Florida pine snake

FloridaPineSnake.jpg

Florida pine snake: Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus

Taxonomic Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class:  Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Colubridae
Genus/Species: Pituophismelanoleucus
Subspecies: Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus
Common Name: Florida pine snake

Listing Status

Federal Status: Not Listed
FL Status: State Species of Special Concern
FNAI Ranks: G4T3?/S3 (Globally: Apparently Secure, Sub sp. Rare [Tentative Ranking]/State: Rare)
IUCN Status: Not ranked

Physical Description

The Florida pine snake is one of the largest eastern snakes in North America (Bartlett and Bartlett 2003). This species can reach a length of up to 84 inches (213 centimeters). It has a brown back with dark blotches, white belly, ridged scales, small head, and pointed snout (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).

Life History

The diet of the Florida pine snake primarily consists of moles, rabbits, mice, rats, squirrels, lizards, and other snakes and their eggs (Ernst and Ernst 2003).

Nesting occurs from June to August, with the eggs hatching in September and October (Franz 1992). Nests are constructed in side burrows located off of the species main burrow. The female will construct the burrow alone, usually in an area that receives a lot of sunlight. The clutch size for the Florida pine snake is 4-12 eggs (Bartlett and Bartlett 2003). The incubation time for eggs ranges from 67-72 days (Franz 1992).

Habitat and Distribution

Florida Pine Snake Distribution MapThe Florida pine snake inhabits areas that feature well-drained sandy soils with a moderate to open canopy (Franz 1992, Ernst and Ernst 2003).  This species can be found from southwest South Carolina, west to Mobile Bay in Alabama, south to Florida (excluding the Everglades) (Conant and Collins 1991, Ernst and Ernst 2003, Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).

Threats:

Habitat loss has been an issue for the Florida pine snake.  By 1987, 88% of scrub habitat in Florida had been lost to development (Kautz et al. 1993).  Other habitat for this species includes the longleaf pine community, of which 97% has been converted to agriculture, pine plantations, and urban areas (Noss et al. 1995).  Habitat loss and fragmentation is a result of commercial and residential development, silviculture (controlling the growth and quality of forests through timber management), mining, and road construction.  The alteration of its fire-dependent habitat can cause less favorable living conditions for the Florida pine snake due to the encroachment of hardwoods.  The removal of stumps can threaten the pine snake because it decreases the amount of underground habitat structures (Means 2005).  Pine snakes might be experiencing increased rates of predation of adults, hatchlings, or eggs from nine-banded armadillos, feral hogs, and red imported fire ants (R. Zappalorti, Herpetological Associates, pers. commun. 2011).  Other threats include mortality caused by roads, humans, and domesticated pets (Jordan 1998).

Conservation and Management

The Florida pine snake is protected as a State Species of Special Concern by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule External Website.

Biological Status Review (BSR) Adobe PDF
Supplemental Information for the BSR Adobe PDF

Other Informative Links

Florida Museum of Natural History External Website
Florida Natural Areas Inventory External Website
University of Florida IFAS Extension External Website

 

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Printable version of this page Adobe PDF

References

Bartlett, R., and P. Bartlett, P.  2003.  Florida Snakes A Guide to Their Identification and Habits. Gainesville, Florida : University Press of Florida.  182 pp.

Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1991. A field guide to amphibians and reptiles of eastern and central North America. Third edition. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.   450pp.

Ernst, C. H., and E. M. Ernst.  2003.  Snakes of the United States and Canada.  Smithsonian Books, Washington, D.C., USA.  668pp.

Florida Natural Areas Inventory.  2001.  Field guide to the rare animals of Florida. http://www.fnai.org/FieldGuide/pdf/Pituophis_melanoleucus_mugitus.PDF External Website

Franz, R. 1992.  Florida pine snake, Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus Barbour.  Pages 254–258 in  P. E. Moler, editor.  Rare and endangered biota of Florida.  Volume III.  Amphibians and reptiles.  University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA.

Jordan, R. A.  1998.  Species profile: pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus ssp.) on military installations in the southeastern United States.  Technical Report SERDP-98-5, U.S.   Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA.    24pp.

Kautz, R. S., D. T. Gilbert, and G. M. Mauldin.  1993.  Vegetative cover in Florida based on 1985–1989 Landsat Thematic Mapper Imagery.  Florida Scientist 56:135–154.

Means, D. B.  2005.  The value of dead tree bases and stumpholes as habitat for wildlife.  Pages   74–78 in W. E. Meshaka, Jr., and K. J. Babbitt, editors.  Amphibians and reptiles: status     and conservation in Florida.  Krieger, Malabar, Florida, USA.

Noss, R. F, E. T. LaRoe III, and J. M. Scott.  1995.  Endangered ecosystems of the United States: a preliminary assessment of loss and degradation.  U.S. Department of the Interior   National Biological Services Biological Report 28.  81pp.


Image Credit Photo by Kevin Enge, FWC



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