Black milk snake

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Black milk snake
hatchling black milk snake
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Lampropeltis
Species: L. triangulum
Subspecies: L. t. gaigeae
Trinomial name
Lampropeltis triangulum gaigeae
Dunn, 1937

Lampropeltis triangulum gaigeae, commonly known as the black milk snake, is a nonvenomous subspecies of milk snake. It is the largest known milk snake. Black milk snakes are found in the mountains of Costa Rica and Panama.


Hatchlings black milk snakes are between 12 and 16 inches in length. They are red, black, and white or yellow as hatchlings. When they are between 6 and 10 months of age, the black milk snakes will begin to change colors, and start to turn black as they grow to adulthood. Adult black milk snakes average between 48–76 inches (4 feet – 6 feet 4 inches), but some have been known to grow up to 7 feet in length.

Geographic range[edit]

Black milk snakes are native to Costa Rica and Panama. They typically live in the wet, high mountain cloud forests at elevations between 5,000 and 7,400 feet in Costa Rica, and 4,300–6,500 feet in Panama.


Black milk snakes typically eat mice, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, reptile eggs, birds, and bird eggs in the wild.


Black milk snakes can make excellent pets for many people. They are typically very hardy snakes in captivity. As hatchlings they will readily accept mice, and as adults may consume medium-sized rats. Since they dwell in high elevations in the wild, they do well with their temperatures between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. If they are kept at temperatures between 80 - 85 degrees, they metabolize their food much more quickly than other colubrids, and can become overweight very easily.