Pine snake (Pituophis ruthveni and Pituophis mellanoleucus lodingi) hibernacula
Snakes are often highly selective in the choice of sites for hibernation, and suitable sites can potentially be a limiting resource. Hibernating Louisiana Pine Snakes (Pituopllis ruthveni; N = 7) in eastern Texas and Black Pine Snakes (Pituophis melanoleucus lodingi; N = 5) in Mississippi were excavated to characterize their hibernacula. Pituophis ruthveni hibernated exclusively in burrows of Baird's Pocket Gophers (Geomys breviceps), whereas P. 111. lodingi hibernated exclusively in chambers formed by the decay and burning of pine stumps and roots. All snakes hibernated singly at shallow depths (P. ruthveni mean = 19 cm, max. = 25 cm; P. m. lodingi mean = 25 cm, max. = 35 cm). Pituophis taxa at higher latitudes and elevations hibernate communally and at greater depths. In contrast to Northern Pine Snakes (Pituophis melanoleucus inelanoleucus), none of the pine snakes in our study excavated hibernacula beyond minimal enlargement of the preexisting chambers. These differences are presumably the result of mild winters, an abundance of suitable sites offering sufficient thermal insulation, and reduced predation risk caused by absence of communal hibernation in traditional sites. It is increasingly apparent that, throughout their annual cycle, pine snakes are dependent upon fire-maintained pine ecosystems.
Requesting Print Publications
Publication requests are subject to availability. Fiscal responsibility limits the hardcopies of publications we produce and distribute. Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, distributed and printed.
Please make any requests at email@example.com.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unuseable.
- To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.