We examined the diet of the Milksnake (Lampropeltis triangulum) in the western United States and evaluated predictions about ontogenetic shifts, sexual divergence, and geographic variation in diet. Identifiable prey items were found in 139 specimens, and 41 additional prey items were recorded from the literature, for 180 prey items in total from 175 individual snakes. Lampropeltis triangulum is a generalist predator and feeds primarily on lizards and mammals. Skinks made up a large portion of the total diet. Other lizard taxa were also important prey, whereas reptile eggs, snakes, and birds were consumed infrequently. Ontogenetic shifts in diet were documented. The upper size limit of prey increased with increasing snake size, and adult snakes continued to feed on small prey. Prey type also was related to snake size. Juveniles fed more frequently on lizards, but adults fed mainly on mammals. Although males were longer than females, there was no sexual size dimorphism in mass, and there were no differences in diet between sexes. Diet varied geographically, and the proportion of endothermic prey was greater at higher latitudes after accounting for snake size.
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Vol. 46 • No. 4