Asked June 1, 2019, 1:30 PM EDT

Found this little guy in my basement... wondering what he is

Onondaga County New York

1 Response

Thank you for your question. The snake in your photograph is a juvenile eastern milksnakes, scientific name Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum. This is a non-venomous species.

Juveniles look like adults, but their coloration is usually much brighter than the adults. As they age, the bright red color of the juveniles can darken to more of a brick-red to dark brown color.

There are three subspecies of milksnake. They are found from Maine to the northern portions of South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama, then west as far as portions of Utah. The eastern milksnake is found from Maine west to Wisconsin and south to the northern portions of South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.

Typical length of this species is slightly over 2 feet, and maximum length can exceed 4 feet. They are found in dense forests as well as open field habitats. They are commonly found under rocks and debris in and around former agricultural fields and meadows and under logs near the margins of woodland areas.

They have a varied diet that includes small rodents, small birds, amphibians, lizards and snakes, including venomous species. They can also feed on invertebrates such as slugs, beetles and roaches.

When threatened they may vibrate the tip of their tail, release a strong-smelling musk from anal glands and strike and bite. After the initial bite, they can continue to chew.

Here's a link to the State University of New York's website page on the snake species found in New York:

If you are interested in learning more about snakes in your area, here is an excellent field guide:

Gibbons, Whit. (2017). Snakes Of The Eastern United States. Athens: The University of Georgia Press.

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