Identification: This relatively common and widespread species is easily mistaken for the many other blotched snakes that occur in Indiana. Most Indiana milksnakes are gray to light brown with darker brown or red blotches/bands. Milksnakes in southwestern Indiana are more typically white-gray with brilliant red blotches and extensive red coloration on the head. Most juvenile milksnakes have brighter red colors that fade to brown as they age. Milksnakes are medium-sized snakes with most individuals growing to two to three feet (60 - 90 cm) long, and some reaching lengths of nearly four feet (1.2 m) long.
Similar Species: In western Indiana, prairie kingsnakes can be difficult to differentiate from this species, but they tend to be more robust with less vibrant/distinct coloration. In northwestern Indiana, western foxsnakes are similar, but have slightly keeled scales and a more distinct head/neck. Northern watersnakes are superficially similar, but have strongly keeled scales and lack patterning on their head.
Distribution: Milksnakes are found throughout Indiana but are only locally abundant. They are most common where prey populations (primarily rodents and lizards) are abundant and are commonly found under boards, sheet metal, and other debris around farms, junkyards, and in old fields. They may be found in dense forests and in open grasslands, but prefer edge habitat.