follow us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on YouTube link to us on LinkedIn
Click here for Freedom Breeder Cages
Professional Cages & Rack Systems
Made in the USA - Freedom Breeder
Locate a business by name: click to list your business
search the classifieds. buy an account
events by zip code list an event
Search the forums             Search in:
News & Events: Indian Star Tortoises . . . . . . . . . .  Herp Photo of the Day: Basilisk . . . . . . . . . .  ReptiCon Birmingham - Jan. 20-21, 2018 . . . . . . . . . .  ReptiCon Baltimore - Jan. 20-21, 2018 . . . . . . . . . .  Colorado Herp Society Meeting - Jan. 20, 2018 . . . . . . . . . .  ReptiCon Orlando - Jan. 27-28, 2018 . . . . . . . . . .  ReptiCon Oklahoma City - Jan. 27-28, 2018 . . . . . . . . . .  New England Reptile Expo - Jan. 28, 2018 . . . . . . . . . .  Calusa Herp Society Meeting - Feb. 01, 2018 . . . . . . . . . .  ReptiCon Jackson - Feb. 03-04, 2018 . . . . . . . . . .  ReptiCon Charleston - Feb. 03-04, 2018 . . . . . . . . . .  Jacksonville Herp Society Meeting - Feb. 03, 2018 . . . . . . . . . . 

full banner - advertise here $.50/1000 views year
Click here for Freedom Breeder Cages
pool banner - $25 year
New Mexico Milksnake
Big Bend Milksnake

Lampropeltis triangulum celaenops

  • Hatchling: 6 - 8 in.
  • Adult: 24 - 36 in.(normal)

  • Dorsal: 21 - 25 rows
  • Ventral: avg. of 202, 198 - 207
  • Sub caudal: 60
  • Infra labial:8 - 11
  • Supra labial: 7
  • Anal Plate: Single

Photo by Troy Hibbitts
click to enlarge

Written by Troy Hibbitts

Common Name:
Big Bend or New Mexico Milksnake

Scientific Name:
Lampropeltis triangulum celaenops

Hatchling: 6 - 10 inches
Adult: 16 - 36 inches

Dorsal: Usually 21 scale rows at the neck and midbody, reducing to 19 or 17 at the vent.
Ventral: 179 - 190 in males, 170 - 194 in females
Subcaudald: 40 - 53 in males, 41 - 42 in females (only 2 sampled)
infralabials: 7 - 9 (usually 9)
Supralabials: 6 - 7 (usually 7)
Anal Plate: Single


The head is usually black except for white mottling on the supralabials, the internasals, and sometimes part of the frontals. Some specimens have much more extensive white on their heads, especially on thier snouts, temporals and supralabials. On occasional individuals, there are scattered red flecks in the black area of the head; rarely, individualswill have large red patches or extensively red heads.

From 17 to 25 triads of red, black and white; the average is 21. The white rings are usually about one and a half to 3 scales wide, the black rings range from one and a half to 3 scales wide, and the red body rings usually are from 2 to 5 scales wide.

Many celaenops have white rings of intense "styrofoam white", unmarred by black flecking. In some specimens, the light rings are cream to yellow in color, while on some individuals the white rings are heavily invaded with black flecking, producing a grayish color. The red, too, varies from individual to individual, as well as between populations. In some specimens, the red is a vivid "candy-apple" or "fire-engine" color, in others it can be fairly dull to nearly brown, while still other specimens have a very deep red color.

Several anerythristic specimens have been collected, and these pattern variants are being bred commercially.

The white dorsal rings generally cross the ventral surfaces uninterrupted, while the red rings are bordered on the edges of the ventrals by black pigment producing a central light area, which in many specimens is invaded by black, although usually not as dark as in annulata.:


Celaenops can be found from April to late October or early November. It is usually only surface active at night. Only very few celaenops are field collected under rocks, usually from April through May. My wife Marla caught a gravid female under a rock near San Angelo in mid-May, and my dad and brother caught two males in the same area on April 1. All were collected under limestone rocks. The primary method of finding celaenops is to find them crossing roads at night or on road cuts.

Celaenops can be nervous and jumpy snakes, although most settle down in captivity quite nicely. One of my wild-caught females calmly accepted a pre-killed fuzzy mouse from my hands only days after capture.


Celaenops require a 3 month brumation period in order to stimulate breeding, much like other temperate species of kingsnakes. Breeding will usually commences shortly after the animals are warmed up. The male will usually bite the female behind the head while copulating, and copulation can occur for an extended period of time (several hours). A clutch of 2 to 9 eggs will be laid 30-40 days after fertilization. Egg size (and therefore neonate size) depends largely upon the size of the female. Incubation usually takes about 60 days at 82 degrees Farhenheit.


This subspecies is found from west-central Texas (Abeline/San Angelo areas) west through the Trans Pecos of Texas and throughout much of New Mexico, including the eastern plains of New Mexico and the Mesilla Valley. Scattered records exist for much of New Mexico, and the exact range of this subspecies is not well defined. Celaenops probably also extends into northern Mexico; however, no records for this subspecies exist for that country.

Specimens from San Angelo and Abeline have been considered by many authorities to be either annulata or annulata/gentilis intergrades. The ten specimens from this region that I have examined all appear to be much closer to celaenops than any other form. Celaenops intergrades with gentilis throughout the center of the Texas Panhandle. Records of celaenops from extreme northwestern New Mexico are considered to be taylori/celaenops intergrades. Recent specimens of milksnake collected in extreme southwestern New Mexico and southeaster Arizona are not identifiable to any subspecies; they may represent populations of celaenops or an entirely new subspecies.


Celaenops seems to prefer rocky grassland habitats throughout its range, although it ranges up into the pinyon/juniper region of Texas' and New Mexico's mountains, and down Chihuahuan thornscrub along the Rio Grande from Lozier Canyon to Presidio County, Texas. It is also common in sandy deserts of the northeastern Trans-Pecos of Texas and eastern New Mexico. In rocky areas, it is found primarily on limestone and igneous substrates.


Most wild celaenops probably eat mostly lizards: Skinks (Eumeces), Fence Lizards (Sceloporus, Uta, and Urosaurus), earless lizards (Cophosaurus, Holbrookia), and whiptails (Cnemidophorus). Small snakes (Tantilla, Sonora, and Leptotyphlops) are also eaten, as are small mice (Perognathus, Chaetodipus, and Peromyscus). In captivity, juveniles can usually be started easily on meals of lizard-scented pinks, and can usually be switched to unscented mice in short order. Wild caught adults typically feed readily on pre-killed lab mice (fuzzies or small weanlings).
Literature Cited:

Conant, R. and J.T. Collins. 1991. Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern/Central North America. Houghton Mifflin, Co., Boston.

Deghenhart, W.G., C.W. Painter, and A.H. Price. 1996. Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Williams, K.L. 1988. Systematics and natural history of the American milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum), 2nd revised edition . Milwaukee Public Museum.

Photo by Troy Hibbitts
Click to Enlarge

Photo by Troy Hibbitts
Click to Enlarge

Gallery Photo by alterna63
Click to Enlarge

Gallery Photo by coils
Click to Enlarge

Gallery Photo by Jeff Barringer
Click to Enlarge

Gallery Photo by John Fraser
Click to Enlarge

Photo by Patton
Click to Enlarge

Photo by Samantha Bottoms
Click to Enlarge
Sponsored Link
Click here for LLL Reptile & Supply
advertise here
New & Updated Business Listings
Looking for a reptile or amphibian related business? A reptile store, breeder, importer, maunfacturer or supplier? Our business directory lists some of the most popluar herp businesses in the world.
Locate a reptile or amphibian business by name:
• Patrick Flanigan, Esquire -...
•  Pittsburgh Reptile Show & ...
• Reptiles Lounge
• Snake Morphology
• Reptile Encounters - Austra...
• Black Pearl Reptiles
• Best Exotics LLC
• New York Worms
• LLLReptile and Supply Las V...
• Patrick Flanigan, Esquire -...
• Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc.
• Snake Morphology
• Pinellas County Reptiles
• Trempers Lizard Ranch
• Helix Controls Inc.
• California Zoological Suppl...
• Reptile Encounters - Austra...
• - Ron Trem...
list your business on

Recent Milk Snake Forum Forum Posts
• Finally after 86 days..., posted by sballard
• Late season treat...., posted by sballard
• Looking for a central plains milk snake, posted by dolphinvolley
• Conant's Milk Snake, posted by fetusdeletus
• Another year of..., posted by sballard
• First time hatching..., posted by sballard
• Eastern Milk, posted by drapert
• Honduran milksnakes, posted by Westicles
• Did I get lucky on this breeding? Hondur, posted by Slayer311
• attn: Gerryg How are your milks?, posted by AaronBayer
• Wanted: Black Milk Snake (gaigeae), posted by LawsonHopper
• southern Honduras L.t. stuarti..., posted by sballard
• South American Milksnake Hatchlings, posted by nategodin
• Coyuca de Benitez locality..., posted by sballard
• Central Nicaraguan high yellow..., posted by sballard

Recent Milk Snake Classifieds:
- Juvenile TriColor Hondur...
- WANTED Your Captive Bre...
- Albino Honduran Milk Sna...
- WANTED Looking to purcha...
- Now BUYING Captive Bred ...
- Wanted Entire Clutches
- WANTED Milksnakebabies o...
- Halloween for New Years
- 2017 C B Honduran Milk S...
- 2017 C B Albino Honduran...

Banner Pool
Click here for TortoiseTown
$100.year special flat rate banner! - click for info

Reptile & Amphibian Events
Expos, club meetings, symposiums, and other events are great places to network with other herpers. Check out the detailed or state by state event lists by clicking here!.
Submit a non-profit event - Purchase a commercial listing