Discover Maryland's Herps

Field Guide to Maryland's Snakes (Order Squamata)

Sub-order Serpentes, Family Colubridae

Northern Pinesnake
Pituophis m. 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.

    Maryland Distribution Map for Northern Pinesnake

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    Maryland Amphibian
    and Reptile Atlas Project

    "A Joint Project of the Natural History Society of Maryland, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources"

    For monthly newsletters of the Maryland Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project click on Recent Newsletters and scroll down to the MARA Newsletters.

    The Maryland Herpetology Field Guide is a cooperative effort of the MD Natural Heritage Program and the MD Biological Stream Survey within the Department of Natural Resources and their partners. We wish to thank all who contributed field records, text, and photographs, as well as support throughout its development.