Milk Snakes not Milkshakes

Milkshake-MilksnakeMilk snakes are not to be confused with a very popular summer-time drink, milkshakes. Even though there is a similarity between the two. After publishing The Guide to Honduran Milksnakes in late 2013 I have come to realize how the human brain actually sees Milksnakes and Milkshakes. There have been many people wondering why anyone would publish a book about milkshakes from Honduras. From comments on social media to one kind woman, actually ordering The Guide to Honduran Milksnakes only to then realizing it was about snakes. Her response to finding out was “ewww!”


Chocolate Milksnake Anyone? Courtesy of Tremendous Tricolors

The only similarity between milk snakes and milkshakes is the unlimited amount of colors and flavors available. You can order milkshakes in many different flavors from pumpkin to chocolate and any flavor in between. If you’re new to milk snakes or even an aficionado there are many different colors and patterns available. The Nelson’s Milk snake, (Lampropeltis triangulum nelsoni) actually has a mutant gene that turns the normal black coloration into a chocolate coloration. In herpetoculture this is called tyrosinase positive or for short, T+. These milksnakes have just recently become available in the US with the first T+ being imported in 2007 from France.


Albino Pumpkin Milksnake Courtesy of Tremendous Tricolors

A very close related milksnake to the Nelson’s milksnkae, the Sinaloan Milksnake or (Lampropeltis triangulum sinaloae) has a mutant gene that causes the normal red coloration to turn a pumpkin orange or even a very light pink. This coloration change is labeled as hypoerythrism or hypoerythristic. Meaning reduced red. These were first discovered by Pete Cragg in 1997. These never really became as popular as the amelanistic Nelson’s Milk Snake but are continually being bred by certain milk snake breeders. No matter if you are looking to cool off with a chocolate milkshake or find your next snake purchase during the summer heat. You are bound to find a flavor or color to tickle your fancy in the world of herpetoculture. In the next few years there are a few breeders that have joined the T+ gene and the hypoerythristic gene to eventually produce the world’s first Chocolate Pumpkin Milksnake! Check out the other crazy colubrids James shares in the Colubrid Corner of HerpHouseMag!
Editors Note: In honor of our addiction to coffee here at RAG we’d also like to remind you July 26th is National Coffee Milkshake Day!

James Tintle