Rare snakes hatch at Jacksonville Zoo

Snakes will eventually be released into native habitat

By Stacey Readout - Assistant News Director
Headline Goes Here Mark Beshel, Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens announced the successful hatching of one of the rarest native snakes in the United States.

Two Louisiana Pine Snakes hatched on Wednesday at the local zoo. They're found only in a few areas in western Louisiana and bordering counties of Texas.

IMAGES: New snakes at Jacksonville Zoo

The snakes spend a lot of time in and around the burrows of pocket gophers -- its main food source. This species is a non-venomous constrictor in the same family as rat snakes, according to the zoo.

This is the third year The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens participated in the captive breeding and release program. It purchased a cooling device similar to an incubator in early 2014. Four eggs were laid shortly thereafter, but all were infertile.

This year, four eggs were produced again, two of which were fertile and hatched successfully.

Once the snakes are deemed healthy, they will be taken to western Louisiana and released into their native habitat.

"This species has not seen much success breeding in captivity," said Stefanie Jackson, Herpetology Keeper at The Jacksonville Zoo.  "Any healthy hatchlings produced are extremely valuable to the future of the species. We are ecstatic to see all of our hard work pay off, and be able to contribute directly to the conservation of this critically imperiled species!"

A total of 23 snakes will be released this year among all the conservation facilities combined.

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