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What Do Milk Snakes Eat? (Voles, Mice & More)

what do milk snakes eat

Milk snakes eat a myriad of things including rodents, lizards, birds, snake eggs, bird eggs, and even other snakes. In the wild, a milk snake can even eat venomous snakes like the rattlesnake.

In the wild, milk snakes eat almost everything. They also eat insects, amphibians, and other reptiles. However, in captivity, pet owners of milk snakes typically feed them only pinky mice (newborn mice that haven’t developed fur yet).

Please consult your local snake breeder or a veterinarian before deciding what food to feed your pet snake. You should never feed your pet snake any wild animals, and snakes in captivity often have a different diet from the diet of wild snakes.

Foods That Milk Snakes Eat

Milk snakes are carnivores that do not have venom. They belong to the colubrid family, and they typically live in forested regions. As such, the milk snake would eat animals commonly found in its habitat.

1. Voles

vole

The vole is a small type of rodent that typically burrows underground. They are usually found in North America, and they go by the names of meadow mice and field mice. 

There are 155 species of voles, and they can grow up to 9 inches. There is a huge population of voles because a mating pair can produce 100 more in just one year. As such, milk snakes like them because they are abundant in their habitats.

2. Mice and Rats

mice

Mice and rats are not the same. Rats are bigger than mice. Both of these, however, are pests. They often live where there is food, and this is why they are found in urban areas where humans live. They are also common in fields and granaries where there is an abundant supply of grains.

Only adult milk snakes eat mice and rats. The small ones are not big enough to eat these mammals. In captivity, pets snake owners only feed adult rats to their milk snakes once every five or seven days.

3. Lizards

lizard

There are many types of lizards, not just the ones that people see in their homes. Examples of these are iguanas, chameleons, geckoes, skinks, and wall lizards.

While milk snakes eat lizards, lizards are typically small, with the exception of monitor lizards and the big ones that look like a dragon. In the wild, it is typical for a juvenile milk snake to target lizards. However, adults would rather feed on bigger prey like mice.

4. Rattlesnakes

western diamondback rattlesnake

The milk snake is a species of the kingsnake. Kingsnakes are called so because they eat other snakes. On top of that, the main diet of kingsnakes is other snakes.

Read More: Are Milk Snakes and King Snakes the Same Species?

Although there is no recorded video of a milk snake eating a rattlesnake, experts agree that they do eat rattlesnakes in the wild.

5. Eggs

bird nest with eggs

Be it a juvenile or an adult milk snake, it’s going to eat eggs. It is typical for a milk snake to eat chicken eggs, lizard eggs, and the eggs of other snakes. In the wild, snakes may also attack the eggs of dangerous birds of prey including raptors and owls.

FAQs

Do Milk Snakes Eat Rattlesnakes?

Yes, milk snakes eat rattlesnakes. Since a milk snake is a species of the kingsnake, it is going to attack a rattlesnake if it is hungry and if one is available in its habitat.

Some people mistake the milk snake for a rattlesnake. Milk snakes can also produce rattle with their tails. They do this when they are stressed or when they are facing danger.

Do Milk Snakes Eat Other Snakes?

Yes, milk snakes eat other snakes occasionally, though they mainly feed on rodents and other mammals.

The common observation is that the young milk snakes seem to prefer to feed on other young snakes in the wild. Milk snakes Are not afraid of most other snakes. They eat coral snakes and rattlesnakes in the wild.

Do Milk Snakes Eat Mice? 

In the wild, mice make up a large part of Milk Snakes’ diets. Since milk snakes live in rainforests, there is an abundance of mice in their habitats. In captivity, it’s also common for pet owners to feed mice to their pet milk snakes.

Do Milk Snakes Eat Crickets? 

Yes, milk snakes eat crickets and other types of insects. However, only the young milk snakes would do this because they are small. Adult milk snakes do not eat crickets because it’s a waste of their energy. Adults would rather eat big prey like mice and other rodents.

If there is nothing else, then yes, an adult milk snake would eat a cricket for a snack. However, the hunting is not over. An adult milk snake needs to eat at least one adult mouse every five or seven days.

Do Milk Snakes Eat Worms?

Yes, milk snakes eat worms. However, only the young milk snakes eat such small prey. Young milk snakes also eat slugs. 

As the young milk snake grows, it eventually graduates to bigger prey. For example, juvenile milk snakes would feed on lizards. But then, they eventually start looking for small mammals like voles and rats once they become an adult. Adult milk snakes also eat frogs and fish if it’s available in their environment.

Do Milk Snakes Eat Eggs? 

Yes, milk snakes eat eggs. It’s not unusual for them to eat the eggs of lizards, eggs of other snakes, and the eggs of birds.

In rural areas, they typically eat the eggs of chickens. Their name came from a belief that they were stealing milk from farmers cows. This is not true. Milk snakes do not drink milk.

Milk snakes are commonly found in barns because most farmers that have cows also have chickens. And because it is a farm, it’s not unusual that there are many rats and mice in the area. The mice and the eggs are what attract milk snakes in the first place, not the milk of the cows.

Conclusion: What Do Milk Snakes Eat?

Milk snakes are a species of kingsnake. As carnivores, they eat everything that they come across in their path. However, like all other snakes, they only attack prey that they could fit in their mouth.

Milk snakes are non-venomous and make great snakes to keep as pets because of their docile nature.

Milk snakes do not have venom. They are part of the Colubridae family, which means that they are constrictors. They bite and latch onto their prey, and then they coil their bodies around them. They kill their preys by stopping the blood flow into the prey’s brain and heart.

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