Burrowing ecology of the rare and elusive Louisiana pine snake, Pituophis ruthveni (Serpentes : Colubridae)

JG Himes

Abstract

The burrowing ecology of 12 adult and nine juvenile Louisiana pine snakes, Pituophis ruthveni, was studied during 1995-1997 in north-central Louisiana, U.S.A. Significantly more adult burrows connected to pocket gopher (Geomys breviceps) tunnels than did juvenile burrows, although a relatively high number of adult and juvenile snake burrows were blind-ended. Significantly more adult snake burrows were located in pine plantations and grasslands and significantly less were located in clearcuts than expected. Significantly more juvenile snake burrows were located in pine plantations than expected. Adult and juvenile snake burrows were located in areas that had relatively less leaf litter and canopy closure than expected. Excavation behavior by P. ruthveni was stereotyped and similar to excavation behavior by the bullsnake, Pituophis catenifer sayi and the northern pine snake, Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus.