The Louisiana pinesnake (Pituophis ruthveni): at risk of extinction?
Pituophis ruthveni (Louisiana Pinesnake) is one of the rarest snakes in the United States (Conant 1956; Young and Vandeventer 1988; Rudolph et al. 2006). The historical range included portions of eastern Texas and western Louisiana (Sweet and Parker 1990; Reichling 1995). This species is generally associated with sandy, well-drained soils; open pine forests, especially longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) savannahs; moderate to sparse midstory; and a well-developed herbaceous understory dominated by grasses. Baird’s Pocket Gophers (Geomys breviceps) are also associated with loose, sandy soils, a low density of trees, open canopy, and an herbaceous understory (Himes et al. 2006; Wagner et al. 2017) and are the primary prey of P. ruthveni (Rudolph et al. 2002, 2006, 2012). Pituophis ruthveni also use gopher burrow systems for shelter, thermoregulation (Ealy et al. 2004), hibernation (Rudolph et al. 2007), and escape from fire (Rudolph et al. 1998a).