A “snake factory” in Memphis is releasing pine snakes into the wild in Louisiana.
More than 100 captive-bred pine snakes, also known as “snake factories,” were released into the Kisatchie National Forest earlier this month, the Associated Press reported.
As part of a conservation effort to reintroduce the species to the wild, the initiative has been ongoing since 2010. The factories include the Memphis Zoo, the Fort Worth Zoo, the Lufkin Zoo, and the Audubon Zoo. Other organizations involved include the US Forest Service, the Southern Research Station, and the Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife.
In all, zoos breed about 150 snakes a year, Town Talk reported.
Although they are not venomous, pine snakes are often killed by people due to their defensive nature. They resemble rattlesnakes, which could be why people attack them.
As a result, they are endangered and rarely found in the wild. Another reason for its decline is the lack of a suitable habitat. Along with reintroduction efforts, officials are working to increase privately owned habitats in Louisiana.
“We provide the snakes in our snake factories, which are funded by the US Forest Service, in habitat that the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service have developed,” Steve Reichling, director of the US Forest Service, told the AP. conservation and research at the Memphis Zoo. “It’s a perfect marriage, really.”
Reichling believes that if reintroduction efforts continue, a stable population of pine snakes will thrive in the Kisatchie National Forest within a few years, according to the Memphis Zoo website.
The release of snakes from the “factory” happens every year. The exact location remains a secret so people don’t try to find and kill them. It is illegal to harm or kill them.
The good news is that once reintroduced, snakes seem to thrive.
Snakes can be extremely beneficial to the ecosystem as they control rodents and other pests.
Pine snakes spend most of their time burrowing underground. They feed mainly on rodents, amphibians, and eggs.
Officials try to find prey sources for the snake to determine if the habitat is suitable for them.
“That’s the key,” Emlyn Smith, a biologist with the Catahoula Ranger District for the US Forest Service, told Town Talk. “We find pocket gophers, then we know it’s suitable habitat for them because that’s where They need to live, in the tunnels.”
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