Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 17, 2015

Contact: Jaclyn Lopez, (727) 490-9190,

Two Rare Snakes in Florida Move Closer to Endangered Species Act Protection

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced that two increasingly rare reptiles in Florida may qualify for Endangered Species Act protection. The Center first petitioned for these species — the Florida pine snake and short-tailed snake — in July 2012 because habitat loss and other factors are threatening them with extinction.

Short-tailed snake
Short-tailed snake photo courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Photos are available for media use.

“These snakes are as fascinating as they are beneficial — they can climb trees and burrow in the ground, all the while keeping small critter populations in check,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center. “Endangered Species Act protection can help reverse their decline and draw attention to the alarming loss of wildlife habitat in Florida.”

The Center was joined in its petition for these two species and dozens of other reptiles and amphibians by several renowned scientists and herpetologists, including E.O. Wilson, Thomas Lovejoy and Michael Lannoo. More than 200 scientists sent a letter asking the Service to review the status of the petitioned animals.

Today’s “90-day finding” is the first in a series of required decisions on the petition and simply required the Fish and Wildlife Service to determine whether the petition presents sufficient information to warrant further consideration, a process that requires few agency resources. The next step is a full status review of the species by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

View an interactive state-by-state map showing where the petitioned species live.

Species Highlights

Florida pine snake: The Florida pine snake is one of the largest snakes on the east coast of North America, at 4- to 5-and-half feet long. It is nonvenomous and found throughout the state, but mostly north of southern Florida. It is tan and reddish, and while it can climb trees, it prefers dry sandy soils for burrowing. Due to habitat fragmentation and degradation, it is no longer found in many places throughout its historic range. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission protects it as a Species of Special Concern.

Short-tailed snake: The short-tailed snake is a slender snake about 1 to 2 feet long. It has a beautiful pattern of black and yellow markings on its back. It is adapted to digging and living underground and is native to Florida, mostly the central part of the state. Habitat alteration is the biggest threat to its survival; the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission protects it as a state-designated threatened species.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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