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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: Red Clay

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