Florida Pine snake Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus
Did you Know?
>> They are one of the largest snakes in Georgia growing to up to 6 feet in length
>> Florida pine snakes (P. m. mugitus) are one of two sub-species of pine snake in Georgia – the other being the Northern pine snake (P. m. melenoleucus)
>> They lay the largest eggs of ANY Georgia colubrid snake
>> Pine snakes have a unique defensive display where they will raise the front of their body in a coiled position, inhale deeply, then exhale to make a loud blowing/hissing sound. They are able to do this with a modified glottis in their throat that acts much like a clarinet reed would.
>> Studies have shown the Florida pine snake occupies large home ranges: one study using radio telemetry (Miller, G.J. et all, 2012) published that the snakes they tracked used a mean average of 59.2 ha (146 acres), males having a larger home range in the spring and summer.
>> Pine snakes are fossorial and spend the majority of their time underground. They have a specialized rostral scale on their snout that allows them to excavate their own burrows. They are one of only two snakes that burrow in Georgia.
General Information on Florida Pine Snakes
The Florida pine snake is a highly variable snake. The ground color ranges from yellowish tan to white to gray or rusty brown. The top is blotched in a unique pattern in thirds; the front third of the body is blotched with no clear pattern. The middle third becomes more distinct with a checkered pattern. The back third has dark blotches or saddles that go all the way to the tip of the tail. The blotches themselves are highly variable, being almost invisible in some animals to black, dark tan, or almost brick red in others. Head markings vary but often include a band across the eyes and spots on the top of the head.
The Florida pine snake occurs south of the Fall Line in the Coastal Plain of Georgia.
Florida pine snakes are found in sandy, open areas, including pine-turkey oak woodland, abandoned fields, and longleaf pine forests. This environment is characterized by soft, sandy soil frequented by the burrowing rodents upon which the Florida pine snake most often preys. They will sometimes utilize gopher tortoise burrows.
Breeding occurs in spring, then during the summer usually 4-12 whitish eggs are laid in burrows. These are often, though not always, self-excavated. The 18-20 inch (46-51 cm) young hatch in September-October. Hatchlings emerge already at least 12 inches in length.
The Florida pine snake preys on small mammals and rodents as well as the eggs of ground nesting birds.