Squamata

Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)


Family Colubridae

Northern Pinesnake

Common Name:

Northern Pinesnake


Scientific Name:

Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus

Photo of Northern Pinesnake courtesy of Scott A. Smith
Photo of Northern Pinesnake courtesy of Scott A. Smith


Size:
48 - 66 inches. Record - 83 inches.

Appearance:
  • A stout-bodied snake with a cream, yellow or white back broken up with a series of irregular black blotches.
  • The belly and underside of tail are an unmarked cream, yellow or white.
  • The snout is elongated.
  • It makes a distinctive loud “hiss” when threatened, likened to air escaping from a truck tire (though see hognose snake).
  • Keeled scales.
  • Easily confused with a juvenile Eastern Ratsnake (Pantherophis alleghaniensis)

Photo of Northern Pinesnake courtesy of John White
Photo of Northern Pinesnake courtesy of John White


Habitats:

Flat sandy pine barrens and sand ridges, usually in or near pine woods.


How to Find:

There are only 6 historical records for this snake in Maryland (Worcester, Queen Anne’s and Anne Arundel counties) and its current status as a member of our fauna is questionable. However, this burrowing species is so secretive that it could go undetected in a populated area. Look under logs and debris in dry pine woods, particularly where there are sandy ridges, such as along the eastern side of the Pocomoke River and its tributaries. Non-venomous. Currently listed as Endangered Extirpated in Maryland. If you find an individual of this species please photograph it or hold it and immediately contact DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service.

Photo of Habitat for Northern Pinesnake courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers
Photo of Habitat for Northern Pinesnake courtesy of Rebecca Chalmers


Distribution in Maryland:

Possibly only found on the Coastal Plain of the Eastern Shore and Anne Arundel County.​

Northern Pinesnake - Distribution in Maryland