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What Is a Honduran Milk Snake?

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  • Written By: L.K. Blackburn
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2018
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The Honduran milk snake is a species of snake found in Central America. Most of their population is concentrated in Honduras, but they are also found in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The snake has a varied habitat and can be found in rain forests, woodlands, and cleared farming regions. It is non-venomous, and kills its prey by constriction. Red, black, and yellow alternating bands make up the snake's coloration pattern.

This snake tends to live near human buildings, such as farms and storage areas, because its primary diet is rodents. Other than rodents, the milk snakes also eat other smaller snakes and small birds. They evade predators by appearing with the same band of coloration as the highly venomous coral snake. When hunting, the milk snake uses its banded color pattern to its advantage, moving quickly back and forth to confuse their prey.

Milk snakes as a species include 17 sub-species. The snakes acquired their name because they were first noticed living in barns with livestock, probably hunting rodents. It was erroneously believed that they fed on milk directly from cow udders.

The Honduran milk snake is nocturnal during the summer months and active during the day in fall and spring. They hibernate during the winter, starting in October and lasting until April or May. Once spring arrives, mating season begins.

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Female milk snakes engage in communal nesting, laying their eggs in one protected area with other milk snakes. They can lay up 18 eggs at one time, and the temperature the eggs incubate at determines the gender of the resulting snake. Hatchlings reach up to 15 inches (38 cm) in length.

The Honduran milk snake can live up to 20 years of age, and reach maturity at around 3 years. Size wise, they can grow up to 5 feet (1.5 m), averaging at around 3 feet (0.9 m). Average weight is 2.8 pounds (1.3 kg). Female milk snakes are generally larger in size than males.

Many milk snakes are kept as pets. They should be housed alone, or with a larger snake. Feeding should occur twice a week, always fed alone without any another snake, and should not be handled for several days after feeding. The cage of a Honduran milk snake should be kept around 85°F (29.4°C). Given the relatively short length of the snake, they can be kept in small enclosures.

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