Pituophis melanoleucus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Colubridae

Scientific Name: Pituophis melanoleucus (Daudin, 1803)
Common Name(s):
English Pinesnake, Pine Snake
Taxonomic Notes: Pituophis catenifer, P. melanoleucus, P. ruthveni, and P. vertebralis were formerly regarded as conspecific (as. P. melanoleucus), but are separated here (see Rodríguez-Robles and de Jesús-Escobar 2000).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2007
Date Assessed: 2007-03-01
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Hammerson, G.A.
Reviewer(s): Cox, N., Chanson, J.S. & Stuart, S.N. (Global Reptile Assessment Coordinating Team)
Listed as Least Concern in view of the fairly large range and number of subpopulations/locations and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The species' range extends from extreme eastern Louisiana discontinuously east to eastern and southern Florida, and discontinuously north to Kentucky, Virginia, and southern New Jersey in the United States (Ernst and Ernst 2003). Records for Arkansas, Maryland, New York, and Veracruz (Mexico) probably represent introductions (Sweet and Parker 1990) and are not mapped here.
Countries occurrence:
United States
Present - origin uncertain:
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is represented by many occurrences or subpopulations. Sweet and Parker (1990) mapped more than 100 collection localities. The number of occurrences or subpopulations with good viability is unknown but undoubtedly is significantly fewer than the number of extant occurrences. The total adult population size is unknown but may exceed 10,000. This snake is relatively common in some areas but appears to be uncommon over most of its range, including all of Florida (Franz 1992, Tennant 1997). Fossorial habits make it appear to be less numerous than it actually is. Its area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size have probably declined over the past several decades, but the rate of decline is probably less than 10% over 10 years or three generations.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Good quality pinesnake habitat appears to be characterized by xeric, pine-dominated or pine-oak (50 to 80% pine) woodland with an open, low understorey established on sandy soils. Longleaf pine sandhills appear to represent critical habitat over much of the southeastern United States. Pinesnakes also require forest openings, with level, well-drained sandy soils and little shrub cover, as nesting and hibernation sites.

This snake is terrestrial, fossorial, and arboreal. It remains underground in cold weather and during the hot midday period in summer (Fitch 1956, Zappalorti et al. 1983, Burger et al. 1988). It may occupy mammal burrows (Schroder 1950, Fitch 1958) or dig its own burrow, aided by a pointed snout and enlarged rostral scale; it is an accomplished burrower in loose soil (Franz 1992). Eggs are deposited in burrows excavated by the female in loose soil (Moore 1893; Zappalorti et al. 1983; Burger and Zappalorti 1986, 1991), spaces beneath large rocks or logs, or possibly small mammal burrows (Ernst and Barbour 1989, Franz 1992).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In many areas, the habitat of this snake has been destroyed or degraded by human activities.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: At least several occurrences of this species are in protected areas.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.2. Gathering terrestrial plants -> 5.2.3. Persecution/control
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Burger, J. and Zappalorti, R.T. 1986. Nest site selection by pine snakes, Pituophis melanoleucus, in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Copeia : 116-121.

Burger, J. and Zappalorti, R.T. 1991. Nesting behavior of pine snakes (Pituophis m. melanoleucus) in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Journal of Herpetology 25: 152-160.

Burger, J., Zappalorti, R.T., Gochfeld, M., Boarman, W.I., Cafrey, M., Doig, V., Garber, S.D., Lauro, B., Mikovsky, M., Safina, C. and Saliva, J. 1988. Hibernacula and summer dens of Pine snakes (Pituophis melanoleucus) in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Journal of Herpetology 22(4): 425-433.

Ernst, C.H. and Barbour, R.W. 1989. Snakes of Eastern North America. George Mason University Press, Fairfax, Virginia. 282 pp.

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

Fitch, H.S. 1956. Temperature responses in free-living amphibians and reptile in northeastern Kansas. University of Kansas Publications of the Museum of Natural History 8: 417-76.

Fitch, H.S. 1958. Home ranges, territories, and seasonal movement of vertebrates of the Natural History Reservation. University of Kansas Publications of the Museum of Natural History 11: 63-326.

Franz, R. 1992. Florida pine snake Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus Barbour. In: P.E. Moler (ed.) Amphibians and reptiles. Rare and endangered biota of Florida. Volume III, pp. 254-258. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

IUCN. 2007. 2007 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 12th September 2007).

Moore, J.M. 1893. The eggs of Pituophis melanoleucus. American Naturalist 27: 878-885.

Rodríguez-Robles, J.A. and de Jesús-Escobar, J.M. 2000. Molecular systematics of New World gopher, bull, and pinesnakes (Pituophis: Colubridae), a transcontinental species complex. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 14: 35-50.

Schroder, R.C. 1950. Hibernation of blue racers and bull snakes in western Illinois. Natural History Miscellanea 75: 1-2.

Sweet, S.S. and Parker, W.S. 1990. Pituophis melanoleucus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles 474: 1-8.

Tennant, A. 1997. A Field Guide to Snakes of Florida. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, Texas. xiii + 257 pp.

Zappalorti, R.T., Johnson, E.W. and Leszczynski, Z. 1983. The Ecology of the Northern Pine Snake, Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus (Daudin) (Reptilia, Serpentes, Colubridae) in southern New Jersey, with special notes on habitat and nesting behavior. Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 18(3/4): 57-72.

Citation: Hammerson, G.A. 2007. Pituophis melanoleucus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2007: e.T63873A12723588. . Downloaded on 20 September 2018.
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