Two Critically Endangered Louisiana Pine Snakes Hatched At Florida Zoo

August 31, 2015

Two Louisiana pine snakes (Pituophis ruthveni) have successfully hatched from the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Florida, according to the zoo’s Facebook page. 

louisiana pine snakes

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Senior Herpetology Keeper Mark Beshel

One of the two Louisiana pine snakes pipping. Pine snake hatchlings, at 18 to 22 inches, are the largest hatchlings of any North American colubrid snake.

The zoo started a captive breeding and release program for the pine snake three years ago and has had some success. Four eggs from the program in 2014 proved infertile, but two of four eggs this year hatched out successfully. 


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The two hatchlings and 21 others from other breeding programs will eventually be released in their native habitat in western Louisiana. 

About 18 zoos in the United States have captive breeding programs for the Louisiana pine snake. The snake has lost considerable habitat and is only known to exist in four parishes in Louisiana and five counties in Texas, down from nine Louisiana parishes and 14 counties in Texas. The greatest negative impact on the snake’s populations include the loss of longleaf and shortleaf pine ecosystems in which it lives, forest fire suppression and on and off road vehicles. Researchers say that most Louisiana pine snake habitat occurs within about 500 yards of existing roads. 

The Louisiana pine snake is a constrictor of the Colubridae family. It grows to about 4 to 5 feet in length and feeds on gophers and other small burrowing rodents. Native to Louisiana and Texas, Pituophis ruthveni has a low reproductive rate, producing anywhere from three to five eggs per clutch. Pine snake hatchlings, at 18 to 22 inches, are the largest hatchlings of any North American colubrid snake.

John B. Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a kingsnake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata 


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