Defining the Louisiana Pine Snake Breeding Season
The Louisiana pine snake only lives in longleaf pine forests, which have disappeared in the face of logging, urban sprawl and the loss of natural fires. They are rarely seen in the wild and are considered one of the rarest snakes in North America.
The Louisiana pine snake’s biology presents a major constraint to its survival. While most other snakes produce large clutches of eggs, the Louisiana pine snake lays only three to five eggs, and in captive breeding programs, sometimes only one or two eggs per clutch hatch. This low reproductive rate means that the species might not recover quickly in the wild. Forest Service scientists have been studying the snake for decades and trapping the species in eastern Texas and western Louisiana since 1994. To determine when the snakes breed in the wild, they considered the timing of captures – if a male snake was caught in a trap that had recently (within nine days) captured a female, they assumed that was evidence of breeding interest. All of the recorded occurrences took place between April 12 and June 6, suggesting that in the wild, the snakes breed in late spring. In the captive breeding program, gestation averages about 50 days and incubation averages about 72 days. Protocols for the captive breeding of this rare and declining snake can be tailored to the snake’s natural cycles. Knowing when Louisiana pine snakes reproduce in the wild is critical for zoos and other facilities who want to develop protocols for captive breeding of this endangered species.
|Pituophis ruthveni (Louisiana pinesnake) Reproduction/breeding phenology||(publication)|
Forest Service Partners