How Long Do Milk Snakes Get (and How Long it Takes to Grow)?

I have been looking into getting a milk snake but was concerned about how long they grow, and how quickly, so I could get the right tank. I was surprised with the answers.

So, how long do milk snakes get? Milk snakes can range in length between 14 and 69 inches (35 to 175cm) long depending on diet, subspecies, and genetics. However, most pet milk snakes in captivity only grow to an average length of 32 inches (81cm). It takes a milk snake 3 to 4  years to reach its full length.

Milk snakes have a much larger range to their sizes because of the 24 different subspecies that exist. These subspecies range from the Black milk snake, (which is 4 to 6 feet in length) to the Central Plains milk snake. (which only gets to 2 feet in length.)

Milk Snake Length Chart By Age

The following chart shows an approximate average length for a normal milk snake in captivity. Obviously you’ll find many snakes longer and shorter than this, but these numbers show a pretty normal average for a pet milk snake.

Age of Milk SnakeAverage Length of Milk Snake
Newborn12 inches (30.48 centimeters)
6 months17 inches (43.18 centimeters)
1 year19 inches (48.26 centimeters)
1.5 years21 inches (53.34 centimeters)
2 years24 inches (10.16 centimeters)
2.5 years27 inches (68.58 centimeters)
3 years29 inches (73.66 centimeters)
3.5 years31 inches (78.74 centimeters)
4 years32 inches (81.28 centimeters

Milk snakes are incredibly interesting snakes, but there are many questions one might have about these snakes. Questions such as; Do milk snakes make for good pets? Are Milk snakes dangerous? Where are milk snakes found?

Length of Milk Snakes at Birth

Baby milk snakes are very small–usually only about 12-14″ in length. They grow quickly, however, increasing in size rapidly over the first two years of their lives.

You can see a baby milk snake in this video. It’s incredible that it’s thinner than even a ballpoint pen, but slightly longer.

Milk Snakes Are a Great Length for a Pet Snake

Milk snakes are incredibly friendly and fast-reproducing creatures. These creatures will easily breed in captivity between the months of March and May.

A milk snake’s terrarium should be at least 2/3 the length of the snake, so a normal milk snake’s terrarium should be no less than 20″.

In fact, the origin of the name ‘Milk snake’ comes from an old folktale about these snakes wrapping themselves around a cow’s leg to drink straight from the cow’s udders. The myth, while not true, has stuck for many and the snake is left with the name.

Milk snakes are solitary creatures so they won’t be offended if kept in a cage and are mainly nocturnal because they enjoy the cool air and ground that accompanies the night time. When caring for a milk snake there are a couple of things you want to look out for: habitat, temperature, and food.

Habitat

Given their solitary nature, you want to keep a milk snake by itself. At full size, you’ll want at least a 20-gallon terrarium to handle the length of a full-grown milk snake.

Make sure everything in their terrarium is stable so that all their slithering and climbing will go off without a hitch. Having branches or small trees will allow the snake to climb, and be a little more active as they enjoy slithering along through their home.

Additionally, you’ll want to provide them a hideout of some sort. Under a rock of a slab of wood are both good choices. That way your snake can avoid the sun for a bit and relax in the cool environment that it so enjoys.

Temperature

 All snakes are cold blooded so it is important that the temperature 20-gallon within a snakes habitat. For the warm side of the terrarium keep the temperature between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the cool side, keep the temperature between 70-75 degrees. That way wherever your snake is they don’t have to worry about keeping themselves warm. They will still have the ability to experience different temperatures should they so choose.

The larger the terrarium is, the harder it can be to keep up the proper temperatures, so it can be smart to not get too big of a terrarium for the size of your milk snake.

Proper Nutrition Makes a Milk Snake Grow to Full Length

 Milk snakes are carnivores, so feeding them pre-killed mice is the best option. Make sure to thaw the frozen mice, and if your snake needs any extra convincing to eat the mouse move it around a little in the cage. Movement or warming the rodent up are the best ways to attract a snakes attention to their next meal.

When milk snakes are not given the proper nutrition, they may not grow to the full normal length.

Red milk snake screwed. Close up

Are Milk Snakes Safe Pets Even When Fully Grown?

Milk snakes are often confused with copperheads and coral snakes, two very venomous creatures. The reason for this is the milk snake’s natural defense mechanism.

To scare off potential predators milk snakes use mimicry by sharing colors with the more dangerous look-alikes. To tell the difference between copperheads and milk snakes you can look at the blotches of color on their bodies.

Copperheads have distinctive hourglass-shaped stripes running down their bodies whereas Milk snakes have the less distinct pattern of simple stripes

Telling the difference between Coral and Milk snakes is a little harder, as both possess the same non-distinct stripe pattern. The best way to tell them apart is to see which colors touch on the snake’s body, red and yellow are coral snakes. Whereas, the milk snake has red and black stripes. This can be remembered by the rhyme. Red on Yellow, kills a fellow; Red on Black, a friend of Jack.

While not poisonous, Milk snakes will still bite if provoked. However, outside of surprising you, there is not much damage a milk snake can do with its nonvenomous bite.

Milk Snakes in Natural Environments Vary in Length

Milk snakes live in a larger range area than most other snakes do. They have the longest range of any North American snake. They stretch from as far north as Ontario and Quebec in Canada, to as far south as Venezuela in South America. In North America, milk snakes rarely grow larger than 51 inches, which is longer than a typical milk snake in captivity.

Given this range, Milk snakes are highly adaptable and are able to live in a multitude of biomes and environments. From forests to rocky plains these reptiles are able to live off the land fairly easily, keeping themselves safe through the mimicry of poisonous creatures and using their large size to capture smaller prey.

Given their nocturnal nature, Milk snakes spend most of their time keeping cool during the day under rocks and the roots of a tree, where they wait until night to strike out at their sleeping prey.

Related Questions

How big are newborn milk snakes once they hatch out of the egg? Milk snakes start off large, being 6 to 17 inches out of the egg. They continue to grow at a steady pace over the next 3 to 4 years, where they hit maturity and have reached their greatest length.

How long do milk snakes live? Milk snakes are incredibly long-lived creatures. They live up to an average of 22 years in captivity, and no one knows how long they live up to in the wild.

How big do eastern milk snakes get? Eastern milk snakes grow to be about 2 feet to 3 feet in length on average. The maximum length for an eastern milk snake was found in Virginia at 52 inches.

Connor

Connor is a nerd to the highest degree. Having grown up on comic, StarWars, and Lord of the Rings he found that stories were his passion. Throughout his life, he has softened life's falls with the hardcover of a book. Writing has become a passion for Connor, no matter the subject, as he loves how words can be used in so many different and persuasive combinations.

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