Pine Woods Snake
Scientific name: Rhadinaea flavilata (COPE 1871)
* Currently accepted name
* scientific names used through time
- Dromicus flavilatus – COPE 1871
- Leimadophis flavilatus – ALLEN 1932
- Rhadinaea flavilata – CONANT 1958
Description: Average adult size is 10-12 inches (25.4-30.4 cm), record is 15.75 inches (40 cm). Adults are slender, and yellowish-brown to reddish. The lips are whitish-yellow, and there is a thin dark line that runs through the eye to the corner of the jaw. The belly is uniform whitish-yellow. The scales are smooth and there are 17 dorsal scale rows at midbody. The pupil is round. Juvenile coloration is similar to adults.
A. Top of the head
B. Underside of the head (chin and throat)
C. Elongated scales below the tail (subcaudal scales) are typically divided
D. Front (face view) of the head
E. Side of the head
F. Smooth scales
Range: In Florida, the Pine Woods Snake occurs throughout most of the peninsula south to around Lake Okeechobee, and in isolated populations in the central panhandle. Outside of Florida, it occurs in isolated populations along the coastal plain from North Carolina to eastern Louisiana.
Habitat: Uncommon, found in pinelands, hardwood hammocks, cypress strands, bayheads, and barrier islands.
Comments: HARMLESS (Non-Venomous). The Pine Woods Snake does not bite when handled. It has fangs in the rear of its mouth, which are used to subdue its prey, primarily small lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes, and insects. The Pine Woods Snake is a terrestrial burrower. It is occasionally found under rotting logs and leaves, but most often under the bark of dead pine trees. However, it is also found in areas where pine flatwoods habitat has been lost to urban development and all that remains is slash pines scattered among houses. This species has been found under pine straw that accumulates on the roofs of houses. It lays small clutches of eggs, and 5 inch (12.7 cm) long young hatch in the summer months.
Comparison with other species: The Brown Snakes (Storeria dekayi), Florida Brown Snake (Storeria victa), Redbelly Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata), Rough Earth Snake (Virginia striatula), and Smooth Earth Snake (Virginia valeriae) lack together a thin black stripe through the eye and the yellowish lips.