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Posted by oldherper on April 02, 2003 at 17:14:41:
In Reply to: Example of black pine w/ lots of pattern. posted by azsuboc on April 02, 2003 at 07:47:07:
:This is a 2002 animal.
Juvenile lodingi often exibit quite a bit of pattern that becomes more obscured as they mature. That picture really doesn't look unusual for a juvenile.
I lived in Mobile County Alabama for a few years and collected a number of lodingi (before they came under protection). Several of the adults I collected showed nearly that much pattern. In fact, most of them have some amount of visible pattern. Very few are pure black with no pattern at all.
Of the intergrades I've seen that came from the easternmost extremety of their range, were intergrades with Southern or Florida Pine (mugitus) and the pattern on them was sort of a brownish or tan color with some white suffusion. I have seen some pure lodingi with some solid chocolate brown on them too. Most of the intergrades you will find now were bred that way in captivity crossing mugitus with lodingi for whatever reason someone would want to do that.
I've only seen a couple of examples from the Mississipi populations which represents the westernmost extent of the range, so I can't really provide much info on them.
I can't really state this as fact, but from what I saw, those that came from the Cottage Hill/Schillinger Road area down to Grand Bay and Theodore came closest to being solid black. Those that came from the area north of the Airport up to Creola and over to Citronella seem to have more visible pattern. I don't have any explanation for that, other than perhaps it is artifact influence from an early range overlap between melanoleucus and lodingi. The ranges of the two are separated now by a hundred miles, but who knows what they were a few hundred years ago. melanoleucus and mugitus intergrade over a wide area across a line from extreme eastern Alabama, across Georgia and into southern South Carolina.
On the other and, I have hatch clutches from both areas in which the juveniles showed a high degree of variation as babies, but they seemed to always mature to look pretty much like the parents.
Pine snakes are so secretive and in some areas of their ranges so seldom seen that it is really difficult to get clear pictures of where the range actually ends. Ruthveni has such a restricted range and is so seldom seen that for many years it was known from only 3 verified examples. Now I occasionally see them for sale. It was at one time considered one of the rarest snakes known.