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Eastern Milksnake

S. Gilingwater

Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum

The eastern milksnake will vibrate its tail to make a rattle like sound as part of its defense.

Species at Risk Status

Federal Government status: Special Concern

Provincial Government status: Special Concern


  • Slender and sleek looking snake. Adults are 61 to 90 cm (24 to 35 in.).
  • Greyish background colour with reddish blotches bordered in black along its back and sides. Most will have a light coloured V or Y shape on the top of their head.
  • Smooth scales (not keeled) add to its smooth appearance.


  • Food consists mostly of small mammals, although they may also feed on small birds and eggs.
  • They will kill larger prey by constriction.

Habits and Reproduction

  • Hibernate in mammal burrows, rock crevices and house foundations, often communally (with other snakes) and emerge in mid-April.
  • Typically remain undercover throughout the day and are active at night (nocturnal).
  • Return to their hibernation sites by October.
  • Lives on average 7-10 years.
  • Mate in early spring, and lay 6-20 eggs in late June or early July under rotting logs and leaf litter;
  • Maturity is reached after 4 years.


  • May be found in open forest, field and wetland habitat. Often found around farmhouses, barns, sheds and woodpiles.


  • Habitat loss, road mortality and direct persecution are the greatest threats to this snake.

Conservation Actions

  • Please report sightings of milksnakes especially if you notice areas where they are gathering in the fall.
  • Watch out while driving. Far too many milksnakes are killed along our roadways.

Range Map

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