Eastern Indigo Snake: Species Profile
The eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon corais couperi) is a large, black, non-venomous snake found in the southeastern United States. Reaching lengths of almost 9 feet, it is the longest native snake in the United States. Its color is uniformly a lustrous black, although the chin, throat, and sometimes the cheeks may be red to creamy in color. Diet may include fish, frogs, toads, snakes, lizards, turtles, turtle eggs, small alligators, birds, and small mammals. Juvenile eastern indigo snakes eat mostly invertebrates.
Eastern indigo snakes are widely distributed throughout central and south Florida but primarily occur in sandhill habitats in northern Florida and southern Georgia. 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. Preferred habitat includes pine and scrubby flatwoods, pine rocklands, dry prairie, tropical hardwood hammocks, edges of freshwater marshes, agricultural fields, coastal dunes, and human-altered habitats. Eastern indigo snakes need a mosaic of habitats to complete their annual life cycle. In the northern range of their territory they require sheltered retreats from winter cold and desiccating conditions and often coexist with gopher tortoises inside their burrows. In wetter habitats that lack gopher tortoises, eastern indigo snakes may take shelter in hollowed root channels, hollow logs, or the burrows of rodents, armadillo, or land crabs. 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.
Did You Know?
The Everglades used to span from Lake Okeechobee in central Florida all the way down to Florida Bay. Now only 25% of the historic Everglades remains, which is being protected by the National Park.