Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)

Sub-order Serpentes, Family Colubridae

Coastal Plain Milksnake
Lampropeltis triangulum elapsoides X triangulum

Coastal Plain Milksnake Photo courtesy of John White
Coastal Plain Milksnake Photo courtesy of John White

Size

24 - 36 inches. Record - 52 inches.

Appearance

  • This snake is currently considered an intergrade between the Scarlet Kingsnake and the Eastern Milksnake, though taxonomic and genetic work is ongoing.

  • Arguably our prettiest snake, specimens exhibit a wide variety of patterns and colors.

  • Diagnostic features include:
    1) a light neck collar and
    2) the typically reddish blotches bordered in black which occur on the back reach the belly scales on the forepart of the body,
    but do not continue across the entire belly (like in the Scarlet Kingsnake).

  • Scales not keeled.

  • Coastal Plain Milksnake Photo courtesy of Corey Wickliffe
    Coastal Plain Milksnake Photo courtesy of Corey Wickliffe

    Close-up Photo of Coastal Plain Milksnake courtesy of John White
    Close-up Photo of Coastal Plain Milksnake courtesy of John White

    Habitats

    Little is known about how this snake’s habitat preferences differ from the species from which it derives. Specimens have been found in agricultural fields near woodlands and in open pine and mixed hardwood-pine forests, typically with sandy soils. Primarily found on the coastal plain, with the largest known populations in St. Mary’s and Calvert counties.

    How to Find

    Look under coarse woody debris in open mixed woods and on the edges of woods and agricultural fields. This snake is non-venomous. There is considerable individual variation on whether
    they will bite when handled.

    Habitat photo for Coastal Plain Milksnake courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
    Habitat photo for
    Coastal Plain Milksnake
    courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers

    Distribution in Maryland

    Found only on the Coastal Plain.

    Maryland Distribution Map for Coastal Plain Milksnake

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    Maryland Amphibian
    and Reptile Atlas Project

    "A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

    For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

    The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.