Fun Northern Pine Snake Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 10, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Isobel Murphy
Northern pine snake facts are fascinating to learn about.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.3 Min

In this article, we will learn all about the popular snake in the family Colubridae, the northern pine snake. This snake is a subspecies of pine snakes.

Other subspecies of pine snakes include the black pine snake, the Florida pine snake, the Northern Mexican pine snake, and the Louisiana pine snake. The northern pine is commonly known by a variety of different names like bull snake, black and white snake, and New Jersey pine snake.

This long snake has a pointed snout and has a base color of white, yellow, or light gray. It has dark brown blotches all over its body which keep getting darker towards the tail.

It is found in the northern and east-central United States. This pine snake can most commonly be found in New Jersey.

Like most snakes, these pine snakes are shy and spend the majority of their time hidden away in burrows. Their habitat ranges from dry upland forests to pine flatwoods.

When threatened, the bullsnake rattles and hisses loudly. Keep reading to know more about this special subspecies of the pine snake.

If you like learning more about reptiles, be sure to check out these facts about the copperhead snake and the worm snake too.

Northern Pine Snake Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a northern pine snake?

The northern pine snake, as the name suggests, is a type of snake.

What class of animal does a northern pine snake belong to?

The northern pine snake belongs to a species of non-venomous snakes and belongs to the class Reptilia, the order Squamata, and the family Colubridae.

How many northern pine snakes are there in the world?

Not enough studies have been conducted to calculate the total population of northern pine snakes. Their population is stable in most places. However, in certain places, especially New Jersey, its population has been declining and several measures have been undertaken to protect this subspecies.

Where does a northern pine snake live?

The typical northern pine snake range extends throughout the northern and east-central United States. The coastal plain of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia are popular places where these snakes can be found. In New Jersey, they occur within pinelands habitats in the outer coastal plains.

What is a northern pine snake's habitat?

The northern pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus) can mostly be found on sandy and infertile soils and in old, abandoned fields. Dry upland forest openings with pines and well-drained soils with very little shrub cover, leaf litter, and dry mountain ranges also make good habitats for these snakes.

Who do northern pine snakes live with?

Most northern pine snakes are solitary in nature and prefer staying alone in their own nests, just like a  smooth green snake does. Some, however, can be found sharing their nests with other members of their species.

How long does a northern pine snake live?

There is very little information available regarding the lifespan of northern pine snakes. Pine snakes, in general, have a long lifespan and can live for up to 20 years in captivity. The oldest known pine snake was aged 22 years, living for 10 years less than a corn snake.

How do they reproduce?

Information regarding the reproduction cycle of pine snakes is somewhat limited. What we do know is that pine snakes become sexually mature when they are about three years old. The breeding season is short and lasts from April to May (similar to a hognose snake).

They are oviparous and lay an average of eight eggs in underground burrows between May and July. The incubation period lasts for 51-100 days.

No parental care is given after the eggs have been laid. The snakelets (also known as hatchlings) are quite big when they hatch. Juveniles tend to have dull skin, which brightens after their first shedding.

What is their conservation status?

The northern pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus) is Not Evaluated in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, their population has been declining, which has resulted in special protection acts in various states.

In Northern Carolina, it is listed as a Threatened species and it is considered a Species of Greatest Conservation Need. Hence, it is a protected species in North Carolina and requires a special permit if anyone wants to collect it from the wild.

Northern Pine Snake Fun Facts

What do northern pine snakes look like?

The northern pine snake's (Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus) color can range between light gray, yellow, and white. They also have squarish-dark blotches all over their bodies.

Their heads are small in comparison to their body, with a slightly pointed snout. They have keeled scales and a single anal plate. They also have four prefrontal scales, in contrast to two prefrontal scales like most snakes.

Close up of a Florida pine snake

* Please note that this is an image of a Florida pine snake, not a northern pine snake. If you have an image of a  northern pine snake please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

How cute are they?

The word 'cute' doesn't generally come to mind when talking about reptiles. Pine snakes seem intimidating and scary at first glance. They, however, are nonvenomous and cause no harm to humans.

How do they communicate?

Communication patterns in pine snakes have not been researched enough. Snakes, in general, communicate with other snakes through chemicals and use their vomeronasal system to smell approaching predators and while tracking their prey. This communication pattern of snakes can give us an idea about the methods of northern pine snake communication as well.

How big is a northern pine snake?

Northern pine snakes are one of the largest snakes found in northeastern North America. These snakes usually have a length between 2-6 ft (0.6-1.8 m). These pine snakes are about five times smaller than the king cobra.  

How fast can a northern pine snake move?

More research is required to calculate the speed of a northern pine snake.

How much does a northern pine snake weigh?

A common pine snake weighs about 4-8 lb (1.8-3.6 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no distinction between the names used to identify male and female snakes.

What would you call a baby northern pine snake?

A baby pine snake can be referred to as a 'snakelet'. Newborns are known as 'neonates'.

What do they eat?

Pine snakes are carnivores and hunt for a variety of different prey. Their diet mostly consists of various rodents. Apart from these, birds and bird eggs, and other small mammals constitute the majority of their diet. Juvenile snakes prey on lizards, insects, and various small mammals.

Are they poisonous?

These North American snakes are a non-venomous species. Their bite, however, can inflict pain and wounds.

Would they make a good pet?

Pine snakes can be kept as pets and are commonly available due to their frequent breeding in captivity. Some states, however, have a protective status for these snakes so it is important to be fully aware of the laws of owning this snake.

If you do plan on getting one as a pet, a 55-75 gal (208.1-284 L) tank with a secured cover is a must. The tank must also include branches and large stones for the snake to climb.

Water should be available at all times and cleaned regularly. The snake needs to be fed twice a week and feeding should be avoided during the shedding season.

Did you know...

Male snakes are generally found near logs and bark while the females can mostly be found under the oak leaves.

These snakes build communal nests. Many females lay their eggs inside a single nest.

These snakes are secretive in nature and are excellent burrowers. They spend the majority of their time hidden away, which makes them difficult to spot.

The snakes can catch and immobilize several small mammals at once by squeezing and suffocating them. Snakes have also been known to hunt inside rodent burrows.

Northern pine snakes and Florida pine snakes belong to the same species but differ in appearance. The former has a white-creamy dorsum with dark blotches all over its body while a Florida pine snake can be gray to rusty brown in color.

Do northern pine snakes rattle?

Northern pine snakes hiss loudly and their tails start vibrating when they feel threatened. These snakes make a rattling sound by forcing the air out of their lungs and vibrating their epiglottis.

Why are northern pine snakes protected?

In recent years, the pine snake population has seen a decline due to a large number of factors like habitat loss, a declining prey base, poaching, forest fires, and fragmentation.

Several states have declared this species as Threatened. In Georgia, pine snakes have been granted the state conservation rank of S3, which is for rare to uncommon species.

Conservation measures such as enhancing their habitat by using wires to protect their nests, enforcing new laws regarding their unfair trade, and educating others about the importance of pine snakes have been taken up by various states to ensure that their population becomes stable.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our Burmese python facts and sea snake facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Northern pine snake coloring pages.

* Please note that the main image is of a southern pine snake, not a northern pine snake. If you have an image of a  northern pine snake please let us know at hello@kidadl.com.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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