pine snake

Pituophis melanoleucus

Summary 2

Pituophis melanoleucus is a harmless colubrid species endemic to the southeastern United States. Three subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here.

Taxon biology 3

Pituophis melanoleucus is a large, robust, non-venomous colubrid snake with a relatively small head and slightly pointed snout. Adult coloration is highly variable—from white, cream, or light gray with dark dorsal blotches and a white or cream venter to melanistic individuals which are a uniform dark brown or black. The dorsal scales are strongly keeled and the anal plate is undivided, distinguishing young P. melanoleucus from young black rat snakes. This species is native to North America and is distributed throughout the eastern United States.

Pine snakes prefer xeric, pine-dominated or pine-oak woodland habitats with sandy soil. They are diurnal and feed on a variety of small and large mammals as well as ground-nesting birds and their eggs. Pine snakes emerge from hibernation in April or May and mate in spring. Eggs are laid over the summer and are deposited into nests dug by the females.

When disturbed, Pituophis melanoleucus will coil its body, hiss loudly, vibrate its tail, and strike repeatedly. Like many snakes, it may release a foul-smelling musk when threatened.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Kerry Matz, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  2. (c) Wikipedia, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA),
  3. (c) Shuting Jin, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),

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