Why Is A Milk Snake Called A Milk Snake?

Welcome to the intriguing subject of milk snakes! Milk snakes have been popular pets for many decades, with data from 2018 indicating over 2 million milk snakes kept as pets around the world.

But why are these snakes called milk snakes? Read on to learn the amazing story behind these incredible reptiles, as well as other fascinating facts about milk snakes. Including why they are such great pets that have been adopted by millions of people around the world!

Why is a Milk Snake Called a Milk Snake?

Have you ever come across a milk snake while out in the wilderness? This striking snake can be found in North America, including Mexico and Canada, and its coloration is distinctively marked with white, brown, and red colors.

But what is the strange name it goes by, and why is a milk snake called a milk snake?It turns out that the story behind its name has to do with a misunderstanding of the snake’s behavior.

Let’s take a closer look at the milk snake and how it got its unique name.

The Milk Snake’s Colorings and Behavior

The milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum) is a species of colubrid snake that can be found in a range of habitats throughout North America, including woodlands and meadows. The snake gets its name from the bold pattern of color markings along its body.

A typical milk snake is covered in alternating layers of red, white, and black color bands, which can be seen along its dorsal with the occasional brown coloration. These colorings strongly resemble those of the scarlet kingsnake (Lampropeltis elapsoides), a similar species from the same genus.

The milk snake is not often seen out during the day and is typically nocturnal, meaning it will hunt for its prey at night. Its diet consists mainly of small mammals and reptiles that it can hunt down and subdue with its sharp claws and teeth.

The Folktale Behind Its Name

At one time, the milk snake was nicknamed the “garter snake” in regions of North America, due to its superficial resemblance to the common garter snake.

A folk tale emerged over time to explain why this snake was called the “garter snake. ”The story goes that in years gone by, some farmers believed that the milk snake had the potential to steal and consume their cows’ milk.

The snake had supposedly become so adept at stealing the milk that it had developed the distinctive white and black stripes, the reminder of a garter belt that some farmers used when they had gone out to milk the cows. This story, of course, turned out to be false all along. Milk snakes do not drink cows’ milk and it’s unlikely they ever would.

The True Reason for Its Name

The origin of the milk snake’s name is actually much simpler than this folktale suggests. Instead of being based on the snake’s behavior, it’s believed that the snake has simply been named after the milk-like appearance of its colorations. When the typical red, white, and black stripes are laid out in the right order, they can create a striking visual that looks remarkably like a glass of milk. This color combination is more than just a passing resemblance — in some regions, the milk snake is known as the “blotched milk snake” or the “calico snake. ”


The milk snake is a unique species that’s found throughout North America. Its name appears to come from a misunderstanding of its behavior — or, alternatively, from its unique white and black colorings, which can look like a glass of milk. Citations:
https://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Milk_snake
https://www. sciencesource. com/archive/milk-snake-spotted-b339be84899a5d5774e038a6126c1d9f. html
https://www. hunker. com/13421102/why-is-it-called-a-milk-snake

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