Ben here with today's edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

Ben here with today's edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

Ben here with today's edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

We're continuing to count down Virginia's top five rarest snakes with our number three pick: Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus, the Northern pine snake!

The Northern pine snake has a scattershot range with the largest distribution occurring in South Carolina. In Virginia, it has only ever been recorded in four counties: Augusta, Bath, Botetourt, and Craig. However, you can't just head to one of those counties and expect to trip over a pine snake; according to the Virginia Herpetological Society website, even people who live within the range of these snakes almost never see them.

These snakes are secretive and spend a great deal of time in burrows. Based on the isolated sightings that have taken place in Virginia, these snakes seem to like dry, open habitats on mountain slopes, ridges, and hills, especially with sandy soil that they can easily burrow beneath. All known observations of this snake in Virginia have taken place between May and August.

While little is known about these snakes in Virginia, in other parts of their range, they have been observed to prey on small rodents, birds, and bird eggs. If Northern pine snakes are threatened by predators, they will inflate their lungs and quickly expel air from their mouths, causing a loud hissing sound. This tends to scare off predators (and I have a feeling it would also work on me). However, like all the snakes we're looking at this week, these guys are non-venomous.

Thank you to the Virginia Herpetological Society ( for the use of this photo, which was taken by John White.

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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