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Eastern Milk Snake <image courtesy of Dr. Marting J. Rosenberg>

  • Habitat: Woods, meadows, river bottoms, farms and cities
  • Adult body length: 24 - 36 inches
  • Body length at hatching: 5½ - 11 inches
  • Breeding period: June - July
  • Young per year: 2 - 17 eggs
  • Life Expectancy: 21 years
  • Typical foods: small rodents, birds, lizards and snakes (including venomous snakes)
  • The Eastern Milk Snake is closely related to the Black Kingsnake, which also lives in Ohio.


The Eastern Milk Snake is a relatively slender snake. The basic color of this snake is gray to tan. That color is broken with 3, sometimes 5, longitudinal rows of large, dark irregular spots. Some authors refer to these spots as blotches. The spots are reddish-brown or brown and have black borders. Those spots that occur in the middle of the back are much larger than those along the sides.
The Eastern Milk Snake looks something like the venomous Northern Copperhead Snake. They can be separated by the arrangement of the dark color along the back of the snake. Copperhead Snakes have dark bands of color that cross the back, rather than individual spots or blotches.

Overall Range
The Eastern Milk Snake ranges throughout much of the northeastern United States from Maine southward in the Appalachians, and westward to parts of Minnesota and Iowa.
Range in Ohio
In Ohio this snake has been found in central, southern, and northwestern parts of the state.
Eastern Milk Snake Ohio Map

Local Habitat
It lives in a variety of local habitats such as fields, woodlands, rocky hillsides and river bottoms. It often occurs on farms, and sometimes it wanders into houses.


The Eastern Milk Snake suffers from one of the myths about snakes, that it milks cows. That belief/story plainly is not true. Also, people sometimes kill Eastern Milk Snakes because of their resemblance to the Northern Copperhead Snake.
Actually, the Eastern Milk Snake is a beneficial animal, especially on farms. It actively seeks out and feeds on mice and other small rodents that infest barns and other farm buildings.
The Eastern Milk Snake usually is secretive and hides under objects such as logs, boards and stones.


ODNR, Division of Wildlife, "Species A-Z Guide"

Ohio History Central, "Eastern Milk Snake "

Umass Extension

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The Ohio Historical Society (OHS)
Date of last revision: 06/25/2003
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