Black Milk Snake

The Black Milk Snake is native to parts of Central America and it is the largest sub-species of Milk Snake.

Black Milk Snake

Black Milk Snake Taxonomy

In the Animal Kingdom, Taxonomy is used as the science and practice of classifying different species and sub-species based on their biological and genetic makeup.


The Black Milk Snake belongs to the Colubridae or Colubrid family of snakes. This is the largest family of Snakes in the world consisting of many popular species such as Corn Snakes and Pine Snakes.

With around 250 different genera of Colubrids, these snakes can be found on every continent except Antarctica which also makes them the most widely distributed family of snake in the world.

The vast majority of Colubrid snakes are non-venomous, or at least contain a venom that isn’t considered to be medically significant to humans.

However, there are a number of species of Colubrid snakes that contain venom capable of killing humans. This includes species from the Boiga and Rhabdophis genera as well as other snakes such as the Boomslang.


The Black Milk Snake belongs to the Lampropeltis genus. This genus contains the New World Kingsnakes and Milk Snakes. 

The scientific name ‘Lampropeltis’ comes from the Greek words ‘lampro’ and ‘pelte’ which loosely translates to ‘shiny shield’. This is a reference to these snake’s smooth, enamel-like dorsal scales.


The Black Milk Snake is a sub-species of Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum). There are currently 24 recognised sub-species of Milk Snake. 

Many experts argue that many of the Milk Snake sub-species should be reclassified to full species status. If this happens, the Milk Snake ‘species’ might get upgraded to genera level with the sub-species reclassified as full species.

The scientific name for this species is Lampropeltis triangulum gaigeae.

Some of the other common species of Milk Snake include the Eastern Milk Snake, Honduran Milk Snake, Mexican Milk Snake, Nelson’s Milk Snake and Pueblan Milk Snake.

Black Milk Snake Description

The Black Milk Snake is the largest of all the Milk Snakes. These snakes can grow to around 5-6 feet in length.

Even a hatchling is huge and can be over one foot in length. At this age, they have a typical Milk Snake appearance consisting of red, black and yellow crossbands.

As the snakes shed, they will begin to lose their color. This happens over time as the snake grows and matures towards adulthood.

As adults, these snakes are almost jet black in color. Their smooth scales reflect light, producing an iridescence like a Brazilian Rainbow Boa.

Natural Habitat and Distribution

The Black Milk Snake is native to parts of Costa Rica and Panama. These snakes are mainly found at high altitudes in the cloud forests of the region.

It is reported that these snakes live at altitudes of 5,000 to 7,400 feet in Costa Rica and 4,300 to 6,500 feet in Panama.

These habitats are cooler than the ones found at lower elevations. Humidity is also very high in this area.

Black Milk Snake Behaviour

Many species of Milk Snake can be very skittish and a bit nippy especially when they are young.

However, these snakes are far more docile and easier to handle from a young age. Their larger size as hatchlings may contribute to their less skittish behaviour.

They are a nocturnal species meaning they are more active during the night. However, when it is wet and cool during the day, they may venture out.

To avoid the intense heat of hot days, they will retreat to the shade where they will hide under logs, in rock crevices or other cool areas.