Florida Pine Snake

Florida Pine Snake

Reptiles

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: Florida pine snake, southern pine snake
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Reptilia
ORDER: Squamata
FAMILY: Colubridae
GENUS SPECIES: Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: Large powerful snake with disproportionately small head; ranges from beige to tan in color; back has faded blotches; ventrals are usually immaculate, colored typically in a smoky gray or off white
SIZE: Up to 210 cm (7 ft); young hatched at 7.2 cm (18 in)
WEIGHT: No data
DIET: Variety of warm-blooded vertebrates, reptile, amphibians, birds, and eggs
INCUBATION: 75-90 days
CLUTCH SIZE Up to several dozen eggs
SEXUAL MATURITY: 2-3 years
LIFE SPAN: Can exceed 15 years, even longer in captivity; record is 25 years
RANGE: Most of Florida (excluding the Keys) , southern and middle Georgia, southeastern Alabama, and the southwestern quarter of South Carolina
HABITAT: Sandy, open areas, including oak woodland, abandoned fields and longleaf pine forests
POPULATION: GLOBAL No data
STATUS: IUCN No data
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed

FUN FACTS

1. When disturbed, the Florida pine snake will inflate and rear the front of its body off the ground while hissing very loudly.
2. Secretive reptiles, pine snakes will also dig their own burrows as well as utilize those made by other animals. They will also use other burrows in search of prey, such as pocket gophers.
3. They have the ability to catch multiple rodents at a time by immobilizing prey against a burrow wall, pressing against the rodent with half coils of their body.
4. The pine snake is an unusual animal in the fact that it will dig its own burrow for egg laying.

ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION

Intensive cultivation of much of its habitat for pine tree farms is probably the major factor in its population decline. In Florida, the citrus industry, real estate development, and the corresponding road construction have also have had an enormous impact on this snake. Currently, herpetologists are investigating the impact the Latin American fire ant introduction on native herp species, including the Florida Pine. Also, during rattlesnake round-ups gopher tortoise burrows are injected with gas to unearth the inhabitants and this practice has undoubtedly had a negative impact, since the Florida pine is often a cohabitant with the tortoise. Consequently, it is protected by Florida state laws.

These snakes help keep the rodent population in check and are sometimes food for other predators as well.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Coborn, John. The Atlas of Snakes of the World. New Jersey: T.F.H. Publications, Inc., 1991.

Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1991.

Mattison, Chris. Snakes of the World. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1986.

Mehrtens, John M. Living Snakes of the World. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 1987.