No, snakes don’t drink milk. They are cold-blooded reptiles, meaning they need water to survive and remain hydrated. Snakes cannot digest dairy products.
A mother snake does not have teats and baby snakes do not drink milk from their mothers.
The species called ‘Milk snakes’ don’t drink milk either, despite their name! They got the name from an old wives’ tale of milk snakes drinking from the teats of cows, which is not true!
If a snake is left without water for an extended period, it may drink milk out of desperation, but that will likely cause digestive problems. Snake owners should not feed their snakes milk unless advised by a veternarian.
Why Don’t Snakes Drink Milk?
Snakes are reptiles, and do not have the ability to digest dairy products like milk. Milk is designed for warm-blooded mammals.
Milk can cause damage to a snake’s digestive system, as they are not equipped to break down the lactose.
Mammals like humans and dogs produce an enzyme which enables the breakdown of lactose. Snakes do not have this enzyme and cannot digest the milk.
Humans who are lactose intolerant also lack this enzyme. This means that all snakes are technically lactose intolerant.
If a snake is thirsty it will drink water. But they don’t even drink water as often as you might think. They usually get most of their moisture from the prey they eat.
When they do drink, snakes use lakes or rives to get water. They will also use their jaw to absorb water like a sponge. Some snakes can even absorb water through their scales!
Pet snake owners will also know that, like most reptiles, snakes will be very fussy drinkers and only drink fresh water.
Do Snakes Drink Milk as Babies?
No, as snakes are reptiles not mammals, mother snakes do not produce milk.
A mother snake lays eggs and then leaves them. The baby snakes will consume the yolk in their egg for nutrients until they hatch.
Snakes are not like mammals in that they are quite independent from the day they hatch. Snakes will hunt independently.
Baby snakes are also often able to consume prey that is the same size as them due to their jaw unhinging.
Why do Snakes drink milk at Naag Panchami Indian festival?
The Naag Panchami festival is a significant festival in Hindu culture. It involves the worshipping of snakes to pay respect to Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva was said to love snakes and had a serpent around his neck.
The Hindu people worship snakes, in particular the Indian Cobra as a part of this festival.
Part of this worship involves pouring milk on the Cobras. They also encourage the Cobras to drink milk.
Snakes do drink milk during this festival. But this is because they have been dehydrated for 30-45 days.
The snakes only drink the milk to quench their thirst, as an act of survival. The cobras do not drink milk out of their own volition. Rather, they are extremely dehydrated and malnourished.
Indeed, a snake would drink soda or coffee if it was the only liquid available and they’re extremely dehydrated!
If a snake does not get access to water for too long, it will die. Milk does not replace water in this instance.
What are Milk Snakes?
Milk snakes are a species of non-venomous snake. They are a very popular pet, due to their easy-going nature and low maintenance.
They are brightly coloured, and often have a white banding around their body.
They are primarily found in North America and enjoy the forests and woods.
Do Milk Snakes Drink Milk?
Milk snakes do not drink milk. They drink water.
Many people believe milk snakes consume milk due to their name. However, they are like many other snakes in that they will usually only drink water.
An interesting fact about milk snakes is that although they do not drink milk, they do tend to be cannibalistic, and will eat other milk snakes or species of snake if they are enclosed together.
How did Milk Snakes get their Name?
Milk snakes were named as a result of folklore. The story was told that villagers saw the milk snakes slithering into the sheds to drink milk from the cow’s udders.
This is physically impossible, as snakes do not have lips. Many people believe the farmers made this up to explain the lack of milk their cows produced.
The milk snakes were entering the barn to eat the mice and rats, not drink the milk.
Should you Feed your Pet Snake Milk?
No, a snake should not be fed milk. The snake may drink the milk if they are very thirsty, but it is not good for them.
Milk can cause many digestive issues for a snake. If this was continued the snake could possibly pass away from the stress on the digestive tract.
If a snakes is a pet, it should be provided with a water bowl. This bowl should be big enough to enable the snake to lay in the bowl as well as drink from it if needed.
Note: Snakes are very picky about water. Pet snakes might need their water to be replaced every 2nd day if you want to encourage them to drink water.
If someone is concerned about their pet snake getting enough water, they can check easily. If a snake’s neck area is grasped firmly it should return back to normal when released. If the snake’s skin does not return to its original state, then the snake is dehydrated and needs water.
Snakes are not able to consume milk due to their lack of the appropriate enzymes. Snakes only drink water to hydrate.
During the Hindu festival Naag Panchami snakes may be observed drinking milk. This is a response to extreme dehydration. The snakes in this festival are not provided with water for many days.
If a snake is a pet it should be provided with a large water dish with fresh water to enable the snake to drink when needed.
Mother snakes do not produce milk for their young. Snakes are predator animals who are born with the instinct to hunt.
Despite their name, milk snakes do not drink milk. This name is the result of a myth. Milk snakes like all other snakes should only drink water.