Scientific name Lampropeltis triangulum gaigeae

Order: Squamata

Husbandry Information

Housing Requirements

  • Minimum 2ft x 3 ft tank.
  • Hide box should be relatively small. This species prefers to squeeze into a tight space rather than a large one.
  • Water bowl should be large enough to soak

Diet Requirements

  • Mice or rats depending on the size of the snake. Feed every two weeks.

Veterinary Concerns

  • Should be kept at 70-80 degrees. If it is kept at 80-85 degrees it will metabolize food much more quickly than other Colubrids and can become overweight very easily
  • Needs a moist environment to aid shedding

Notes on Enrichment & Training

  • If handled frequently this species can be very docile.

Programmatic Information

Tips on Presentation

  • This species is found high in the mountains and is most comfortable at 70-80 degrees. They can be used for outdoor presentations at cooler temperatures than most other snakes.

Tips on Handling

  • This species uses modified constriction to capture prey. Because of this it does not wrap tightly around the handler's arm. Care should be taken to support the body with both hands
  • This is an active, fast moving snake. To handle hold the first third of the body gently in one hand and use the other hand to loop the snake into a figure 8. By continuously switching the position of this hand through these loops the snake keeps moving while the head stays still.

Potential Messaging

  • This species is an example of Batesian mymicry (as a juvenile it has red, black and whitish bands and resembles a coral snake) and ontogenetic color change (by three years old the colors fade to solid black).

Acquisition Information

Comments from the Rating System

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat

Costa Rica and Panama

Wet, high mountain cloud forests from 4,000 to 7,500 feet

Physical Description

Largest milksnake species. Average 48" to 60 ". Some can grow to 72"
Neonates and juveniles have red, black and whitish bands that begin to fade at 6 to 10 months. By three years they are mostly black.
Wide belly scutes provide traction in loose volcanic soils.

Life Cycle

6-18 eggs are laid in summer.
12"-14" at hatching.
Average 10 years in the wild and 15 years in zoos.


Fast-moving species.
Typically docile when handled

Threats and Conservation Status

Least concern

Did you know…

  • Juveniles are coral snake mimics. By about two years they are larger than coral snakes. By three years the color bands fade to black since the mimicry no longer works as well and production of the color pigments is more physiologically expensive.
  • Wide belly bands allow for better traction on loose volcanic soil


Contributors and Citations

  • BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo

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  • Activity Schedule: diurnal, nocturnal, crepuscular
  • Continent of Origin
  • Diet Requirements: carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, etc.
  • General Habitat/Biome: deserts, forests, mountains, etc.