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Hibernacula and summer den sites of pine snakes (Pituophis melanoleucus) in the New Jersey pine barrens

January 1, 1988

We examined eight summer dens (used only in summer) and seven hibernacula (occupied both in winter and summer) of the snake Pituophis melanoleucus in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, comparing above ground characteristics of hibernacula and summer dens with characteristics at nearby random points. Temperatures at the soil surface and at 10 cm depth were significantly warmer, and there was less leaf cover around the random points compared to the entrances of the hibernacula and summer dens. Hibernacula had significantly more vegetation cover within 5 m, more leaf cover over the burrow entrance, and were closer to trees than were summer dens. Most hibernacula and summer dens were beside old fallen logs (73%), the entrance tunnels following decaying roots into the soil. Excavation of the hibernacula and summer dens indicated that most hibernacula appeared to be dug by the snakes and had an average of eight side chambers and 642 cm of tunnels, compared to less than one side chamber and 122 cm of tunnels for summer dens. Except for hatchlings, most snakes in hibernacula were located in individual chambers off the main tunnel; all snakes were at depths of 50-111 cm (X̄ = 79 cm). Pine snakes may select optimum hibernation sites which reduce winter mortality.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1988
Title Hibernacula and summer den sites of pine snakes (Pituophis melanoleucus) in the New Jersey pine barrens
DOI 10.2307/1564337
Authors J. Burger, R.T. Zappalorti, M. Gochfeld, W.I. Boarman, M. Caffrey, V. Doig, S.D. Garber, B. Lauro, M. Mikovsky, C. Safina, Jorge Saliva
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Herpetology
Series Number
Index ID 1007812
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center