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Eastern Indigo Snake by Richard Bartlett on 2023-03-27 08:50:00


An adult Eastern Indigo from Southern Florida.

In contrast to many other snake species that are warm weather specialists, the Eastern Indigo Snake, Drymarchon couperi, is active and breeding during our cooler weather. To see one in the wild is a spectacular event. Indigos are smooth scaled serpents of large size. Males may exceed 7 feet, females are about a foot shorter. Both gender are alert and so heavy-bodied that they put the Black Racer (with which they are often confused by non-herpers) to shame. In addition, the Indigo is a glossy, a shiny, black (so shiny that it often has a blue sheen in bright light) while the black racer is a soft, non-shiny, satin black. The chin of the Eastern Indigo may be black or red.

Indigo snakes have a comparatively huge home range. They favor brush piles, stump holes, gopher tortoise and mammalian burrows, with tortoise burrows being of prime importance. Tracking summations indicate the range of a single indigo often exceeds 150 acres and occasionally nearly twice that amount. Habitats vary seasonally from longleaf pine plantations and stream beds to sandy ridges. A few reintroduction programs are underway to bring Indigos back to state and federal parks and some other private/public holdings. Presently the Indigo can be found in southern Georgia, southern Alabama, and Florida, and perhaps in extreme se Mississippi and the low country of se South Carolina.

Adult prey items of adult indigos include birds and mammals of suitable size, as well as other reptiles including pit vipers, while juveniles add amphibians and smaller reptiles to the culinary list. Like King Snakes, Indigos are immune to pit viper venom

Indigo Snakes are often thought of as gentle snakes that are disinclined to strike or bite but if surprised, they may vibrate the tail. Because of their tractability they were often sought after for pet snakes. This popularity along with massive habitat loss has resulted in protection at state and federal levels. They cannot be collected from the wild. A federal permit is needed for interstate trade/sale. Be certain to know all relevant state and federal laws.

Indigos are oviparous. Clutches usually number 4 to12 large eggs. Hatchlings are ~20 in length and may be flecked with blue dorsally.
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