Their scientific name is derived from the Greek word, “ drymos”, which means “forest” and “couperi”, which means “lord”. In the Southeast, indigo snakes are restricted to areas of xeric pine-oak sandhills, which are usually inhabited by gopher tortoises. In peninsular Florida, the species occurs in diverse habitat types including sandhills, oak scrub, sand pine scrub, mangrove swamps, wet prairies, cabbage palm-live oak hammocks and pine flatwoods. Burrows need to be in areas where there is no flooding. The eastern indigo snake ’s genus name ‘ Drymarchon ’ means lords of the forest in Greek while the scientific name has been given after James Hamilton Couper, an American planter. When identifying the eastern indigo, look for the following characteristics: bluish black in color, appearing iridescent purple in the light, orange-red on the chin, sides of the head and throat, males commonly reach 7–9 feet in length, females are slightly smaller. Your email address will not be published. This involves the males intertwining as they wrestle and fight, sometimes biting each other on the neck and inflicting deep gashes. It also requires different overwintering and summer foraging habitat that can be separated by considerable distance, resulting in a … Article was last reviewed on 4th January 2019. Its color is uniformly a lustrous black, although the chin, throat, and sometimes the cheeks may be red to creamy in color. Terms of Use The Latin name for the genus Drymarchon roughly translates to “forest ruler” from the Greek words drymos, meaning forest, and archon, meaning ruler. In the milder climates of central and southern Florida, the availability of thermal refugia may not be as critical to the snake’s survival, although they still seek and use underground refugia in the region. Preservation of these habitats is the best assurance of the continued existence of the snake within these park areas. Photos by J.D. The Nature Conservancy is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization (tax identification number 53-0242652) under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. It was first described in 1842 by American zoologist and herpetologist, John Edwards Holbrook. In the Coastal Plain of Georgia, Eastern Indigo Snakes favor habitats underlain by wind-blown deposits of sand 3 to 9 meters (10 to 30 feet) deep which are located along the northeastern sides of major blackwater streams (e.g., the Alapaha, Altamaha, Canoochee, Ohoopee and Satilla Rivers). Eastern Indigo Snakes have been characterized as a “late-maturing colubrid snake.” These traits include high adult survivorship, high longevity, low to medium fecundity, small annual clutches, low juvenile survivorship, male-biased sexual size dimorphism, high ratio of mature to immature individuals in the population, and a significant proportion of the population that is older than four years old. Pesticides that bioaccumulate through the food chain present a hazard to the snake as well. Eastern Indigo Snakes are one of the largest snakes in North America, reaching a maximum total length of 2.6 meters (8.58 feet). Basking often occurs at temperatures of 15 to 22°C (60 to 72°F) and at temperatures as low as 7°C (45°F). Habits: Indigo snakes are active strictly by day. The species requires large expanses of natural habitat for both overwintering and foraging. Reports of nest sites are rare, but those located in the field have been associated with Gopher Tortoise burrows including abandoned burrows. It happens to be the longest native snake species in the United States. Published on January 8th 2019 by staff under Snakes. In southeast Georgia, it is likely that males and females first breed when three to four years old. These snakes use gopher tortoise burrows as shelter during the winter and during the warmer months for nesting and refuge from intense summer heat. Eastern Indigo Snakes are indiscriminate carnivores known to feed on virtually any vertebrate they can overpower. In Georgia, Eastern indigo snakes prefer excessively drained, deep sandy soils along major streams, as well as xeric sandridge habitats. It is widely distributed throughout central and South Florida, but primarily occurs in sandhill habitats in northern Florida and southern Georgia. It is the longest native snake species in the U.S. Unfortunately, this staple reptile’s survival is at risk, especially in Alabama. Eastern Indigo Snakes have a number of common names: Indigo, Blue Indigo Snake, Black Snake, Gopher Snake, Blue Gopher Snake and Blue Bull Snake. (1,200 ac.). Fish & Wildlife Service ECOS Environmental Conservation Online System The eastern indigo snake frequents flatwoods, hammocks, dry glades, stream bottoms, cane fields, riparian thickets, and high ground with well-drained, sandy soils. Juvenile eastern indigo snakes eat mostly invertebrates. The snake had not been seen at the Conservancy’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve (ABRP) in Florida since 1982. The common name for Eastern Indigo Snakes relates to the large, smooth scales of this species which appear iridescent purple in sunlight. Eastern Indigo Snake on The IUCN Red List site -,, Eastern indigo snakes heavily use debris piles left from site-preparation operations on tree plantations. 2003. Incubation period lasts around 3 months. Eastern Indigo Snakes are active in the winter, emerging from refugia during suitable temperatures to bask and breed. Habitat selection varies seasonally. Though the population trend is now more steady, the prairie rattlesnake is still an extremely rare species. | The eastern indigo snake is an icon of the southern longleaf pine forest and is the longest native snake on the continent. Description: The eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi) is a massive, black snake. Eastern indigo snakes are widely distributed throughout central and south Florida but primarily occur in sandhill habitats in northern Florida and southern Georgia. Average Length: Males: 5.2 ft (1.58 m); Females: 4.5 ft (1.38 m). During this time they are often found in Gopher Tortoise burrows or similar retreats. Snakelets are completely independent at hatching and grow rapidly. 33034, Status of the Eastern Indigo Snake in Southern Florida National Parks and Vicinity. Habitat loss and fragmentation are the most significant causes of Eastern Indigo Snake decline. 13 days until #WorldSnakeDay2020! They eat turtles, lizards, frogs, toads, a variety of small birds and mammals, and eggs. Eastern Indigo Snakes have one of the largest home ranges of any North American snake species. Preservation of these habitats is the best assurance of the continued existence of the snake within these park areas. The eggs are soft-shelled, oval and granular-surfaced. The reintroduction of eastern indigo snakes in North Florida could be groundbreaking. From December to April, Eastern indigo snakes prefer sandhill habitats; from May to July they shift from winter dens to summer territories; from August through November they are located more frequently in shady creek bottoms than during other seasons. Eastern indigo snakes were listed as threatened because of dramatic population declines caused by over-collecting for the domestic and international pet trade as well as mortalities caused by rattlesnake collectors who gassed gopher tortoise burrows to collect snakes. Diet may include fish, frogs, toads, snakes, lizards, turtles, turtle eggs, small alligators, birds, and small mammals. Given their preference for upland habitats, eastern indigo snakes are not commonly found in great numbers in the wetland complexes of the Everglades, though their range extends south to the Florida Keys. The eastern indigo snake is especially associated with the well-drained soils of sandhill habitats in Florida. | Until relatively recently, all indigo snakes in the U.S. were considered to be the same species, D. corais. Indigo snakes regularly feed on mammals, birds, frogs and other snakes, including rattlesnakes and cottonmouths. Stand up for our natural world with The Nature Conservancy. Also, these snakes will occasionally feed on young gopher tortoises. Conservation Status: The eastern indigo snake is currently With the advent of cooling temperatures and shortening day lengths in autumn, adult Eastern Indigos concentrate on sand ridges and other upland habitats to breed. This species is protected throughout Since its listing as a threatened species, habitat loss and fragmentation by residential and commercial expansion have become much more significant threats to the eastern indigo snake. Eastern Indigo Snakes are rare and of very local occurrence in the Florida panhandle (west of Tallahassee) and in southwestern Georgia. Every acre we protect, every river mile restored, every species brought back from the brink, begins with you. Eastern indigo snakes are solitary and diurnal creatures. Eastern Indigo Snake is a snake from Colubridae family. In north Florida, female home ranges vary between 20 and 280 ha. In Alabama, Eastern indigo snakes rely on open pine savannas managed with frequent, low-intensity fire. The rare Eastern indigo snake is being reintroduced at our Apalachicola Bluffs Preserve. Threats to the snake included loss of habitat, which continues today, and over-collection for the pet trade. Extensive tracts of wild land are the most important refuge to sustain a breeding population of eastern indigo snakes. The Eastern Indigo Snake Is the Longest Snake in North America Identified by its beautiful blue-black sheen, this species is now native to peninsular Florida and southeast Georgia. The Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi) is a species that is federally threatened primarily because of habitat loss and fragmentation. (4 to 6 lbs.). Despite its docile nature when handled by humans, the Eastern Indigo Snake is a top predator and an icon for conservation. The eastern indigo snake ’s genus name ‘ Drymarchon ’ means lords of the forest in Greek while the scientific name has been given after James Hamilton Couper, an American planter. Range and Habitat: Eastern indigo snakes are restricted to Florida and southern areas of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. One Georgia specimen made a long-distance, interpopulation movement of 22 kilometers (14 miles). Home range size appears to fluctuate between South Georgia and north Florida and more southerly sites in central and south Florida, with snakes in southern Florida having smaller home ranges than those of their northern counterparts. Eastern indigo snakes are polygynandrous (promiscuous) and both males and females mate with multiple partners during the breeding season. Despite these intimidating acts, the indigo snake rarely bites. The Eastern indigo snake is a large, non-venomous snake native to the eastern United States. Unfortunately, current and anticipated future habitat fragmentation probably will result in a large number of isolated, small groups of indigo snakes. Eastern Indigo Snakes are a uniform bluish or gunmetal black, both dorsally and ventrally. Eastern Indigo Snakes are known to feed on fish, frogs, toads, small alligators, hatchling aquatic turtles, hatchling and juvenile Gopher Tortoises, lizards, other snakes, birds and their eggs, and small mammals. Todd M. Steiner, Oron L. Bass, Jr., and James A. Kushlan, 1983