Northern Pine Snake (Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus)

Northern pine snakes have a cartilage structure in the throat just in front of the windpipe. When they exhale,
they make a hissing sound which can be extremely loud. They can also puff up their body, raise the front part of their body off the ground, and “rattle” their tails. All of these actions, presumably, are designed to scare off predators.

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo exhibitions the northern pine snake in Professor Beardsley’s Research Station.


The northern pine snake is one of the largest North American snakes. They usually have a white to light tan colored body covered by black, brown, or copper blotches extending from head to tail. They have keeled scales and a light or white colored belly. Northern pine snakes are nonvenomous constrictors, egg-layers, and have large (6-7 feet) heavy bodied snakes. Their heads are slightly pointed, and they have very muscular necks. Northern pine snakes have a scale at the front of their snout which acts as a shield and helps protect the nose as it burrows. They spend much of their time in underground burrows.


Forests, woods, plains, and sand hills.


North America from New Jersey, West Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina.


Eggs, rodents (especially pocket gophers), and lizards.

Life Span: 

About 20 years.

Family Life: 

After mating in the spring, the female northern pine snake lays a clutch of between 3 and 24 eggs. She usually lays the eggs in a nest dug in the soil found under logs or rocks.