Caring for a Milk Snake

Have you been considering getting a pet snake? If so, you may want to choose a milk snake for your first serpent. Milk snakes are very popular for first-time snake owners, and with good reason. They’re quite gentle and easy to care for, and they don’t usually grow longer than 5 feet. They are also very pretty. While bands of red, black, and white are the most common, you’ll find that milk snakes come in many color combinations. A Minnetonka, MN vet discusses basic milk snake care in this article.

Choosing Your Snake

Picking a healthy snake is very important! Look for signs of sickness and parasites. Run your hands down the snake’s body, and check for swelling, redness, lumps, or feces. You’ll also want to inspect the snake’s head. Bloody smears, mucus, discharge, and mouth breathing can all be warning signs.


You’ll want to get your snake’s habitat ready before you bring the little guy home. Aquariums are fine. You can also get a custom wood/glass enclosure. Avoid anything made of cedar or pine, which are toxic to snakes. Mesh covers are fine, but choose one with very small holes: these pretty snakes can be quite the escape artists!


Once you have the cage or tank, you’ll need to add substrate. Aspen, newspaper, and orchard bark are all suitable options. Avoid using substrates made of pine, cedar, sand, or gravel. You’ll need to provide two hidey-holes, one for each end of the enclosure. One end of the tank should be cooler than the other, so you’ll also need proper heating equipment and a thermometer. These temperatures will have to be carefully monitored, as snakes can get very sick if they get too hot or too cold. Your pet will also need a basking lamp and appropriate lighting. Ask your vet for specific advice, including tips on cleaning the cage.

Food and Water

Your scaled buddy will need fresh, clean water. Pick a bowl that is big enough for your reptilian pal to soak in. You’ll need to change the water and clean the dish every few days. Thawed mice are standard fare for milk snakes, so before adopting one, be sure you can stomach feeding it. Ask your vet for more information.

Please contact us for your snake’s veterinary care needs. As your Minnetonka, MN pet clinic, we are happy to help!

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