Keeping Honduran Milk Snakes as Pets (2022)

Reptile care >> Snakes >> Honduran Milk Snake

© 2019, Brandon Cornett | All rights reserved

The Honduran milk snake is a beautiful animal that generally fares well in captivity. Of all the different milk snake species, the Honduran is one of the snakes most commonly kept as a pet. They are colorful, easy to care for, and relatively small in size. They are large enough to be an enjoyable pet, but not so large that they present any housing problems for you.

In this article, we will talk about the basic components of Honduran milk snake care. By the time you finish reading this care sheet, you will know what it takes to keep this kind of pet snake healthy in captivity.

(Video) Milk Snake, The Best Pet Snake?

Where to Buy Your Milk Snake

I strongly recommend that you buy your Honduran milk snake from a professional breeder. These are people who raise and sell snakes for a living. If you choose a breeder with a good reputation, you have a much greater chance of acquiring a healthy snake. On the other hand, if you buy a milk snake from an unknown source, there's a good chance you will inherit an unhealthy snake.

That's not to say that you can't cure a variety of health problems in snakes -- you can. But do you really want to? The best-case scenario is to obtain a Honduran milk snake that is healthy and robust to begin with. And the best place to find such a specimen is through a professional breeder.

Keeping Honduran Milk Snakes as Pets (1)
This image is licensed under Creative Commons 3.0

Most milk snake breeders will ship the animal to you. Some will ship to the nearest airport, while others will ship directly to your door. This kind of information should be clearly stated on their website. Look for a page that says "shipping policies" or something similar.

You can also connect with a professional snake breeder through a reptile show in your area. If you do a Google search for "reptile shows" in your state and/or city, you should be able to come up with something.

Depending on where you live, there may even be a reptile shop within driving distance. For example, I live in Napa California, so I can drive an hour down to Berkeley to visit the East Bay Vivarium. This is one of the best reptile specialty stores in California, and they sell a variety of healthy milk snakes. Again, you can use Google to find these kinds of shops in your area.

(Video) Milk Snake: Ultimate How To Care Guide (2020)

Regardless of how and where you purchase your Honduran milk snake, you need to make sure it's healthy before you buy it. A healthy snake will have good muscle tone, and it should appear active and alert. When you handle the snake, it should be flicking its tongue to check out its surroundings. It should be able to move freely and smoothly through your hands. It should not have any visible kinks, scarring, abrasions, or other signs of injury. The eyes, nose and mouth should be clear.

How to Care for a Honduran Milk Snake

Let's start with the good news. Honduran milk snakes are fairly easy to care for in captivity. This is what makes them so popular in the pet trade. They don't get huge, so you can house them in a three-foot-long cage. They don't have any excessive temperature requirements, other than a basic temperature gradient. And you only have to feed them about once a week.

Let's talk a bit more about the specific care requirements for the Honduran milk snake.

Choosing a Cage for Your Pet Snake

A baby Honduran milk snake can be housed in a 10-gallon terrarium, or a plastic cage of equal size. As the snake grows, however, it will eventually need a larger cage. An adult Honduran could reach five to six feet in length. So you'll eventually need a cage that's three feet long or longer.

If you can afford it, I recommend buying a plastic cage that is specifically design for reptiles. They often come in sizes that are four feet long by two feet deep. This would give your Honduran milk snake plenty of room to move around. These snakes can certainly survive in a smaller cage than this, but I firmly believe that a larger cage creates a healthier snake.

When the snake is a baby, I recommend using a smaller cage than what we talked about for adults. The baby can be housed in a cage equivalent to the size of a shoebox, or slightly larger. Just make sure the milk snakes cage is 100% escape proof. A tiny snake doesn't need much room to escape from its enclosure, and a baby milk snake can be fairly small.

(Video) How to Care for Kingsnakes/Milksnakes (plus fun facts!)

What to Put Inside the Cage

The first thing you need to do is fill the cage with some kind of substrate. This is the material that lines the bottom of the cage. For a Honduran milk snake, I recommend using one of three substrates. These include newspaper, aspen shavings, and a paper-based product called CareFresh bedding.

Newspaper is by far the cheapest and easiest option, but it's not visually appealing. Aspen shavings are easy to come by, and they certainly look better than newspaper. In my experience, Honduran milk snakes love to borrow inside their cages. So you might want to opt for either the CareFresh bedding or the Aspen shavings. Both of these substrates will allow the snake to burrow. Granted, baby snakes generally burrow more than their adult counterparts. So this might not be as much of a consideration when the snake grows larger.

You will also need a water bowl, a couple of hiding areas, and something for the snake to climb on. The first two items are a necessity -- the last is optional. You definitely need to give your Honduran milk snake fresh water to drink and some places to hide. These two things are essential for the long-term health of your pet snake. The climbing furniture, on the other hand, is optional. I recommend that you offer something for your snake to climb on, and then make a decision based on the snake's behavior. If it seems to enjoy climbing, then you can continue to provide something to climb on. If it tends to stay on the ground all the time, you can take the climbing furniture out of the cage. It's a matter of trial and error.

The water bowl is fairly obvious. But I want to talk a bit more about hiding areas. This is an important aspect of Honduran milk snake care, because it allows the snake to follow its natural instincts. When you bring that snake home and put it inside a cage, its first instinct will be to find somewhere to hide. Remember, the snake will not look at you as a friend when you first bring it home. It's going to see you as a potential predator. So it will want to hide under something.

If you provide such a hiding area, your milk snake will adjust to its new surroundings more quickly. It will also be more likely to eat on a regular basis. But if the snake feels too exposed, it can become stressed. This will affect its behavior as well as its health. It may refuse meals, and it may eventually suffer any number of illnesses.

Certain types of snakes will spend a lot of time out in the open. But Honduran milk snakes prefer to hide. As a keeper, you need to provide for this necessity. You can create some excellent hiding areas by using a variety of products, and I've explained them in more detail in this article.

(Video) Species Spotlight- Honduran Milk Snakes

Feeding Your Honduran Milk Snake

Generally speaking, Honduran milk snakes are good eaters. A healthy specimen will rarely refuse a meal, unless it is going into a shed cycle. They are also pretty good about accepting frozen / thawed rodents, which certainly makes life easier for you. Storing frozen mice or rats for your pet snake (and thawing them out as needed) is the easiest way to feed a pet snake. It's certainly the strategy I recommend.

A good rule of thumb is to feed your Honduran milk snake one meal every 7 to 10 days. You can feed a baby or juvenile snake more often than this, because that's the stage of life when they grow the fastest. Younger snakes can be fed every 5 to 7 days. An adult milk snake can be fed every 7 to 10 days.

As I mentioned earlier, there are certain times when your pet snake will refuse to eat. If it's in the middle of a shed cycle, it will probably refuse the meal you offer. But not to worry. You can simply pick up with your feeding schedule after the snake sheds its skin. That's one of the great things about keeping milk snakes as pets -- they don't need to be fed daily like a dog or cat. This makes it easy when you go on vacation. You can simply make sure the snake has fresh water and proper temperatures, and then go away for a seven-day vacation. You can't do that with other pets, unless you hire a pet sitter.

Let's talk about the size of the rodents you offer. Here's another helpful rule of thumb. The mouse or rat should be about the same width as the snake's widest part. The widest part of a snake is the middle of its body. So try to offer rodents that are about the same width, or slightly larger, than the snake's mid-body area. If you offer a prey item that is much smaller than this, it will leave the snake hungry. If you offer prey that is much larger than this guideline, there's a good chance the snake will regurgitate the meal. You obviously don't want either of these things to happen. So try to stay within the guidelines I've established for you.

Temperature, Lighting and Other Habitat Tips

Cage temperatures are another important aspect of Honduran milk snake care, so it's important that you get it right. Your snake cage should have a gradient between the lower and higher temperature. This allows the snake to seek out warmer or cooler areas, as needed. This is what they do in the wild, so they should be allowed to do the same thing in captivity.

I recommend that you keep the cooler side of the cage at about 75°F. A couple of degrees below or above this is fine. The warmer side of the cage (also known as the basking area) should be about 85 to 88°F. You can allow the cage temperature to drop a few degrees at night.

(Video) Milk Snake Care and Maintenance

I hope you find this Honduran milk snake care sheet helpful. If you have additional questions about keeping these snakes as pets, you can ask them in our . It's free to join, and you can generally expect a response within 24 hours.

FAQs

What size tank does a Honduran milk snake need? ›

The majority of the subspecies can be kept in something as small as a 10-gallon aquarium for their entire lives. The larger subspecies, such as the Honduran, should be kept in an enclosure equivalent in size to a 29-gallon aquarium.

What do you feed a Honduran milk snake? ›

Feeding Honduran Milksnakes

Hondurans will feed on mice throughout their lives, beginning with large pinkies and ending with adult-sized mice. Simply choose the size of mouse having a body diameter equal to or very slightly larger than the girth of your snake at mid-body.

Is a milk snake a good pet? ›

Milk snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum) are popular amongst novice and experienced snake owners alike. Their docile disposition, manageable size, and adaptability make them well suited to be kept as pets.

Does a Honduran milk snake need a heat lamp? ›

Lighting. Milk Snakes, like all snakes do not require a light or UV bulb. If you choose to add a basking bulb to add more light to your cage make sure that you maintain proper heat levels but not go over 88 deg. F as this could be detrimental to your snake's health.

Do milk snakes need a heat lamp? ›

Heating. During the day, milk snakes require a warm basking area . This is achieved by using a clear spot bulb at one end of the vivarium. To accomplish the required basking temperature of 85oF- 90oF we use one 40w basking light in a 3ft enclosure.

How often should you feed a milk snake? ›

Most adult Milk Snakes can be fed adult mice to small adult rats once every 5-7 days. A general rule of thumb to follow when feeding snakes is to provide prey items that are approximately the same width as the widest point of the snake. When possible, try to get the snake to eat frozen thawed rodents.

Do milk snake bites hurt? ›

In that regard, what you will probably feel from a milk snake bite should be more of a stinging sensation rather than actual pain. The bite should not be strong enough to make you wail in agony but there might be a bit of pain coming from the stinging sensation of a milk snake bite.

Are milk snakes aggressive? ›

Either way, there is no reason to kill these snake species, venomous or not. Neither snake is aggressive unless handled. Eastern milksnakes range from southeastern Maine to central Minnesota, south to Tennessee and western North Carolina. They are common throughout Connecticut, except in New London County.

How do you train a milk snake? ›

How to Tame an "Aggressive" Snake - YouTube

How long does a Honduran milk snake live? ›

15–20 years

How do you tell if a milk snake is male or female? ›

How to Tell If Your Snake is Male or Female | Pet Snakes - YouTube

How often do milk snakes poop? ›

How Often Do Snakes Poop?
Snake BreedHow Often To Feed ThemHow Often They Poop (Days On Average After Eating)
Garter snake1–2 times per week3–5
Milk snakeEvery 5–7 days5–8
Hognose snakesEvery 10–14 days3–5
Rough green snake2–3 times per week2–3
6 more rows

Do milk snakes need humidity? ›

Milksnakes need an average humidity of 40-60%. There should also be a humid hide for your snake, lined with moistened sphagnum moss or substrate and placed on the mid to cool end of the enclosure.

Do Honduran milk snakes climb? ›

Honduran milk snakes come from a few different areas in Central America. They are found in forested areas and have many climbing and burrowing opportunities that they take advantage of.

Can milk snakes eat crickets? ›

Various types of insects, crickets, slugs, and even earthworms are among the favorites of young milk snakes. Keep in mind, a milk snake is considered a carnivore, therefore, it isn't uncommon for hatchlings to eat other small snakes, even their own species.

Do milk snakes need a hide? ›

Milksnakes need an average humidity of 40-60%, as measured by a digital probe hygrometer placed in the middle of the enclosure. There should also be a humid hide for your snake, lined with moistened sphagnum moss or substrate. Always having a humid retreat is essential.

How do you hold a milk snake? ›

How to Handle a Pueblan Milk Snake - YouTube

How do you keep a milk snake as a pet? ›

Milk Snake, The Best Pet Snake? - YouTube

How many pinkies should I feed my milk snake? ›

Newborn Milksnakes can be given one or two pinky mice per feeding, full-sized adults can handle one or two adult mice or small rat pups. If you've got one of the larger specimens of Milksnake, an adult will usually eat two adult mice or rat pups.

Can milk snakes eat fruit? ›

Snakes do not, nor should not eat fruit. Snakes are strict carnivores and do not have the necessary microbes in their gut to process and break down the fiber and sugars found in fruit. This reptile's gut system cannot support plant-eating behavior, so you should avoid feeding fruit at all costs.

How much do milk snakes cost? ›

As babies, your snake will need smaller “pinkies” or “fuzzies”, which typically cost around $1.50. Frozen adult mice will run about $3 a piece. In addition to the typically lower overall costs of these food items, they are fairly accessible, often readily available at most pet stores.

How big do female Honduran milk snakes get? ›

The Honduran milk snake is one of the larger subspecies of milk snake, attaining a length of 48 inches in the wild and some captive specimens reaching a length of 5 feet.

How long does a Honduran milk snake live? ›

15–20 years

How big does a tangerine Honduran milk snake get? ›

The honduran milk snake is one of the larger species of milk snake reachin 5-6ft on average. They can be found in tropical regions of Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

What is the smallest milk snake? ›

One of the smallest varieties of Milksnake, the New Mexico Milk grows to between just 14 and 18 inches long. It's a slender Milksnake and has a clean, bright color pattern that makes it extremely sought after. The red areas are broad and bright, with narrow black rings.

Do Honduran milk snakes climb? ›

Honduran milk snakes come from a few different areas in Central America. They are found in forested areas and have many climbing and burrowing opportunities that they take advantage of.

What's the biggest milk snake? ›

Lampropeltis triangulum gaigeae, commonly known as the black milk snake, is a non-venomous subspecies of milk snake. It is the largest known milk snake subspecies.

Are Honduran milk snakes poisonous? ›

Brightly colored and strikingly patterned, milk snakes are nonvenomous New World snakes with a wide range throughout North and South America. They are often confused with dangerous copperheads or coral snakes; however, milk snakes pose no threat to humans.

Do milk snake bites hurt? ›

In that regard, what you will probably feel from a milk snake bite should be more of a stinging sensation rather than actual pain. The bite should not be strong enough to make you wail in agony but there might be a bit of pain coming from the stinging sensation of a milk snake bite.

What is the average price of a milk snake? ›

Pet snakes typically cost around $75 or more. This can seem like a lot if you compare them to other little pets, like parakeets, hamsters, or guinea pigs.
...
The Cost of Buying a Snake.
Snake SpeciesAverage Cost to Acquire
Milk Snakes$55-$300
Ribbon Snakes$15-$25
White Lipped Python$125-$150
6 more rows
14 Jul 2020

How long does it take for a milk snake to get full size? ›

It takes approximately 3 years for most milk snakes to mature and grow to their full size, but genetics and subspecies' traits also influence this. Some milk snakes can grow to their maximum length within 2 years with proper care, while others can take up to 4 years to reach their full size.

How long do milk snakes live? ›

The eggs incubate for two to 2 1/2 months, and hatchlings emerge measuring 25 to 30 centimeters (10 to 12 inches). Milk snakes typically live about 15 years in the wild and possibly up to 20 years in human care.

Are milk snakes arboreal? ›

They are generally ground dwellers but are also semi-arboreal (will climb trees).

What is a snow Honduran milk snake? ›

The Snow Honduran Milksnake is a combination of albino and anerythristic Milksnake. It takes two generations, and about 5 years to make these! Incredible looks, awesome pets.

Are milk snakes aggressive? ›

Either way, there is no reason to kill these snake species, venomous or not. Neither snake is aggressive unless handled. Eastern milksnakes range from southeastern Maine to central Minnesota, south to Tennessee and western North Carolina. They are common throughout Connecticut, except in New London County.

How do you keep a milk snake as a pet? ›

Milk Snake, The Best Pet Snake? - YouTube

What can you feed a milk snake? ›

Various types of insects, crickets, slugs, and even earthworms are among the favorites of young milk snakes. Keep in mind, a milk snake is considered a carnivore, therefore, it isn't uncommon for hatchlings to eat other small snakes, even their own species.

Videos

1. HONDURAN MILKSNAKE HISTORY AND CARE TIPS
(Animal World)
2. My Pet Honduran Milk Snake
(Rodolfo “Dolfy” Ordoñez Jr.)
3. Underrated Reptile Pets Episode #4 ( MilkSnake )
(Reptile Rangers)
4. Keeping the Black Milk Snake
(Knox2613)
5. How To Care For A Milk Snake!
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6. How To Set Up A Milk Snake Enclosure!
(Meidusa)

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