My baby milk snake

Asked June 20, 2017, 10:55 PM EDT

Okay so I was on my laptop holding my snake and it's so small it's entire body could fit in my hand if it curls up, so I was on my laptop and felt a little tickle, I looked down and it was wagging it's tail in an s shape but it was slow and occasional and it she just stayed in my hand doing that with her tail but it was soft and gentle

New Jersey reptile behavior

1 Response

Thank you for your question. I could not find a specific reference for milksnakes exhibiting this behavior, but I suspect your snake is demonstrating caudal luring. This behavior is often seen in juveniles, but the adults of some species employ it also. The snake moves the tip of its tail in such a way as to mimic the movements of a worm or other prey to, hopefully, attract a hungry frog, toad, lizard, bird or other prey item to within striking distance.

Juvenile copperheads (Agkistrodon contortrix) and cottonmouths (Agkistrodon piscivorus) have bright greenish-yellow tips on their tails that make them highly visible to potential prey. As they get older, the yellow color is replaced with normal coloration that matches the rest of the body.

A snake that has carried this adaptation to the extreme is the spider-tailed horned viper (Pseudocerastes urarachnoides). This is a venomous species native to Iran. Its tail is a great mimic of a spider. The snake, which is highly camouflaged, conceals itself on rocks, and then moves its tail to imitate a spider to attract birds within striking range. Here's a link to Reptiles Magazine to learn more about this species:
http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/spider-tailed-horned-viper-uses-spider-like-tail-to-capture-birds-tr...

Hope this answers your question, and thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.

Jim