x11", Black

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

Zoo Med Labs Digital Thermometer Humidity Gauge, Single (TH-31)

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

Zoo Med Nocturnal Infrared Incandescent Heat Lamp 250 Watts

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

Offer thawed mice or chicks, ensuring they are no wider than the snake’s girth. Hatchlings should be fed pinkie mice every 5-6 days, while adults can be fed every 10-14 days. Avoid live feeding to prevent injury to the snake.

Campbell’s Milk Snake (Pueblan milk snake) eating

Understanding Your Snake’s Behavior

Pueblan Milk Snakes are crepuscular, being most active at dawn and dusk. They may exhibit nervous or flighty behavior but rarely bite. Regular, gentle handling can help them become more accustomed to human interaction.

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

Breeding Pueblan Milk Snakes is straightforward after a brumation period. Females lay 2 to 17 eggs, which hatch after about 55-60 days. Various morphs, such as apricot and albino, are available in the pet trade.

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.

Conservation/Threats

While not currently endangered, it’s best to support conservation efforts by opting for captive-bred snakes from reputable sources.

Conclusion

Pueblan Milk Snakes are an excellent choice for both novice and experienced reptile enthusiasts. By following this care guide, you can ensure your snake not only survives but thrives under your care. Remember, these beautiful creatures require commitment and responsible pet ownership to live a full and healthy life.

Additional Resources

Feel free to share your experiences, questions, or additional tips on Pueblan Milk Snake care in the comments below. Your input helps us all learn and grow as responsible pet owners!

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