Milk snake range from Colombia and other northern parts of South America to southern Canada. They thrive in a wide range of habitats, including semi-desert and rainforest. They live high up in the Rockies and are also found in edge habitats, such as where farmland meets woodland. The longest milk snake live in tropical regions. Those that are found in dry or cold areas to the north are barely half the size of their tropical cousins.
Milk snakes are very colourful, with at least 25 different colour variants described so far. Many milk snakes mimic the bold, banded colours of venomous snakes, such as the coral snake, while others have mostly monochrome bodies, usually in tan, black or red. Hatchlings are particularly brightly coloured, but their markings become duller with age.
Milk snakes are nocturnal hunters, preying upon small rodents and amphibians. During the day, they hide out in leaf litter or under a rotting log, and sometimes in damp garbage. They live and hunt alone, but gather in large groups to hibernate together. Milk snake mate while in their winter quarters and the females lay their eggs in early summer. They construct nests under rocks, in tree stumps and in other secluded spots.
Distribution: Southern Canada and United States through Central America to Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela.
Habitat: Desert, grassland and forests.
Food: Invertebrates, amphibians and small rodents.
Size: 0.6 - 0.9 m (2 - 3 ft).
Maturity: 3 - 4 years.
Breeding: 15 eggs laid in summer.
Life span: 21 years.