L. t. gaigae, black milksnake keepers

P.jasonius

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 19, 2006
Messages
423
I recently adopted a new addition to the fam, a black milksnake. This is my second snake, the first being a ball python, but I haven't had a snake in about ten years. I've read about a half dozen caresheets, on milksnakes and cornsnakes, but wanted the shared experience of owners/keepers.
My setup:
24" X 12" X 12"
Coconut fiber bedding, with a twisted root (mori?) and water dish (with steps).
Cobra heat mat is under 1/3 of the tank, and the snake seems to regulate fairly well, as find him in various places around the tank, not just on the cold side.
I am going to construct another hide for him this weekend, out of some sample stone from a stone company near here. Father-in-Law has the camera right now, but will post pics this weekend.
Criticism, inquiry, advice, and pics posted of your own milksnakes are welcome.
 

Zarathustra

Arachnosquire
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
106
I recently adopted a new addition to the fam, a black milksnake. This is my second snake, the first being a ball python, but I haven't had a snake in about ten years. I've read about a half dozen caresheets, on milksnakes and cornsnakes, but wanted the shared experience of owners/keepers.
My setup:
24" X 12" X 12"
Coconut fiber bedding, with a twisted root (mori?) and water dish (with steps).
Cobra heat mat is under 1/3 of the tank, and the snake seems to regulate fairly well, as find him in various places around the tank, not just on the cold side.
I am going to construct another hide for him this weekend, out of some sample stone from a stone company near here. Father-in-Law has the camera right now, but will post pics this weekend.
Criticism, inquiry, advice, and pics posted of your own milksnakes are welcome.

If the snake is a hatchling, then I think the cage size is fine. Everything else seems fine too. (I would go with aspen bedding, but I have never tried coconut.) Depending on the temperature of the room, the heat pad might not even be necessary, but it probably doesn’t hurt either. I’ve kept mine in a room that is high 60’s-low 70’s, with no supplemental heat, and I never had a problem.

Great choice, by the way! :clap: They are really awesome snakes. Probably my favorite colubrid.
 

AviculariaLover

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
Oct 20, 2006
Messages
279
Congrats on the new addition :clap:

I have two eastern milk snakes, and would love to get a different variety. Your set up sounds good, but it will end up needing a bigger tank. One of mine is in a tank about that size now, and I'm going to upgrade before the lil guy reaches three feet. I'm not sure if there are many temperment differences between species but mine just love to zoom around their tanks, the twisted root sounds good, they love to climb and explore things. Milksnakes are great, and they're all so beautiful.

Can't wait to see pics of the setup and the snake {D

These are mine:
(the weird rope stuff is a parrot toy, he just loves to tangle up in the ropes and hide under the half coconut)

 

Zarathustra

Arachnosquire
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
106
My little munchkin

Here is a baby pic of mine, and a later photo taken during the summer. She is bigger now, and has a lot of black showing. Her future husband would have been bigger still, and completely black, but he crawled into a washing machine and got himself killed.:(
 

Attachments

Michael Jacobi

ARACHNOCULTURE MAGAZINE
Old Timer
Joined
Mar 17, 2003
Messages
938
As mentioned, this subspecies is very different than most milksnakes (and the largest). It is a montane race that cannot tolerate heat and requires a winter cooling (brumation) period. Your biggest problem will be keeping it cool enough in the Dallas area. However, if the room is comfortable for you, the snake should be fine. Using moderate supplemental heat in a large cage that allows for wide thermoregulation is fine, but I'd control it with a thermostat set at about 78 F. The other end should be cooler.

Cheers, Michael
 

P.jasonius

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 19, 2006
Messages
423
So I should definately keep it in an air-conditioned room, then; noted. The ambient temperature in the room now is ~60-65. Should I just find a better use for the heat mat?
--
Sorry to hear about the washing-machine accident, that just sucks...
 

Takumaku

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
Feb 27, 2006
Messages
273
So I should definately keep it in an air-conditioned room, then; noted. The ambient temperature in the room now is ~60-65. Should I just find a better use for the heat mat?
Room temperature (60-78) is fine. There is absolutely no need for additional heating with L. t. gaigae.

As to the second question, yes.
 

P.jasonius

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 19, 2006
Messages
423
Feeding: Inside the cage or out? Does feeding in the enclosure cause cage aggression?
 

Zarathustra

Arachnosquire
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 20, 2006
Messages
106
Feeding: Inside the cage or out? Does feeding in the enclosure cause cage aggression?
I would feed outside the cage to make sure that the snake does not swallow any of the bedding if you go with aspen or coconut.

My observation with my 2 (only one now) black milks is that they are especially docile, and I think it is fine to feed them in the cage if there was no chance of them swallowing the substrate. Again, this is just my experience with only two black milks. It may not prove true for all.
 

P-Rice

Arachnosquire
Old Timer
Joined
Jan 18, 2004
Messages
52
I have a male and female of this species and they are wonderful. They are right you do not need an additional heat source with this snake unless you live somewhere very cold. My room temp is anywhere from 70 to 78. I also feed mine in the cage as well and have no problems whatsoever with it. I keep them on aspen with a hide and branches and they seem to crawl around more than any of my other snakes. they are always exploring the tank. If you give them several inches of bedding they will actually make tunnels in it.

Peace Out,
Price
 

Takumaku

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
Feb 27, 2006
Messages
273
What are the dangers of ingesting the substrate? Impaction?
Yes impaction is the most common risk. Since you are using aspen, the risk of impaction is very minimal (almost nil).

Another risk of feeding inside the cage is the snake developing cage aggression (i.e. associating opening the cage with feeding time and thus striking "at the hand that feeds it").
 

P.jasonius

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 19, 2006
Messages
423
Yes impaction is the most common risk. Since you are using aspen, the risk of impaction is very minimal (almost nil).
QUOTE]

Actually I'm using coconut fiber, Ecoearth to be exact. The fibers that would be injested (I have fed him on his water dish to minimize this) are very small. I have found little information on what can cause this, other than eating prey tail first and injesting wood chips. What size does something have to be to consider it a risk?
 

Takumaku

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
Feb 27, 2006
Messages
273
Sorry bout that. Next time I'll read more thoroughly.

For a substrate to be consider an impaction risk, it is usually considered indigestible by the reptile. 'Digestible' means that which can be safely broken down and nutrients extracted; 'indigestible' is that which cannot be broken down. Indigestible matter may or may not be able to pass through the intestinal tract to be eliminated with the waste products. If it doesn't pass through, it can form an obstruction in the gut, one which may eventually block the passage of ingesta or, if farther down the tract, can prevent feces from being passed through to elimination.

There is no official rule to state at "X" size, this particular substrate is no longer an impaction risk. I usually follow the following rule: do not feed on any substrate except newspaper. Now there are times when I must feed on the substrate (my stubborn sand boas won't eat unless they are covered), but I usually monitor them very closely to make sure none [and/or very minimal] substrate is ingested.
 

P.jasonius

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Nov 19, 2006
Messages
423
There is no official rule to state at "X" size, this particular substrate is no longer an impaction risk. I usually follow the following rule: do not feed on any substrate except newspaper. Now there are times when I must feed on the substrate (my stubborn sand boas won't eat unless they are covered), but I usually monitor them very closely to make sure none [and/or very minimal] substrate is ingested.
So do you take away their prey food if you see some substrate begin to be ingested? How do you do this? Tongs I presume?

During his first feeding, I witnessed a very small amount of substrate get stuck to the pinky being consumed. I thought this might be a cause for concern, but really didn't know what to do. I have since changed to a much larger water/ feeding bowl to make sure he doesn't drag his food out into the substrate again.
 

Attachments

Takumaku

Arachnoknight
Old Timer
Joined
Feb 27, 2006
Messages
273
If I notice some substrate that is about to be ingested [and I'm concerned about it] -- think caked in substrate, I'll use some tongs and try to remove as much substrate as possible.

Here something you can try. At the next feeding, remove the snake and lay some newpaper down in the cage. Just lay the paper over everything; no need to remove the furniture. Then return snake and feed on the paper. After the snake has eaten, remove paper.
 
Top