Zoo releases snakes in Louisiana forest

By Wesley Harris

The Fort Worth Zoo released more than 50 snakes in Louisiana last week.

The snakes were set free in Louisiana’s Kisatchie National Forest, part of the natural habitat of the Louisiana Pine Snake.

The zoo said the snake is one of the rarest in North America.

According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, the pine snake is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The threats to the pine snake, according to LDWF, come from “habitat destruction from development and conversion to other incompatible uses, alteration of fire regime restricting the pine snake to portions of its previous range, and collisions with vehicles.”

The pine snake preys mostly on pocket gophers and spends most of it time underground in gopher burrows and stump holes. A small flap at the entrance to their windpipe allows pine snakes to produce a very loud hiss. They lay one of five of the largest eggs of any snake in the United States. 

The Fort Worth Zoo has run a breeding program since 2015 to maintain a diverse, healthy population of pine snakes.

The zoo hatches and raises the snakes. Once a year, the snakes are transported to Louisiana to be released into the wild.