Pine snake

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The pine snake, northern pine snake or bull snake (Pituophis melanoleucus) is a fairly common, non-venomous native snake.

The species ranges across much of Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, with the greatest population densities on the fringes of the Southern Appalachian range above the Black Belt. It favors pine flatwoods, pine-oak woodlands and open brushland and is also found on farmland and in dry, rocky areas. Though populations are in apparent decline, the species is listed as being of "least concern" by the World Conservation Union.

Pine snakes are among the larger native snakes, reaching adult lengths of 48 to 83 inches. They are variably patterned with black, brown or red-brown blotches on an off-white, pale yellow, or light gray ground. The pattern is typically darker and less-defined at the neck, becoming more widely-spaced and distinct toward the tail. The belly is white with rows of dark spots on each side. While pine snakes are often confused with gray ratsnakes, they tend to be lighter. The nose is distinct for having an enlarged rostral scale (upper "lip") curling back between the internasal scales. Unlike a ratsnake, the pine snake's anal plate is undivided.

Pine snakes favor more open areas than similar species and thrive in partially-forested, sandy flatlands subjected to wildfires. They tend to avoid dense foliage and are thus associated with the Virginia pine and longleaf pines that also thrive in those conditions.

Pine snakes eat small mammals, primarily rodents, as well as bird's eggs. An intruding snake can subdue multiple animals in a burrow by pressing them against the walls.

They mate in the Spring, laying clutches of 3-24 large eggs in sandy burrows or beneath logs or rocks in Summer. They hatch in late Summer or Fall, with the juveniles averaging 13 to 18 inches long when they emerge.

If disturbed, a pine snake can make a loud hissing noise and will also mimic a rattlesnake by flattening its head, vibrating its tail, and occasionally striking. Its hiss can even mimic a rattlesnake's rattle through vibration of the epiglottis. Bites from pine snakes are uncommon.

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