Eastern Milksnake

Lampropeltis triangulum
AKA: Spotted Adder, Puff Adder, Checkered Adder

IdentificationPhoto by Jay Plotkin

The Eastern Milksnake has reddish-brown blotches outlined in black. They become darker with age. They also have a white “Y” (which may be complete or broken) on the back of their head. The milksnake’s underside has a white and black checkerboard pattern. Milksnakes can grow to 2-3 feet long (the longest documented in Vermont is 43 inches) and have smooth scales.  When they feel threatened, milksnakes will vibrate their tails.  As a result they are frequently misidentified as rattlesnakes.

Records in Vermont of Lampropeltis triangulum (Eastern Milksnake)

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Range/Habitat

Eastern Milksnakes inhabit old fields, old buildings, stone walls, and ledges. They are widespread at lower elevations in Vermont.

Status

This species has a state natural heritage rank of S5 (common). Please report sightings of this species in Vermont if you have not reported them within the last five years from a given location. Any natural history observations (feeding, migrations, road crossing areas, early or late season appearance, abnormalities, etc.) are appreciated. Photographs are always helpful, particularly if your report is the first report of this species from a town.

Note

The Eastern Milksnake is also known locally as the Spotted or Checkered Adder and is rumored to be venomous, but it is not actually an adder. Adders are a group of old-world vipers and are venomous, but milksnakes are not related to them and are non-venomous.

Unlike most other Vermont snakes, milksnakes lay eggs.  Along with the Eastern Ratsnake, the Eastern Milksnake is one of Vermont’s two constricting snakes.

Additional Photos

Photo by Dan ZehPhoto by M. Dickerson  Photo by C. OvergaardPhoto by K. WrightPhoto by VT Herp AtlasPhoto by VT Herp AtlasPhoto by Bridget Buttler

More Info

Species summary written by Ariel K. Mck. Burgess.