Bio Facts: Snake, Florida Pine
Florida Pine Snake
Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus
Southern South Carolina to Alabama and Florida
Dry, sandy areas in pinewoods and pine scrub
Coloration is whitish-gray with blotches; narrow head and pointed snout; length 48-66 inches in length.
18-20 years in captivity
At least 18 months
In the wild, they eat rats, mice, and gophers. In the Zoo, they are fed mice and rats.
FL - Species of Special Concern
Females usually lay their eggs in burrows. The incubation period is 64-79 days, and between 3 to 24 young hatch.
The Florida pine snake spends most of its time searching for its meal of choice under the sand—the pocket gopher. It rests in mammal or tortoise burrows, and is diurnal.
If in dry leaves, its vibrating tail mimics a rattlesnake. When danger is near, the snake coils up and strikes several times while vibrating its tail and hissing loudly.
The narrow head and pointed snout assist in burrowing. The large rostral (nose) scale is used for digging.
A loose skin flap in front of the windpipe allows its hissing to be very loud.
The coloration allows for camouflage, and helps protect it from predators. The keen sense of smell, touch and sight helps in locating prey and escaping predators.
The saying, “a snake in the grass” comes from the poet Virgil, who warned people to be wary of anyone who is like a snake lurking in the grass.
In the American South, superstition suggests that dreaming of snakes brings bad luck. Safely walking by snakes in your dream means that you will defeat your enemies.
Pine snake populations are dwindling. Although captive breeding has been successful, Florida pine snakes are seldom bred in their home state because even the captive bred offspring cannot be sold or traded.
Jacksonville Zoo History:
This species appears in the Zoo’s animal collection as early as May 1966. It has successfully bred here.