The Pine Snake

Northern Pine Snake
Northern Pine Snake (Pituophis melanoleucus): gray/white snake with black blotches, hisses loudly, 1

In the forests around S.C. Highway 11 (the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway) and in select areas of the lower mountains lives a large (to over 5 feet) burrowing snake that is unfamiliar to most people. This is the northern pine snake, a handsome whitish/gray animal with large black blotches on its back. In addition to its coloration, the pine snake has another distinct trait that will help you identify it. Like the hognose snake, when they are disturbed pine snakes assume a defensive posture and hiss loudly. However, unlike hognose snakes, the pine snake is not bluffing. An irritated pine snake will hiss, then strike and bite (their bite is non-venomous). 

Because of its burrowing habits, the pine snake in the upstate is somewhat of a mystery. There are only a couple of reports of this snake each year in our area, and otherwise  information about its habits, distribution, and abundance remains largely unknown.