MILK SNAKE CARESHEET
The Honduran Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum hondurensis) is a colubrid native to Honduras, Nicaragua, and parts of Costa Rica. This popular snake comes in a variety of colors and patterns, from bright reds and oranges to whites and pinks. Hondurans are one of the larger species of milk snakes, reaching on average of around 4-5 foot long. While hatchlings tend to be flighty and defensive, with proper handling adults can become wonderful pets.
Hatchlings should initially be housed in small shoe box sized containers (such as a Sterilite 6 Qt) until they are large enough to move into 15-16 Qt (10 gallon) enclosures. An adult Honduran will require a 30-gallon (around 36 x 18 x 12) enclosure as these snakes can grow quite large and are fairly active.
A large heavy bowl is necessary to provide proper humidity within the enclosure and should be kept around 40-60% (your snake should be shedding in one piece, if they are shedding in patches your humidity is too low). Moist hides can be added when necessary as well. Decor and cage accessories are optional but hides will be needed to ensure the snake has a safe place to retreat if needed. We like to provide two hides for our Hondurans, one on each end of the enclosure.
Hondurans milk snakes can thrive on a variety of substrates, we are having great success with aspen bedding in a more humid region. San-chips are another wonderful option that is absorbent and easy to clean. Paper products such as Carefresh are another option and promote burrowing behavior in some individuals. Coconut fiber is another option, especially in lower humidity environments. Hatchlings are often kept on paper towels or newspaper to ensure a sterile environment with no risk of impaction.
Lighting and Heat
There are many ways to provide Honduran milk snakes with the proper heating and lighting, from belly heat to incandescent bulbs. Whether you choose to use heat bulbs in a tank or heat tape in a racking system, a thermostat is always recommended for use with your heating elements. Thermostats regulate temperature and ensure that temps do not reach unsafe levels, here at LFGH we utilize heat tape controlled by Vision and Spyder brand thermostats. The basking spot for Hondurans should sit between 88-90º F, with the ambient cage temperature ranging from 78º F to 82º F.
In the wild, Honduran milk snakes rotate their hunting schedules based on the season, often switching from being nocturnal during the summer and diurnal during the fall. Here at LFGH we have noticed our milks are far more active at night but thrive best when given access to natural lighting. This can be accomplished with full spectrum lighting or natural window lighting (given windows are available and well-lit each day). In darker environments LED lighting can be extremely beneficial to maintain a good 12-16 hour day/night setting for many species.
Hatchlings should be fed twice per week, juveniles every 5 days, and adults every 7 days. Honduran milks can be very voracious feeders and we recommend using tongs or hemostats for feeding. They are not picky feeders and will readily take most diets, we have had wonderful success using f/t mice for our animals. Snakes should be fed appropriately sized meals, determined by the head size and girth of the individual. At LFGH we recommend feeding smaller more occasional meals than larger ones, this has proven to decrease obesity, increase activity, and support a stronger feeding response in our animals.
Behavior and Defense
Hatchlings and juvenile animals can be flighty and wiggly, often resorting to fleeing, defecating, musking (emptying of the scent glands), and even biting in an attempt to escape. This is common with some species of young colubrids and can be overcome with slow and respectful daily handling. Adult specimens are typically docile and tolerant of handling, making them wonderful pets and display animals.
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