Northern Pine Snake

Image Credit : La Ferme Tropicale

Pituophis melanoleucus is a harmless (nonvenomous) colubrid species. Three subspecies are currently recognized; Pituophis melanoleucus lodingi (Black Pine Snake), Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus (Northern Pine Snake) which is pictured and Pituophis melanoleucus mugitus (Florida Pine Snake).

The head is small and somewhat pointed with an enlarged rostral scale that extends upward between the internasal scales. The color pattern consists of a light ground color overlaid with black, brown or reddish-brown blotches.

  • Scientific name : Pituophis melanoleucus
  • Distribution : Southeastern USA
  • Average Size : 1.5 m (5 ft)
  • Life Span : 20 years or more
  • Difficulty : Intermediate


PVC Cage or a Terrarium are suitable. Pine snakes can grow quite large, and can require a decent amount of space to keep them properly. Adult snakes can be kept in a 55 (1.20 x 0.3 x 0.5 meters (4 x 0.9 x 1.6 feet)) to 75 (1.20 x 0.5 x 0.5 meters (4 x 1.6 x 1.6 feet)) gallon glass tank with a secured screen cover. To prevent the snake from damaging themselves by looking for a way out of the enclosure, a hide box is necessary.

Hide box

A great idea for your pine, one that fits them snug at whatever stage of life they are in on both ends of the enclosure.


Substrate for your pine can be ground pine bark mulch a few inches deep or aspen shavings. The mulch and shavings will enable your snake to burrow. Pines do enjoy burrowing.

Lighting – Heating

It is recommended to provide a natural light pattern that mimics normal daytime according to the season.
Pituophis melanoleucus need a hot spot of anywhere between 30-32 ºC (86-90 ºF). Depending on which subspecies you have. Always look up specific requirements for the sub species you have. Most can deal with a cool side of 24-26 ºC (75-80 ºF) – ambient air temperature approximately 24-29 ºC (75-85ºF), Thermal Gradient is the best way via under tank heat pad on a thermometer or rheostat but a basking light can be used.


Water supply is very important, they can have a tendency to mess in their water bowls. Please check daily and disinfect as needed.


Not high, just moderate, 30-40%.


Prey items not much wider than the widest part of its body. Increase the prey size as your pine grows. Feeding too much at once or too large of a food item may lead to regurgitation. An adult Pine should be fed at least one small adult rat every 7 days. A juvenile should be fed 1-2 correctly sized prey items every 5 days.


Pine snakes are exciting, they wrap in to an S shape and hiss VERY loudly sometimes accompanied with rattling the tail. They are quite full of personality. They will also hiss while you handle them, which can put some people off. Usually this is all bravado, however some will strike. Pine snakes quickly calm down and stop striking after a relatively short period of handling. Some pine snakes seem to enjoy being handled after they become used to it.


A good disinfectant like F10 once a week for the entire cage and contents.


Pine snakes will shed well if you keep the proper conditions. Obviously it’s good to increase the humidity during the shedding time.

Potential Health Problems

No specific potential health problems to mention for this species beyond those affecting reptiles and/or snakes in general. They seem to be a relatively hardy animal when kept properly.


Stampede Reptiles

The information contained in this care sheet reflect the opinions and methods of the mentioned breeder, based on their expertise and long-established experience.