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Eastern Indigo Snake Drymarchon couperi (Drymarchon corais couperi)


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Family: Colubridae, Colubrid Snakes view all from this family

Description 60-103 1/2" (152-263 cm). Largest North American snake. Heavy-bodied. Lustrous blue-black. Chin, throat, and sides of head suffused with cream, orange, or red. Scales smooth, in 17 rows. Anal plate single.

Endangered Status The Eastern Indigo Snake is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as threatened in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Habitat destruction and commercial collecting for the pet trade have taken a toll on this snake, and it is vanishing in the wild. The Indigo's favorite retreat, which it shares with rattlesnakes, is a Gopher Tortoise burrow. The practice of pouring gasoline down these burrows in order to flush out rattlers has reduced the Indigo's numbers.

Breeding Mates November to February. Deposits 5-12 leathery eggs, 3-4" (76-102 mm) long, April to May. Hatchlings 19-26" (48-66 cm) long appear late July to October.

Habitat Pine woods, turkey oak, and palmetto stands near water, orange groves, and tropical hammocks; in Texas: dry grassland and thickets near ponds and rivers.

Range Se. Georgia through Florida Keys; historically occurred from extreme se. South Carolina and west to se. Mississippi.

Discussion The Eastern Indigo Snake has recently been split from the Western Indigo Snake, which occurs in the United States only in Texas. Not a constrictor, the Indigo immobilizes food with its jaws. It feeds on frogs, small mammals and birds, other snakes - including venomous ones - lizards, and young turtles. When disturbed, it hisses, vibrates its tail, and flattens its neck. Long-lived; one captive lived nearly 26 years.