|Common name: New Jersey Pine Snake|
Species name: Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus
Description: The Northern pine snake is a threatened species in New Jersey. The New Jersey Pinelands may provide residence for some of the largest populations of pine snakes in the Northeast. Can grow to 5 feet to 7 feet long and has a black and dull white pattern. There are dark blotches along the top and sides of the body which are less distinct in the front part of the body and more distinct in the hind part. The belly is white with rows of black dots along either side. This species of snake has a small pointed head with a tipped snout and thick neck, which are helpful when it moves soil around or burrows. It also has a special scale at the front of its snout that shields its nose and protects it as it tunnels underground. In fact, much of its time is spent hidden underground.
Distribution: population occurs in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey, and small, scattered populations are known throughout the Blue Ridge escarpment in extreme west central Virginia. They live well in the Pine Barrens because when fires occur, it clears the forest floor for them.
Habitat: Pine snakes in New Jersey require dry pine-oak forest types growing on very infertile sandy soils such as Lakehurst or Lakewood sands (Burger and Zappalorti 1988, 1989). Sandy infertile soil not only provides for persistent openings in disturbed sites, but may also be important because pine snakes are the only snakes known to dig hibernacula and summer dens.
Foods: mice, moles, gophers, chipmunks, squirrels, birds, small rabbits and eggs in some cases.
(Image by LaVonne)
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