Pine Woods Snake

Pine Woods Snake


09.07.2006 - This is a Pine Woods Snake, (Radinaea flavilata). It is an uncommon snake. It lives throughout most of the Florida peninsula and spotty areas throughout the SE coast, but it's not very common. It's an orange/rust/pinkish colored snake that spends most of its time under debris, eating bugs and little lizards and stuff like that. It rarely grows to more than 14 inches, and this one was about 10 inches. The only reason I'm even bothering to write about it is because it was a new snake find for me. It looks similar to the SE Crown Snake or the Florida Brown Snake, both of which I've found, but this one definitely looked a little bit different, so I took the above poor-quality photo and then later researched exactly which species it was. I found it while doing a bat control job in Saint Petersburgh, Florida. So I simply photographed it and let it be.  I'm always excited to add a new snake to my list of discovered species, and glad that relatively rare snakes like this still manage to survive.  Good luck, little snake.

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The Pine Woods Snake (Rhadinaea Flavilata) is one of the smallest snakes that is commonly present in the south eastern United States, and this vulnerability means that it is also a very secretive snake that is rarely seen. The name of the snake gives a lot of information about its favored habitat and where it is likely to be found, but it has a number of traits that means it doesn't make for a very good pet. Although the snake is no threat to humans, it has become known to be a pest as it can often find its way to domestic properties where it can find its way in to the pine straw that will accumulate on the roof of some homes.

Appearance And Diet
The Pine Woods Snake is generally a brown-red in color, in some cases edging into a copper shade, and the head is in good proportion to the body. The underside of the snake is a much lighter pink color which puts people in mind of an earthworm. One distinctive trait of the snake is that the scales around the top of the mouth are usually yellow, which is why it is sometimes called the yellow-lipped snake. The adult will usually grow between ten and twelve inches in length, and they have eyes which are relatively large in comparison with the head. Because it is such a small snake, it is generally only likely to eat small animals, with small lizards and frogs being among the main prey for this snake. Because of the small size it is also likely to eat other smaller snakes and even insects if it is available. It kills its prey using venom injected using small fangs towards the back of the mouth, but this venom isn't dangerous to humans.

Behavior And Habitat
The Pine Woods Snake is a very nervous snake that will look to avoid any contact with larger animals and people where possible. When they are confronted by people they will usually be very nervous, and do not react well to being handled. They can also emit a foul musk which is particularly unpleasant, and is a defensive mechanism which has developed in order to repel predators.

They are natural burrowers, and will usually be found in a den in a rotting log or under leaves, but it is under the rotting bark of pine trees that they are most commonly found. They can be found in woodlands, particularly those that are damp or temperate, where the conditions are particularly suited to rotting wood. The main bulk of the population of the Pine Woods Snake is to be found in Florida, but it can often be found in pockets of population ranging from North Carolina all the way across to Louisiana.

Reproduction And Growth Cycle
As with the majority of snakes that are to be found in the south eastern states, their mating season is in the spring, and they will generally lay their eggs in the rotten logs where they feel safest. Unlike other snakes that can give birth to a great number of snakes, the Pine Woods Snake will only lay a small clutch of between two to four eggs which will eventually hatch in the late summer.

When the young are born they can be up to five inches in length, and they will grow quickly to adulthood within a few months, and will be ready to mate by the springtime. These snakes will continue growing gradually throughout their lives, as all snakes do, but the Pine Woods Snake will usually have a lifespan of up to three years in the wild.

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Snakes are animals that make a lot of people cautious and sometimes, downright frightened. There are so many stories about snakes, and people often linked these to superstitions and fables. Pine woods snakes are very intriguing snakes with distinct characteristics that set them apart from most snakes. They are native to southeastern regions of the USA, but you can see them in other areas, and they are harmless to humans.


BIOLOGY: How Pine Woods Snakes Look
The zoonotic or biological name of pine woods snakes is Rhadinea flavilata, and this snake is a small species. It is usually brown, but the color could vary. Its underside is yellow or creamy, and it has a yellow upper lip that earned the snake its other name; the yellow-lipped snake. They are about one foot long, but sometimes they can grow longer than that, and these snakes do not have venom. However, pine woods snakes can bite, and this bite can lead to an infection if you do not take care of the injury. The pine woods snake produces a toxin in its saliva that helps it to capture prey and feed, but this toxin is harmless to humans.

FEEDING HABITS: What Pine Woods Snakes Eat
Pine woods snakes are meat-eaters. They eat smaller reptiles like frogs, lizards, and other snakes, and do not feed on dead meat but like to hunt and eat. Unlike larger snakes, pine woods snakes do not feed on a large meal but eat small portions frequently. They do not like to work too hard to get their prey, so they eat only the easiest prey at the time. These snakes are essential within the ecosystem because their feeding behavior keeps the population of other reptiles in check.

HABITAT: Where Pine Woods Snakes Live
Pine woods snakes like to live in coastal regions, and you can find them within 50 miles of the southeastern areas of the USA. Other places where you can find these snakes are parts of North and South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana. Some of these snakes live farther from water, and this takes them further inland, but most of them are on the coastlines. They are timid animals, so it is quite challenging to determine what their ideal home space is, but they love living in dead vegetation, especially in dead pine barks. They also live in burrows of other animals when they are empty, and sometimes, they make their own.

REPRODUCTION: How Pine Woods Snakes Have Their Young
Pine woods snakes are oviparous snakes. That means that they lay eggs and do not give birth to their young ones alive. The eggs are extremely sensitive, and any disturbance will damage the eggs and kill the young snakes within the egg. The pine woods snake mates in mid-spring, and lays its eggs a few months after mating. The female can lay as many as four eggs that hatch after some weeks. The baby snakes look like miniature adults, and you can use the snake's size to age the snake. Their lifespan averages 2 years, but some live as long as three years. One fun fact is that these snakes are most active at night, and if you see them during the day, it is either because it is the mating season or something disturbed their nest.

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