last changes: Sunday, January 06, 2008

Keeping and Breeding of the

Northern Pine Snake

    Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus

one of my adult pair

amel. boreaux female 1 year old

2 year old amel.yellow male

Keeping and behavior

The pine snakes are members of the calmer Pituophis and become normaly hand tame. Adult pine snakes reach often 2m and need a greater terrarium with some stable hiding places and, if possible, a klimbing branch. But the klimbing need of adult animals ranges in limits. In the morning the snakes klimb one time around in the branches and the rest of the days they stay on the ground. For a rarely visited bathbowl I use a open plastic box 30 x 17 cm with aprox. 3 l water in there. The preferd temperatures of the northern pine snake is aprox. 25-27°C.

The P. m. melanoleucus has a great appetit.


The snakes take a lot of sorts of rodents and birds. It's the same, wether the food is alive, fresch dead or thawned frost food. Til now my animals ate cloured mice and other mice sorts, rats, young rabbits, joung gouinie pigs and chicks.


You should offer them a 2-4month long hibernation periode at 5-15°C. In my terraria I too tried 1-month long brunation periodes with switched off lights and heat. The temperatures were 17-18°C. The animals overcome this period good, but in this years they produce no clutches of eggs. A friend of mine "hibernated" his melanoleucus 2002/2003 with switched off light and heat at 22 °C. Notwithstanding this female laid fertil eggs in next spring. Those little samples show, that not in all cases a cool hibernating is nessesary for fertil eggs.

Propagation and breeding

After the hibernation the snakes eat some times and they get in mating mood. In two cases there were matings in my terraria short after the (cold) hibernation without feeding.After the succsessful mating the eggs grow for 6-8 weeks in the body of the female. Some days after the pre egg laying shed it lay a cluch of 4-25 eggs.I know clutch sizes of 5 eggs fom my 3 years old animals and often 10-14 eggs from large old females.After the cluching I bring the eggs into the incubator and breed them at 27°C. After a medium incubation period of about 63-67 days the snakes begin to hatch.

Young snakes

After hatching the small northern pine snakes have a lenght of 36 und 50 cm. The coloration is similar tho the parents, but the ground color is more washed. Too, the saddle spots can change later form and coloration.Depending on the lenght of hatch the first food of my snakes might be defrosted some days old mice or nestyoung rats. Non feeders are the absolute exeption. The further keeping is without problems, when you keep the animal stress poor.

CB 2002, aprox. 1 month old


If there is a lot of food offered the growth rates are enormous. After a ½ to 1year the animals reach 1m. This quick growth normaly has no greater influence to the health and those animals will have, too, a long life and and healthy babys.

Maturity and lifespan

Depending on amount of food and the biological possibilitis of the animals the maturity begins in the 2nd or 3rd year.

In normal cases the snakes become aprox. 15 years.

My snakes

At this time I have an adult normal coloured pair in the terrariums. Furthermore there are amel. bordaeux and yellow animals, all in breeding age. And some US c.b. from Ocean- and Burlington County /New Jersey are in rearing.

Biology in Habitat

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