The Sinaloan Milk Snake (Lampropeltis t. sinaloae)

The Sinaloan Milk Snake

When people think of Milk Snakes the Sinaloan Milk Snake is the first species that comes to mind. This milk snake is perhaps the most beautiful species, with its clean red, black and white markings. They are not only a great snake for breeding projects but also one of the best pet snakes to have, and with their amazing colours and striking markings they impress every time you open that cage. In this article we are going to cover everything that you will need to know about caring for and breeding this great snake.

The Sinaloan Milk Snake occurs naturally in the lowlands of north-western Mexico. Sinaloan Milk Snakes are considered hardy. They will thrive in a simple setup that has a water bowl and heating. There are a large variety of enclosures for a snake owner to choose from today. One must just decide if they want to have a display enclosure for their milk snake or a more practical rack system, which is ideal if you are planning on breeding or accruing more snakes later on. If someone is keen to keep a snake I always recommend trying to breed with it. Not only is this a natural process in the life of your snake, but it is an extremely rewarding and enjoyable experience for the snake owner. For display enclosures there are a few options. This is a wooden cabinet with glass sliding doors. These look very attractive and you can use plastic plants and lighting to make it look very attractive in your room or wherever you choose to have it. If you have lighting in your tank make sure that is on for only 12 hours during the day and off for 12 hours during the night. Then there is also a glass tank option with a secure, wooden, wire mesh lid. These are practical as most old fish tanks can easily be converted into a snake tank. Plastic tubs can also be used and can be placed in a rack system, which can then hold multiple snakes in a fairly small space. Minimum enclosure floor size for an adult Sinaloan is around 80cm x 40cm. As these snakes are not arboreal height is not a problem. For substrate wood shavings, sawdust (avoid cedar wood shavings as they can be harmful to your snake, rather use pine or aspen) and newspaper are fairly cheap and are easy to keep clean and replace. These substrates aren’t very attractive in a display setup so for this you can use bark mulch or wood chips, which offer a more natural look. It is best to keep these snakes individually, only placing them together during the breeding season. If your Sinaloan Milk Snakes are kept together in the same cage they must just be separated during feeding times.

A must have in your Sinaloan’s enclosure is heating. Heating is best achieved with a heat pad. Heat pads are relatively cheap to purchase and can be purchased at pet stores that stock reptiles. This heat pad will need to be placed on one side of the enclosure which will create a heat gradient, allowing your milk snake to choose which temperature they are most comfortable at. Temperature on the warm side should be maintained at 32°C and the cooler end can be around 25°C.

Sinaloan Milk Snakes require a clean source of drinking water at all time. This can easily achieved by using a plastic or stainless steel water bowl. Water must be cleaned out every few days. Milk snakes will often defecate in water so water bowls will need to be disinfected frequently. If water is left dirty it will quickly develop nasty bacteria that can pose serious health problems to your snake.

You will need to provide your Sinaloan with a hide or two, especially if you are keeping it in a display tank. Hides will help your snake to feel secure, particularly during the day.

Sinaloan Milk Snakes do well on a diet of rodents and will accept pinky mice from their first feed, and as they reach adult hood they will accept adult mice or rat fuzzies. If feeding live food, make sure that you see your snake eat: never leave a live rodent inside a cage with your snake. Thawed frozen rodents will also be accepted, just make sure that you do not place the wet rodent on a substrate that can stick to it and be ingested by the snake. Mice can be fed once a week, and if you want to grow your snake faster they will happily accept smaller meals twice to three times a week. This method seems to allow for easier digestion for your snake and produces fast growth rates. Your Sinaloan Milk Snake will refuse food only when it is in ‘the blue’ and about to shed. Do not worry if you skip a meal every now and then; Sinaloan Milk Snakes can go a few weeks without food.

Overall the Sinaloan Milk Snake comes highly recommended. They are great for beginners and their amazing pattern and colour mutations can make them an exciting breeding project for the more serious breeders! If the basic requirements are met these snakes will thrive under the care of a beginner snake keeper.

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