Pituophis melanoleucus

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Pituophis melanoleucus
Suwanee County FL Pine Snake.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Pituophis
Species: P. melanoleucus
Binomial name
Pituophis melanoleucus
(Daudin, 1803)
  • Coluber melanoleucus Daudin, 1803
  • Churchilla bellona
    Baird & Girard, 1852
  • Pituophis bellona
    — Baird & Girard, 1852[1]
Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus, Florida pine snake
Florida pine snake close up of head
Florida pine snake, P. m. mugitus
Florida pine snake, P. m. mugitus, light pattern
Mexican lined pine snake at the San Antonio Zoo in San Antonio, Texas
Common names: pine snake, pinesnake,[2] common pine snake,[3] and others.

Pituophis melanoleucus is a harmless (nonvenomous) colubrid species endemic to the southeastern United States. Three subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here.[2]


Adults are large, growing to 48–100 inches (4.0–8.3 ft) (122–254 cm) in length, and are powerfully built. The head is small and somewhat pointed with an enlarged rostral scale that extends upward between the internasal scales. There are usually 4 prefrontal scales. At midbody there are 27-37 rows of keeled dorsal scales.[4] The anal plate is single.[5] The color pattern consists of a light ground color overlaid with black, brown or reddish-brown blotches.[4]

Common names[edit]

Pine snake, pinesnake,[2] common pine snake, bull snake, black and white snake, carpet snake, chicken snake, common bull snake, eastern bull snake, eastern pine snake, horn(ed) snake, New Jersey pine snake, North American pine snake, northern pine snake, pilot snake, white gopher snake.[3]

Geographic range[edit]

The species P. melanoleucus is found in the United States in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Delaware and Virginia.[3][5]

The range for the subspecies P. m. melanoleucus extends from southern North Carolina west through South Carolina to northern Georgia, eastern Tennessee, southeastern Kentucky and south into Alabama. Disjunct populations exist in southern New Jersey, west-central Virginia, adjacent West Virginia, central Kentucky and southwestern Tennessee. This subspecies intergrades with P. m. mugitus in South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.[1]

Conservation status[edit]

This species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (v3.1, 2001).[6] Species are listed as such due to their wide distribution, presumed large population, or because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category. The population trend is down. Year assessed: 2007.[7]


Prefers pine flatwoods, sandy pine-oak woodlands, prairies, cultivated fields, open brushland, rocky desert, and chaparral. Occurs from sea level to an elevation of 9,000 feet (2,750 m).[4]


When disturbed, it will often hiss loudly, sometimes flattening its head, vibrate its tail and eventually strike at an intruder.[4] To make the rattling sound the snake forces air out of its lungs, vibrating the epiglottis.[8]


Prey includes rats, mice, moles, other small mammals and bird's eggs.[3] According to Mehrtens (1987), it often enters rodent burrows in search of a meal. In these cases, multiple kills are frequent with the snake pressing the mice against the walls of the burrow.[9]


After mating has taken place in spring, clutches of 3-24 eggs are laid in June–August. The eggs are deposited in sandy burrows or under large rocks or logs and hatch after 64–79 days of incubation.[4] The eggs are adherent and quite large, up to 66 mm (2⅝ in) long by 45 mm (1¾ in) wide. The hatchlings measure 33–45 cm (13-17¾ in) in total length.[3]


Subspecies[2] Authority[2] Common name[2] Geographic range[1]
P. m. lodingi Blanchard, 1924 Black pine snake From southwestern Alabama to eastern Louisiana.
P. m. melanoleucus (Daudin, 1803) Northern pine snake Southern New Jersey, southern North Carolina west through South Carolina to northern Georgia, eastern Tennessee, southeastern Kentucky and south into Alabama.
P. m. mugitus Barbour, 1921 Florida pine snake Southern South Carolina to Georgia and southern Florida.


The subspecific name, lodingi, is in honor Danish-born amateur herpetologist Peder Henry Löding (1869-1942) who lived in Alabama.[10]


  1. ^ a b c Pituophis melanoleucus at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 29 June 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Pituophis melanoleucus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 29 June 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Wright AH, Wright AA. 1957. Handbook of Snakes of the United States and Canada. 2 volumes. Ithaca and London: Comstock Publishing Associates. (7th printing, 1985). 1,105 pp. ISBN 0-8014-0463-0. (Pituophis melanoleucus, pp. 609-621, Figures 176.-178. + Map 46. on p. 589.)
  4. ^ a b c d e Behler JL, King FW. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 743 pp. LCCCN 79-2217. ISBN 0-394-50824-6. (Pituophis melanoleucus, pp. 644-645 + Plates 488, 537, 573, 575, 591).
  5. ^ a b Conant R. 1975. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Second Edition. (First published in 1958.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 429 pp. 48 plates. ISBN 0-395-19979-4 (hardcover), ISBN 0-395-19977-8 (paperback). (Pituophis melanoleucus, pp. 199-200 + Plate 27 + Map 147.)
  6. ^ Pituophis melanoleucus at the IUCN Red List. Accessed 6 September 2008.
  7. ^ 2001 Categories & Criteria (version 3.1) at the IUCN Red List. Accessed 6 September 2008.
  8. ^ http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/pinesnake/
  9. ^ Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
  10. ^ Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M. 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Pituophis melanoleucus lodingi, p. 160).

Further reading[edit]

  • Barbour T. 1921. The Florida Pine Snake. Proc. New England Zoöl. Club 7: 117118. (Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus, new subspecies).
  • Blanchard FN. 1924. A Name for the Black Pituophis of Alabama. Pap. Michigan Acad. Sci., Arts, Letters 4: 531-532. (Pituophis lodingi, new species).
  • Daudin, F.M. 1803. Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particulière des Reptiles..., Tome Sixième [Volume 6]. Paris: F. Dufart. 447 pp. + Plates I-X. (Coluber melanoleucus, new species, p. 409.) (in French).

External links[edit]