One of the most popular of the milk snake family, Honduran milk snakes combine reasonable size, a docile temperament and stunning colours to make an ideal pet snake. Slightly more shy than their king snake counterparts, their naturally curious nature soon overcomes their reservations and they respond well to frequent, gentle handling.
Like all milk snakes, Hondurans sport their bright colours to imitate the venomous coral snake and copperhead, although they are completely harmless. Although their colour protects them from predators it doesn’t help protect them from humans who mistake them for venomous snakes.
Honduran milk snakes can grow up to 160cm (just over 5 feet), although they are usually a little smaller than this, about 120cm on average. Your snake needs a good sized enclosure, preferably 120cm x 60cm x 60cm (4x2x2’), although 90cm x 45cm x 45cm (3×1.5×1.5’) is fine for a youngster. We recommend using a thermostatically controlled deep heat projector mounted at one end with which you control the ambient temperature to give a hot spot to help them digest their food and encourage normal behaviour. Although it has always been assumed that snakes do not need UV lighting, it is always a good idea to provide it. Low output T5 UV tubes are now available that can mimic the levels of UV that they would be exposed to in the wild, and we have found that when it is provided they will definitely use it.
Even small hatchlings are happy to live in an adult sized enclosure as long as there are plenty of baby-sized hides to keep them feeling safe. Piles of loose cork bark are excellent for this, as are half coconut shells and the smaller resin hides. A humid hide filled with moss and kept in the warm end gives the milk snake its own personal sauna in which to curl up when it’s about to shed its skin.
Temperatures should vary between 30ºC (86ºF) at the warm end to 25ºC (77ºF) at the cool end. Directly under the basking spot it can be a little warmer, but no higher than 35ºC. At night the temperature can drop to 20ºC (68ºF), although if it drops slightly lower there is no cause for alarm. Always use a digital thermometer to measure temperature, never guess.
A variety of different prey items should be offered, sized appropriately for the snake – generally speaking, they can take prey items slightly larger as the largest part of the body. Mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, chicks – quail and chicken – are all available regularly, and should be used to vary your snakes diet.
As they eat whole prey items snakes generally do not need any extra calcium or multivitamin supplementation. UVB light has been assumed to be unnecessary, but its presence in a large, well presented vivarium habitat will definitely enhance your pets quality of life.
Bright, beautiful and easy going – the Honduran milk snake is a great species for both beginner and experienced snake keeper alike!