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How to Identify a Milk Snake on Your Brampton Property?

Updated: Sep 2


If you live in Brampton, Ontario, chances are that you’ve heard of the milk snake. This species of snake can be found throughout southern Canada and is often mistaken for other nonvenomous snakes or even copperheads! To help you identify a milk snake if you see one in your yard, let’s take a look at what they look like and how to tell them apart from other snakes.




 





What Does a Milk Snake Look Like?

Milk snakes typically measure between two and three feet in length and have black rings on their backs. These rings encompus blotchy reddish brown patches running down the length of their bodies. The head is usually slightly darker than the rest of the body, with the neck being lighter than the rest of it. Their bellies are usually yellowish or cream coloured with dark spots.



Milk Snake Identification
Milk Snake Identification

 



 


How Do You Tell It Apart From Other Snakes?

The most important thing to remember is that milk snakes are not venomous, so do not be alarmed if you see one! To tell a milk snake apart from other types of nonvenomous snakes, such as rat snakes or garter snakes, look at its coloration—the combination of black-and-white rings on its back should be enough to tell it apart from other species. Additionally, the red stripes running down its body will help distinguish it further; no other North American snake has this combination of colours. Finally, check for a light-coloured “Y” shape on its head—this is another unique feature that only milk snakes possess.


 


If you encounter a small greyish snake with a mix of brown and red patches outlined in black down its body while out in your Brampton yard or on a nature hike, don’t panic—it could just be a harmless milk snake! Be sure to check for the “Y” shape on its head and for cream or yellowish belly coloration before determining whether it is indeed a milk snake or something else entirely. As long as you keep an eye out for these features, identifying this species should be relatively easy. Happy trails!




Are There Any Snake Predators in Brampton?


In Brampton, there are a few animals that may prey on snakes if given the opportunity. Some potential snake predators in the area include larger birds of prey like hawks and owls, as well as some mammalian predators like raccoons, skunks, foxes, and domestic cats. These predators may occasionally target snakes as part of their diet.

 



Most Common Snakes In Brampton

In Brampton and Southern Ontario, there are several species of snakes that can be found. Here is a list of the common types of snakes you may encounter in this region, along with a brief description of each:

  1. Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis): This is one of the most common snakes in the area. It has a long, slender body with three distinct yellowish stripes running down its dark-coloured back. Garter snakes are non-venomous and play an essential role in controlling rodent populations.

  2. Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon): The Northern Water Snake is a semi-aquatic species commonly found near bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, and streams. They have dark brown or black bodies with lighter-coloured markings. Although non-venomous, they can be aggressive if threatened.

  3. Eastern Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum): Milk snakes have a pattern of reddish-brown or greyish-black blotches on a lighter background, often resembling the colours of the venomous Massasauga rattlesnake. However, milk snakes are harmless and beneficial to humans, as they prey on rodents.

  4. Eastern Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus): Ribbon snakes are slender and highly active. They have a greenish-brown coloration with a distinct yellow stripe down the back and another on each side. These non-venomous snakes are often found near wetland areas and are excellent swimmers.

  5. Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus): This venomous snake is the only rattlesnake species in Ontario. Massasauga rattlesnakes are usually greyish-brown with a series of dark blotches along the back and sides. They prefer wetlands and have a distinctive rattle on their tail to warn potential threats.

Please note that encountering a snake in the wild can be an exciting experience, but it is important to keep a safe distance and avoid handling or disturbing them. If you come across a snake and are unsure of its identity or behaviour, it is best to observe from a distance or seek assistance from local wildlife authorities.



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