Are Milk Snakes Poisonous? (& Why You Might Think They Are)

Milk snakes have black, red, and yellow bands. They look intimidating and they vibrate their tails when they feel threatened.

But, is a milk snake poisonous or not?

In this article, we have put together everything you must know about these snakes and whether you must worry about their presence or not. Let’s slide right to it.

Key Takeaway:

Milk snakes can vibrate their tails but they are not rattlesnakes. The colors of some species imitate the venomous coral snake, copperhead, and other dangerous snakes. But milk snakes are not venomous, only have small teeth, and tend to be docile.

But perhaps you still doubt, if milk snake poisonous? Or is a milk snake dangerous?

To find out why people often think they should be wary of milk snakes and see which dangerous snakes they resemble, take a look at the next section of this article.

milk snake front white background

Are Milk Snakes Poisonous?

You’ve just spotted a milk snake in the yard.

Should you be afraid of it or not? Is a milk snake venomous?

Milk snakes are not poisonous. Here are 3 reasons why you do not need to be afraid of them.

  • When confronted a milk snake will try to escape rather than attack.
  • Milk snakes are not venomous snakes.
  • They only have small teeth.
  • Although they can vibrate their tails, they are not rattlesnakes.

Milk snakes are pretty harmless. They are popular pets.

So why are so many people afraid of them?

Coming up next, you’ll see a list of snakes the milk snake resembles and why people often kill them when they find them in the wild.

The Milk Snake and Coral Snakes

Are milk snakes dangerous?

No, the subspecies of milk snakes are not dangerous.

Many people kill milk snakes when they see them because of their resemblance to other snakes that indeed are dangerous. One example is the milk snake’s resemblance to the venomous coral snake.

Here are some of the similarities between the two snake species.

  • Both milk snakes and coral snakes can be covered in red, yellow, and black patterns.
  • They are both brightly colored to ward off predators.
  • You will find both of them living in forest areas.
  • They both prey on other snakes.

Although a milk snake at first glance may look like a deadly coral snake, upon closer examination, you will be able to tell the difference between the two. (More about that in a mo.)

The Eastern Milk Snake and the Agkistrodon Genus

The eastern milk snake is often killed when found because it resembles some of the species of venomous pit vipers in the Agkistrodon genus.

Here are some of the similarities between these distinct species.

  • Eastern milk snakes resemble copperhead snakes because of their basic rusty brown color.
  • They also resemble copperheads because they both have dark bands that travel down their backs and sides.
  • Juvenile milk snakes are often confused for copperhead snakes because they are brighter red and resemble copperheads even more while they are young snakes.

The Eastern Milk Snake and the Sistrurus Genus

Eastern milk snakes are harmless species of snakes. But because of their resemblance to certain species of rattle tail snakes of the Sistrurus genus, people often kill them when they find them.

Here are some of the similarities between these separate species.

  • Both species are often found in forests.
  • Pygmy snakes vibrate their tails like milk snakes.

The Milk Snake and Non-Venomous Snakes

Asides from resembling dangerous snakes, the harmless milk snake also resembles a couple of non-poisonous snakes. These include the fox snake and the scarlet kingsnake.

The Difference Between a Milk Snake and a Coral Snake

Is it a milk snake or a coral snake? Should you be weary of it?

Milk snakes are commonly confused with coral snakes which are a dangerous species of snake. The alternating bands of color on milk snakes and coral snakes are different.

Milk snakes generally have red bands with black rings on both sides. Coral snakes have red bands with yellow rings on either side.

Some people learn which snakes are dangerous coral snakes and which are harmless milk snakes using the following rhyme.

“Red on yellow kills a fellow. Red on black, venom lack.”

Or its variation:

“Red touches black, friend of Jack. Red touches yellow, bad for a fellow.”

But, neither of these rhymes is 100% trustworthy because of the many colors milk snakes come in.

The patterns on a milk snake tend to be in blotches rather than in stripes such as are typical with the coral snake. The latter also tend to be bigger.

If you are in doubt about which snake is in front of you avoid it. Never attempt to trap or corner it.

Treat any snake bites as emergencies and seek medical attention immediately. Avoid stepping into piles of leaves where these snakes are commonplace and usually hide.

Facts About Milk Snakes

There is no such thing as a venomous milk snake, in fact, these snakes tend to be rather docile, and that is why people often keep them as pets. There are so many interesting things to find out about milk snakes.

Are you ready to get savvy on some of the most fascinating facts about this species?

Then take a look at the information up next.

Awesome Lifespan Milk Snakes

There is not a lot we know about the lifespan of different milk snakes. So check out this hidden gem that lets you in on the life expectancy of one type of non-venomous snake.

  • The longest lifespan for the Louisiana milk snake was one that lived for 20 years and 7 months in captivity.

The Fascinating Colors and Glossy Scales of Many Milk Snakes

Milk snakes, although they are not a venomous species, have a lot of color variations that make them appear dangerous so potential predators will avoid them. This is known as Batesian mimicry.

Find out more about the color combination of the subspecies of milk snakes.

  • Each central plains milk snake has an average of 20 to 32 triads of red/orange, black, and white bands.
  • The Jalisco milk snake is most commonly found in Lake Chapala in Mexico, Central America. It has interesting black rings that distinguish this milk snake from other snakes.
  • The Sinaloan milk snake has small black and yellow bands that separate larger red bands.
sinaloan milk snake white background
Sinaloan milk snake

Their Intriguing Habitats In the Natural World

Milk snakes, when they are not raised or bred in captivity live in very interesting habitats. Take a look at where your pet originated from before it entered the pet trade.

  • The Honduran milk snake lives in rotting vegetation, rotting logs, and leaf litter in the wild. You will find the Honduran milk snake in Honduras and other countries such as Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
  • The Pueblan milk snake got its name because it is native to the Mexican state of Puebla. They are also called Campbell’s milk snakes.
  • The Nelson’s milk snake is mainly found near bodies of water in Mexico.
  • The Stuart’s milk snake inhabits the Andes mountains in Central and South America and likes cooler temperatures. This harmless species mimics the coral snake with its triple color pattern.
tricolor reverse honduran milk snake
Honduran milk snake

The Impressive Lengths of Milk Snakes

Some milk snakes are relatively small mammals, while others are very long. Have a look at some of the extremes in this list of non-venomous snake facts.

  • The Mexico milk snake is shorter in length but larger in width than most milk snakes. It usually grows to a length of 24 to 30 inches.
  • Red milk snakes are some of the smaller milk snakes in the subspecies. Red milk snakes average between 21 and 28 inches long.
  • The black milk snake is the largest of the milk snake subspecies. It can grow from 60 to 72 inches long.

The Interesting Behavior Milk Snakes Display

Milk snakes that are not bred in captivity tend to be very shy. Here’s where you’ll spot some of them.

  • The Utah milk snake is almost entirely nocturnal. You are most likely to find it before and after an evening thunderstorm.
  • The pale milk snake is very secretive and hides throughout the day. But you might find it in the open during humid nights or after rainfall.

The Milk Snake Non-Venomous

Many people see the coloring of milk snakes and immediately presume they are dangerous.

But, are milk snakes venomous?

Thanks to this article, we have seen that although they may shake their tails like rattlesnakes and have bright colors that resemble dangerous snakes, they are not venomous. They do have small teeth, but they would prefer to avoid danger rather than attack.

Did you find this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best information about several separate species of snakes such as king snakes, the red milk snake, and pueblan milk snakes. For more guides on what to feed your reptile and how to take care of snake eggs, have a look at our website.

Thanks for reading!

Leave a Comment