Distribution and Habitat Indices of Northern Pine Snakes in North Carolina

A survey of northern pine snake occurrences (Pituophis m. melanoleucus) was completed in North Carolina in 1990 to determine the distribution and habitat of this state-listed species of special concern. A total of 196 snakes at 163 locations was mapped and visited. Most of the snakes were killed by vehicular traffic. Sixteen pine snakes were recorded at 12 sites in 3 mountain counties, a single snake from each of 2 sites in 1 foothill county, and 26 snakes at 24 sites in 2 coastal counties. However, the majority of the snakes (78% of total) were recorded at 119 sites in 7 contiguous counties in the sandhills of central North Carolina. Most snakes were recorded in the vicinity of sandy soils, but several (N = 12) were observed in bottomlands. Data were recorded on several habitat variables at snake locations. The present study confirmed that northern pine snakes still have 3 population centers in North Carolina. Future studies, including the use of radiotelemetry, will help determine whether this species can co-exist with human activities in the remaining longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystem in North Carolina.

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