This is a tri-colored snake. Its body pattern is made up of alternating bands of 3 different colors.
Usually these colors are black, red/orange, and white/yellow. Superficially this snakes coloration
resembles that of the venomus coral snake. However, coral snakes are not native to Utah and
their white and red bands touch each other. The white and yellow bands of milk snakes are separated by black bands.
Size:Hatchling - 6-8", Adults 18-36".
Similar Snakes:Utah Mountain Kingsnakes - look very similar to Utah milk snakes.
The best way to tell these species apart is by counting ventral scales and white bands.
Generally, Mountain Kings have > 205 ventral scales and greater than 38 white bands on the body.
The white bands on the tail shouldn't be counted.
Utah milksnakes generally have less than 200 ventral scales and less than 38 white bands on the body. Longnose Snakes also exhibit a red black and white pattern but each of their scales
are tipped with white giving them a speckled appearence. They also have an upturned nose. Valley Gartersnake These snakes often have red black and yellow coloration. However instead of verticle bands
circling the body they have yellow and black stripes running the length of the body with red spots on the black stripes. Ground Snake: These snakes are generally red/orange and black in Utah. They are very small with an an overall length of usually
less than 12 inches. The missing whitish/yellow bands are the easiest way to differentiate these snakes from milk snakes.
Habitat and Range in Utah
These snakes exist in a wide variety of habitats from desert scrub, to grassland, to scrub oak to pinion/juniper.
Throughout most of their range they are most often found in gravelly or sandy soils. They are not known for areas
with thick clay or hardpan. They exist throughout Utah at elevations between 4000 and 7500 feet.
Surface Water doesn't seem to be an important element to their habitat. I have found them many miles from surface water.
Milksnakes are almost entirely nocturnal and fossorial.
This means they are rarely found abroad durring the day.
Most records of this species come from animals found under rocks,
dug out of the ground, or found on roads or trails at night.
Their is a strong correlation between their surface movement and dark and humid conditions.
One of the best times to find these serpents seems to be before and after evening thunderstorms.
Most specimens found under rocks have been found early in the spring in April and May.
In Utah this species has been documented eating lizards, reptile eggs, and rodents.
In other areas of the west they have been known to eat snakes as well.
Known predators include owls, racoons, and house cats.
Reproduction and Life history
Reproduction: Males and Females are likely not able to reproduce until their third spring.
Clutch sizes have been recorded in Utah between 2 and 7 eggs.
Hatchlings are usually observered in early September.
Status in Utah
The status of this species is stable. In the last 10 years
this species has been documented in many new localities. This snake also appears
to be present in most of its historical localities as well.
Alteration of habitat and elimination of prey items are the biggest threats to this snake.
This species is at a controlled status in Utah.
This means collection is not allowed without a COR (Certificate of Registration).
COR applications are available from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR).
However, there is no gaurantee that an application will award you a COR.
The DWR will alot a set number of pre-approved COR's for this species in 2008.
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