The Pine snake is a large powerfully built nonvenomous snake native to the southeastern United States. The head of this snake is small and somewhat pointed and is well adapted for burrowing. The color pattern consists of a light ground color overlaid with black, brown, or reddish-brown blotches.
Pine snakes are found in the United States in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Delaware, and Virginia. These snakes live in pine flatwoods, sandy pine-oak woodlands, prairies, cultivated fields, open brushland, and chaparral. Within these habitats, pine snakes require well-drained, sandy soils with little vegetation for use as nesting and hibernation sites.
Pine snakes are secretive creatures and spend most of their time underground. They shelter in burrows that they excavate themselves or take abandoned by other animals. These snakes are active during the day and spend their time basking or searching for prey. They usually hunt underground and also often enter rodent burrows in search of a meal. Pine snakes are generally solitary although females may nest communally. During cold months and sometimes in hot summer days they hibernate in underground burrows. When disturbed, Pine snakes often hiss loudly, sometimes flatten their head, vibrate their tail, and eventually strike at an intruder. To make the rattling sound, snakes force air out of their lungs and vibrate the epiglottis.
Pine snakes are carnivores and prey on rats, mice, moles, and other small mammals, birds, and eggs. The diet of young snakes consists of lizards, insects and small mammals.
The breeding season of Pine snakes takes place in spring, usually from April to May. Females lay 3 to 24 quite large eggs in June-August. The eggs are laid in sandy burrows or under large rocks or logs and hatch after 64-79 days of incubation. Hatchlings measure 33-45 cm (13-18 in) and have a dull coloration until they begin to shed. They don't receive parental care and become reproductively mature at 3 years of age.
Pine snakes are threatened by continued habitat degradation and destruction. Road kills and collection for pet trade may pose another serious threat in the future.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Pine snake total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.
Pine snakes are important for their ecosystem as due to their diet habits, these snakes control populations of agricultural pests such as mice, rats, and gophers.