Milk Snakes as Exotic Pets - Care Sheet

Milk Snakes are excellent Exotic Pets available from Predators of Shipley

Milk Snakes are excellent Exotic Pets available from Predators of Shipley

The Milk Snake make a great first reptile and are an interesting Exotic Pet due to their friendly and active nature the same as a Rat Snake. Growing to around 4.5 , the snake is a relatively docile reptile.

The Milk Snake can be easily tamed and make a good choice for the new snake keeper. The mMilk Snake is diurnal that means the snake is awake in the day and sleeps at night. Milk Snakes are an active snake and will love time outside of the vivarium to exercise.

For beginners, the Milk Snake is a good choice as an Exotic Pet and with regular handling remains safe.

If you are unsure, please contact us so we can answer your questions.

Milk Snakes Size

Milk Snakes grow to around 4.5 feet in length. Excellent for a first time reptile owner or for children to handle.  They are only slim and are a small snake.

Milk Snakes Temperament

Friendly and active. They are diurnal so are awake and active during the day and sleep at night.

Milk Snakes Vivarium Setup

A baby Milk Snake should be kept in a vivarium approx 18“ x 12“ x 12“. This should be large enough to house your snake until it is approx 9 or 10 months old and then will need upgrading to an adult size vivarium. It is important not to put a baby snake into a large vivarium as this can put them off feeding as they don’t feel secure. Adults will require a 36”x18”x18” vivarium.

Temperature Control

Milk Snakes are exothermic so their vivs require a hot end and a cool end to enable them to regulate their temperature. The hot end should be around 90?F (34?C) and the cool end around 80?F (28?C) during the day. The temperature at night should not drop lower than 70?F (22?C).

Heating / Lighting

Use a flat sided reflector bulb in the hot end of the viv to regulate the temperature – this is your main heat source in your viv so needs to be replaced as soon as the bulb goes – the bulb should be on 10 to 12 hours a day and switched off at night.

A heat mat no longer than ½ the length of the viv should also be placed in the hot end this can be left on all the time to provide some heat during the night. (Note – in a baby snake vivarium a heat mat is normally sufficient to heat the tank – a bulb would not normally be required.)


Recommended substrate would be beech chippings but you could also use Ground Walnut Shells or Aspen.

Feeding / Water

Baby Milk Snakes require feeding twice a week, adults will sometimes drop to once a week feeding but some continue to take twice a week – this will depend on the appetite of your snake. They feed on rodents – the size of the food will depend on the age and size of your snake. If you are unsure what size to offer please ask for advice. All food offered should be already dead – it is illegal to feed live in the UK.

Rodents can be bought frozen and stored in your freezer. Food should be fully defrosted at room temperature before offering to your snake. Once defrosted if a mouse is not eaten remove it the following day and throw away – do not try and re-freeze. It is normal for a snake to miss a feed if they are in shed if they miss a feed wait until they have finished shedding then offer when they are next due feeding.

Snakes should always have access to clean, fresh water. Keep their water bowl in the cool end of the viv and change daily or every other day.


When your snake is coming up to shed you will notice it's eyes go a milky colour, they will normally then shed a few days later. They should shed all in one go but if they have a "patchy" shed and have places where the old scales haven't come off you can give them a warm bath or buy shedding spray to help remove the old scales. It is important that you make sure all the shed comes off the tip of the snakes tail or it can cut off the circulation and the tip of the tail may go dead and fall off.


Spot clean twice a week and remove any mess, as they only eat once or twice a week they will only mess once or twice a week. Give them a full clean out every 3 weeks or more regularly if required. Do NOT use any household or domestic cleaners in or around the vivarium as they contain harmful and potentially lethal chemicals. Reptile disinfectant can be used in the tank and as a glass cleaner.

It is good practice to wash your hands before and after handling your animal and especially after cleaning your tank or removing waste.

Milk Snake Vital Stats

  • Experience:  NOVICE - A good snake as your first Exotic Pet.
  • Life span:  The average Milk Snake will live for around 15 years in captivity but can live up to 20 years with the appropriate care.
  • Size:  Milk Snakes reach a mature size of 4.5 feet.
  • Price:   The Milk Snake is a relatively inexpensive snake.
  • Enclousure:  Adult Milk Snakes require a large vivarium and the enclosure should be a minimum of 36" x 18" x 18".
  • Feeding:  Your Milk Snake will eat mice.
  • Legal issues:  There were no legal issues when keeping a Milk Snake as a pet in the UK at the time of writing this article.

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