“Red on yellow will kill a fellow, but red on black is a friend of Jack.”
You may have heard this rhyme as a tool to identify the venomous coral snake from its nonvenomous lookalikes – the milk snake or scarlet kingsnake. This week, we’re highlighting the Pueblan milk snake, a subspecies of the kingsnake. Its stripes are a pattern of black, yellow, black and then, red. Their similar appearance to the coral snake is actually meant to confuse us! It is their natural defense to mimic coral snakes to trick predators. Their habitats vary from open woodlands to small streams or marshes and they can live up to 20 years!
Pueblan milk snakes are constrictors, eating primarily eat rodents, birds, lizards and other snakes. While they are not listed as endangered, humans are one of their largest threats! They are often mistaken for coral snakes and killed. Learning the catchy rhyme can help both humans and snakes stay safe!