The Milksnake. - [Fearsome Critter / Urban Legend.]
• About this critter: A fat spotted snake said to have either "lips", "gummy fangs" or a "mouth like a funnel" nocturnal & said to target sleeping cows, slithering underneath them while they're resting & guzzling on their udders until the cow is either completely dry or the snake is too full to move. Dairy Farmers were said to sometimes milk the bloated snakes littering their fields instead... Occasionally these milksnakes have been said to target sleeping women (if desperate for a drink) fortunately, cows do seem to be their main targets..
• History & Early Appearances: A number of snake-related myths, urban legends & superstitions seem to hail from the Ozarks and Tennessee area around the late 1800s-Early 1900's –The milksnake myth likely began as an urban legend, were-in dairy farmers sought some excuse for why their cows where producing less milk than usual. The snakes, drawn to the mice and rats in the barn, were convenient culprits. – it seems that Lampropeltis triangulum [a real species of red kingsnake found in both Canada and the eastern united states.] - gets its nick-name from association with this myth, because of its frequent appearance in rat-infested barns, coupled with the crushed eggs of such snakes erupting with white milk-like fluid gave way to the belief that these snakes would suck on dairy cows at night.
This particular species of snake does not even bite unless absolutely threatened, even if it did, its teeth are too small to do anything much more than a thin scratch to those bigger than it, it couldn't harm a cow without getting kicked around likely wouldn't even try. - if anything its there for the mice and rats in the barn. - This species of snake is also famously often mistaken for other more venomous snakes. The 'Milksnake' myth, much like the 'hoopsnake', is also commonly attributed to rattlesnakes and gopher snakes as well...
[a milksnake Lampropeltis triangulum]
Though there are without a doubt earlier accounts, the earliest book I can find on the subject of 'MilkSnakes' where included as one of several North American snake myths that where 'debunked' in "the truth about snake stories" - [published 1929] - in it, this "Milksnake" is mentioned & debunked alongside other fearsome favourites such as the Hoopsnake, Blowsnake and the JointSnake.
The "Milking snake" also makes an folk-story appearance in "God bless the devil: liars bench tales."- illustrated in the "Snake country" story [first published 1940s]
[farmers milking the bloated snakes.]
The "milking snake" also gets a brief mention in Vance Radolphs "We always lie to strangers"  - There is also a "Milking Trout" mentioned in "Mythical Creatures of the North Country"  by Walker D. Wyman. - The two critters should not be conflated, as not only are they entirely different animals, but are perhaps regional variants of the same myth, The "MilkingTrout" notably only sips on cows that have decided to stand over streams.
Folklorist Gary Carden also featured a section all about the "Milksnake" in his Appalachian bestiary. -  - in it, he mentions (alongside other local tall tales and critters) that "In the Ozarks, there are stories about nocturnal milk snakes that climb through bedroom windows and get milk from the breasts of sleeping women. In this tradition, milk snakes are like panthers since they can smell “human milk,” and when they do, they will resort to desperate measures to get it. Fortunately, however, the victims are usually cows."
- this might be related to the a Mexican folkloric serpent called the Alicante.
It also seems that Snakes from Indian mythology, also enjoy milk! This is because snakes hold a vital place in Hindu mythology and are closely related to Lord Shiva; a special day (Nag Pachami, July 25th) is dedicated to worshiping snakes. – They are offered plates of milk & rice. - The followers of the Hindu religion believe that the blessings of the snake will protect them and their families from negative energy. – [Whether or not these snake-myths are at all related is debatable, many of the books i've mentioned about milksnakes like to bring up the indian connection, but I personally feel it's more or less unrelated and just a coincidence. 💁]'
it should also be noted that science has found that snakes being reptiles, cannot digest milk at all so if you own a snake, please don't feed them milk!
You're probably expecting me to connect this fat snake to the Japanese Tsuchinoko as well, however, to do so would feel ingenuine as tsuchinoko is obviously real and has a lot more in common with the hoopsnake regardless!!
• See also: Hoopsnake, Jointsnake, Snowsnake, Tsuchinoko.
Sticker Art by @Samkalensky, Part of my fearsome critters collection of stickers!