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Five Fun Facts about Eastern Milk Snakes

A photo of a milk snake showcasing white and orange patterns along its scales.
Photo by Peter Paplanus, licensed under CC BY 2.0. This photo has been cropped.

With its new designation as Illinois’ official state snake, you may be wondering about the eastern milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum). This nonvenomous snake can be found in the open habitats and forest edges of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, as well as throughout the state!

Read on to learn five fun facts about this fascinating reptile.

  • Eastern milk snakes will readily feed on other snakes.
  • Often found in barns and sheds, this species of snake was thought to feed on cow’s milk, thus resulting in the name “milk snake.”
  • Eastern milk snakes prefer to eat small rodents and other mammals, including shrews, mice and voles.
  • As hatchlings and juveniles, these snakes have very beautiful, bright and prominent red blotches that fade into adulthood.
  • During breeding season in June, female milk snakes will lay between six and 24 eggs, which will hatch and emerge in late August to October.

Want to learn more about eastern milk snakes and other local wildlife? Visit one of the Forest Preserves’ six nature centers  to talk to a naturalist!