A snake that depends on longleaf pine forests for survival has been granted protections under the Endangered Species Act. The black pine snake (P
A snake that depends on longleaf pine forests for survival has been granted protections under the Endangered Species Act. The black pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus lodingi) has lost up to 95 percent of its habitat due to fire suppression efforts, urban development, and the conversion of those forests for agricultural and pine plantation uses. It is now listed as Threatened under the Act.
“The protection of yet another longleaf-dependent wildlife species should be a wake-up call that the Southeast is losing its natural heritage through the destruction of this critically endangered ecosystem,” Collette Adkins with the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement released by the Center. “Endangered Species Act protection for this beautiful snake will help safeguard its future, along with the future of the South’s once-extensive longleaf pine forests.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opened comments on whether to list the snake as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in 2014 and has been a candidate for federal protections since 1999. It is currently only found in a few counties in Alabama and Mississippi and hasn’t been seen in Louisiana in more than 30 years.
The black pine snake’s habitat includes upland, longleaf pine forests, in sandy soils and grassy ground cover. The snake, which has been a candidate for federal protection since 1999, reaches 4 to 7 feet in length and feeds on rodents, including mice, rats and squirrels and rabbits.
John Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, 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