North Carolina

These large ‘elusive’ snakes live underground in NC. Experts need help finding them

The pine snake is “a large, heavy-bodied snake, typically reaching between 4 to 5 feet, but can be as large as 7 ½ feet,” state officials say.
The pine snake is “a large, heavy-bodied snake, typically reaching between 4 to 5 feet, but can be as large as 7 ½ feet,” state officials say. N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission photo

It’s tough to miss a snake that grows to 7 and a half feet long, but state biologists in North Carolina are asking for the public’s help to find them.

Specifically, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is asking for reports of the northern pine snake, which is rarely seen for a reason that seems perfectly scripted for a horror movie.

“Sightings of these large but elusive snakes in the wild (is) not an easy task, given the reptile’s propensity to spend most of its time underground,” the commission says.

Yes, there are long, “heavy-bodied” monster snakes living underfoot in North Carolina.

While this is certainly disconcerting, pine snakes are “neither dangerous nor venomous,” experts say.

The species does appear on the decline, however, for reasons that remain a mystery. That’s why biologists need help defining how widespread they are in the state.

It’s believed the snakes may be found in three distinct parts of North Carolina: “The Sandhills, the southern Coastal Plain and the southwestern mountain counties,” the commission says.

If one does pop up out of the ground in one of those regions, it’s most likely going to be in a pine or oak forest, experts say.

“The best chance of spotting one is during the day, in these open areas, as they move from burrow to burrow,” according Sam McCoy, a wildlife technician with the agency.

“Although the best time of the year to see one is in the spring and early summer, September and October are also good times since pine snakes are beginning to move to locations where they will spend the winter,” he said in the news release.

He says the survey is the first step in a conservation plan for the species, which currently cannot be captured or kept without a state permit.

The commission asks anyone who sees a pine snake to email pinesnake@ncwildlife.org, with a photo of the snake, date and time, and location where it was seen.

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