Assemblywoman ELIZABETH MAHER MUOIO
District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)
Designates Eastern Milk Snake as NJ State Reptile.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act designating the Eastern Milk Snake as the New Jersey State Reptile, and supplementing chapter 9A of Title 52 of the Revised Statutes.
Whereas, The Eastern Milk Snake is a mid-sized nonvenomous snake that can grow up to 35 inches in length, is grey to tan with black-bordered reddish-brown blotches, and has a light Y- or V-shaped patch on the nape of its neck; and
Whereas, The Eastern Milk Snake may be found in every county in the State of New Jersey, and in a broad range of habitats such as fields, wooded areas, riverbanks, and rocky hillsides; and
Whereas, The Eastern Milk Snake is typically secretive and is frequently found beneath rocks, logs or in burrows, and spends the majority of its time underground; and
Whereas, The Eastern Milk Snake derives its name from a folktale that it milks cows, as it is frequently found in barns however, the snake actually consumes rodents, birds, lizards, eggs, and even other snakes; and
Whereas, Although the Eastern Milk Snake is secretive and is rarely encountered out in the open, it is quite common, and is active from April through September; and
Whereas, The Eastern Milk Snake has a beneficial relationship to humans because it feeds on disease-carrying rodents that concentrate near human development; and
Whereas, The Eastern Milk Snake is frequently mistaken for the venomous Northern Copperhead, and is often needlessly killed out of fear; and
Whereas, A majority of states across the country have designated an official state reptile to accompany their state symbols, but New Jersey has not done so; and
Whereas, Designating the Eastern Milk Snake as the State Reptile will increase the public profile of the Eastern Milk Snake, and encourage awareness of this beneficial, yet frequently misunderstood creature; and
Whereas, Due to the ubiquity of the Eastern Milk Snake and its benefits to humans, it is appropriate and fitting that the Eastern Milk Snake be granted special recognition by adding it to New Jersey’s other State Symbols; now, therefore,
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. The Eastern Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum triangulum) is designated as the New Jersey State Reptile.
2. This act shall take effect
This bill designates the Eastern Milk Snake as the official State Reptile of New Jersey. The bill is in response to the advocacy of the Chemistry in Community classes of the Hopewell Valley Central High School in Pennington, New Jersey. These students championing this reptile have brought awareness to the conservation concerns faced by the diversity of species throughout this State.
The Eastern Milk Snake is a mid-sized grey to tan snake with black-bordered reddish-brown blotches and may be found in every county in New Jersey. The Eastern Milk Snake is named for a folk legend that the snake milks cows (as it is frequently found in barns), but the snake actually preys on pest animals such as disease-carrying rodents. Outside of barns, the Eastern Milk Snake occupies a wide array of environs including fields, wooded areas, riverbanks, and rocky hillsides, and is often found hiding underneath rocks and logs.
Despite the fact that the Eastern Milk Snake helps to reduce the population of pest animals, it is often mistaken for the venomous Northern Copperhead and is needlessly killed. A majority of other states have designated a state reptile, and making the Eastern Milk Snake the New Jersey State Reptile will increase public awareness and promote broader education about this ubiquitous and beneficial creature.