Archive for March 11th, 2011

Louisiana Pine Snakes

Friday, March 11th, 2011

This is Passport to Texas

The Louisiana pine snake is so rare, it’s even hard for wildlife professionals to find.

Craig Rudolph is a research ecologist for the US Forest Service Southern Research Station. He says the US Forest Service and the zoo in Lufkin, TX, have established a new captive breeding program for the Louisiana pine snake.

There’s just one problem…

07—Over the last four years, we’ve only come up with one female, so that is obviously limiting our ability to establish this population.

The non-venomous snakes are native to East Texas and Louisiana, where they depend almost entirely on the pocket gopher. The snakes burrow into the gopher’s tunnel, then…

06—They wait in one of the feeding tunnels for the gopher to come along, and they function as ambush predators.

But, in East Texas, much of the gopher’s habitat has been destroyed. That means fewer gophers and fewer pine snakes. Rudolph says this problem isn’t new and they’ve been working to restore native habitat for decades.

12—Habitat on public land especially has been considerably improved over the last 10 to 20 years, primarily through more prescribed fire.

By the time the snakes are ready to be released in several years, researchers hope the habitat and, consequently, the gopher population will be ready for them.

That’s our show… the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration program supports our series… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.