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6/14/17- The Eastern Indigo Snake

By Meaghan English, TrueSouth Properties Wildlife Specialist

 

The abundant amount of rainfall the past few weeks has displaced many critters from their usual homes. The heightened water levels in ditches and other low lying areas have forced animals to seek shelter elsewhere. A creature that is no stranger to being homeless is the Eastern Indigo Snake. Drymarchon couperi is an endangered species that faces challenges every day and relies on human intervention to survive in the wild.
The Eastern Indigo were once a very dominant species in the state of Alabama, as well as South Carolina and Texas, but have reached all time low numbers in the last few decades. Today, the species is found in Florida and some parts of Georgia. The downfall of this species can be blamed on mostly humans. Urban sprawl, poaching, and extermination of these snakes by humans have brought them near extinction. Eastern Indigos prefer wetland habitat over dry land, but can survive in almost any kind of habitat. They especially prefer habitats shared with gopher tortoises so that they can utilize the gopher tortoise burrows to escape the heat and predators. Indigos are known to utilize different burrows at different stages of their lives. They will also use burrows or shelters that belong to other animals and rodents. It is important for Indigos to escape into these burrows to escape being killed. Indigos are the largest snake in the United States and can reach up to 7 feet long! Coupled with its long stature, the Indigo is also a deep indigo/black color and has a reddish chin. Most people use the chin as a distinguishing factor between an Indigo and a black racer. They are also one of the longest living snakes and can live up to 25 years in the wild! Sadly, we as humans are cutting down their life expectancy. We are destructing habitat with urbanization and logging activities as well as poaching and killing them. Fortunately, many students in the wildlife field are finding areas to transport the snakes and are relentlessly trying to reestablish populations in desirable habitat. For example, many scientists and biologists have chosen Conecuh National Forest (where they are also trying to reestablish gopher tortoises) to reestablish the Indigos. Hopefully, the snakes will begin to multiply and there will be a healthy, thriving population of Eastern Indigos again in Alabama!
Although it may not appear so, the Eastern Indigo is actually a very docile creature that is killed for unnecessary reasons. The large bodies of these snakes usually end up getting them killed and now they are on the Endangered Species list. Since we are to blame mostly for their endangerment, it is only right that we do all we can to reverse this. If you see an Indigo in the wild, contact a wildlife biologist or the state so that the snake may have a fighting chance. Transportation to a protected area will ensure the safety and longevity of the Eastern Indigo!

By: Meaghan English

My name is Meaghan English, a wildlife specialist with TrueSouth. I graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Management and I have grown up with a passion for hunting. I knew from an early age that I was not only interested in the harvesting of wildlife, but I was also very interested in their biology and management. I decided that I not only wanted to be a wildlife enthusiast, I want to be an educated wildlife specialist. I will be using that grand education as the newest member of the TrueSouth team! I will be walking tracts of land with a fine tooth comb and providing clients with information regarding wildlife habitat and wildlife abundance collected from those tracts. My job is to inform the buyer of all the wildlife species he/she is inheriting! But first, let me tell you how my “buck fever” began.
My first hunting memory flashes back to when I was six or seven years old. Like any other Saturday during deer season, my dad had told my mom to get me ready because we were going hunting. Of course I was ecstatic! I was not ecstatic about the hair bow my mom made me wear with my camouflage (she wanted everyone to know I was in fact a fashionable girl). The entire way to Perdue Hill, Alabama, my dad told me that today would be the first day I would actually shoot my first deer and I knew I was ready. We pulled up to the camp, unloaded, and fed all the “camp cats”. Before we headed to our stand, I had spotted three kittens that I simply could not leave behind so I stuffed them in my jacket. After walking what seemed like five miles, we finally made it to the “Pressbox stand” (with my smuggled kittens) and sat down. Dad continuously pestered me to be quiet, but I wasn’t that worried about shooting a deer, I had kittens! Eventually, the sun began to sink behind the trees and a spike (without olfactory senses) entered the field. When it was safe to quietly move, dad handed me the gun and I handed him my three kittens. I slowly pulled the gun up and placed my cheek against the stock. Dad told me to breathe slowly and pull the trigger when I was ready. Sure enough, I pulled the trigger and the spike hit the ground. We high-fived, exchanged kittens again, and climbed down to see the kill. It certainly was not a wall hanger, but a huge chapter in my life was started that night. My dad and I still hunt together to this day and we practice quality deer management at all times.

My ultimate goal is to provide clients with a survey of flora and fauna that currently inhabit a specific tract of land and, if desired, how to properly manage that land for the species that are found there. All feedback is greatly appreciated and I look forward to working with you!

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