last changes: Sunday, January 06, 2008

      Keeping and Breeding of the

      Campbells Milk Snake

    Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli

    My 10 years old male. In his younger years he were more pretty...


The species Lampropeltis triangulum (milk snakes) has in America a huge distribution area and aprox. 26 subspecies (Williams, 1978). They occure in the south east of Canada over great parts of East and Middle USA, parts of Mexico, great parts of Middle America down to the North West of South America. The ssp. campbelli from Mexico lives in my terraria. There you can find them in south Puebla, in bordering east Morelos and in northern Oxaca in elevations of aprox. 1500 m. The animals grow aprox. to 80-90 cm and are black/white/red ringed. The snout is black with a little white marking (mostly an small U). Normaly they have 16 red and 16 white rings and 32 black rings. On the tail there are 5 black and white rings, the red are absent here. In aging the white rings become darker up to a grey wash. One colorvariant is the apricot-phase, wich have apricot color instead of the white rings. Their first description was in 1983 and the first years after its first find it was one of the rarest snake on earth. The prices of the first captive bred animals were horrible. When I walk around on reptiles fairs today and add the numbers of c.b. Campbelli - I think, we now have more Campbelli in our terraria than occure in the wild. And the actual prices are a „little“ lower than in the eighties.

Keeping and behavior

This pretty snake prefer temperatures between 24 and 26 °C, warmer places they visit only after feeding. In my terrarium I keep them in a pair. The snakes are regulary in their hiding places and crawl around more seldomly. My animals can be taken out of the terrarium by hand without been bitten, but very handtame they are not. For keeping an adult pair together is a medium sized enclosure enough, the young snakes I keep in tiny terrariums or boxes. For ground gravel I mostly use pressed straw, like used for cats. Earth or gravel from the terraria supplier is good, too. I use smoth gravel, wich can’t damage the stomach or bowels if eaten with the the food. In the terrarium of the adult snakes there are no climbing branches any more, my animals only climbed when they were young. Greater pieces of corkbark or small boxes I use for hiding places. Further I use a waterbowl made of tone, but only for drinking, my animals never took a bath. Sometimes before the sheding I spray a little water or I keep the hidingbox moist. My campbellis grew up one by one and I put them together in breeding age. I never saw any mood for cannibalism, but one time I lost an adult female because of strangling by its mate in fight for a mouse.


My animals get one time a week 1-2 medim sized mice. For the snakes it is the same wether eating defrosted or alive mice. Irregulary I put a drop of multivitamin-liquid on the food. The snakes never take notice for the vitamins and are in best conditions.


You should hibernate them 2-3 month at 5-15°C. It is helpful for the fathering ability. But, too, shorter hibernations or brunations led to fertil clutches.


In spring the ilumination durination and heating slowly reach the normal times. My animals stay together and I feed them regulary -up to 2 times a week, so the animals become strong again quickly. The male eat less in the beginning of mating season. Mostly after the first shed of the female the first cpulations begin. After the mating season the male begin to eat regulary. The gravid female eats a lot and enlarge in the next time. After aprox. 2 month the egglaying begins. 5-10 eggs is a typical cluch size of my animals. Pre egglaying, egglaying and breeding is similar to the facts written down on the page -My Pituophis- . In optimal years with enough food a second clutch in late summer is possible. Av. 60-65 days after egglaying my young snakes begin to hatch.

Young Snakes

 The hatched snakes I put into a tiny terrarium or a plastic box. After hatch they have aprox. 20 cm and have a coloration similar to their parents. But the red is very colorful and the white rings are shiny yellow in youth. The yellow rings convert in the second year to a creamy white. For first food I give after the first shed defrosted nestyoung mice. Most of these animals take this food without problems, but a few don‘t eat. After some time of hunger and some tricks (snake and a live mouse in a small box, slit off a (dead) mouse a.s.o.) the rest of the hatchlings begin to eat. I don’t like to force feed. The further rearing is without problems, I feed them all 3-5 days with small mice.

Maturity, Lifespan

Depending on amount of food and animal quality the maturity begins in the 3. or 4. year. Maturity in the second year is an exeption. The campbellis normaly reach an age of 12-15 years.

My snakes

In my terraria live since 1999 a proofed breeding pair of different blood lines.

Empfehlenswerte Literatur

(Only exaples from Germany, here the market is great)

Kingsnakes and Milksnakes from the Bede-Verlag (THF) (Americ. or German version)

Königsnattern from Thissen/Hansen from the Verlag Terraristik aktuell (German)

Milksnakes from Mr. Bob Applegate from the Advanced Vivarian Systems (American)

All 3 books are very good, but for german laws and regulations „some details of housing“ of the books must be converted. Some field-informations you can get of the Field Guides , wich I wrote down at the page -Books- . But for Mexican highland animals the informations are very rare.

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