Florida Pine Snake

 

Identification

The Florida Pine Snake (Pituophis melanoleucus) is a large, non-venomous colubrid snake found in the found in the southeastern United States . It can be easily identified by its triangular rostral scale (on its face) that it uses for burrowing. Florida pine snakes can be rather polymorphic within their range but typically are tan or brown with dark brown saddles on their backs and red/brown spots near the tail. They can reach 7 feet long but reach adult size at 4-6 feet. This snake species is predominantly diurnal and can be best seen in spring and summer. While harmless, this large snake has a convincing defense display involving a rattling tail, coiled body and a loud hiss coming from the snake’s epiglottis.

  Rostral scale of Pine snake

Rostral scale of Pine snake

  Common defense display of Florida Pine Snake

Common defense display of Florida Pine Snake

Population Status and Distribution

A specialist of pine savannahs and loose sandy soils, Florida Pine snakes find themselves in ever decreasing available habitat due to development and lack of management. The decline in available habitat coupled with low reproductive output (typically 4 -8 eggs per clutch) has awarded this animal protection in most of its range at the state level but not federally.

Florida Pine Snakes are currently found from southern South Carolina through Georgia into Florida and a southern portion of Alabama.

  Juvenile Florida Pine snake

Juvenile Florida Pine snake

  Adult Florida Pine snake

Adult Florida Pine snake

Behavior and Diet

This snake is exceptionally secretive as it is predominately fossorial living out its days underground in gopher tortoise burrows and pocket gopher burrows. While this species eats a wide range of animals including lizards, birds, small mammals, and eggs, a primary prey item within much of its range is the pocket gopher.

 Adult Florida Pine snake

Adult Florida Pine snake

Submitted by Cody Godwin
 

cody.godwin@selu.edu