Eastern Indigo Snake
Photo Credit: Dan Hipes
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Drymarchon corais couperi
Other Names: Blue Indigo Snake, Gopher Snake, or Bull Snake
Description: The Eastern Indigo Snake is a large nonpoisonous, stout bodied snake averaging six to seven feet in length. The largest individual recorded was eight-and-a-half-feet. The Indigo Snake is smooth scaled and uniform glossy blue-black throughout its body except for some reddish orange or cream color suffusion on its throat, cheeks and chin. This coloration varies with some individuals having distinct coloration and others with no coloration.
Smaller indigo snakes are easily mistaken for the common black racer. Close examination is required to tell them apart. The common black racer is a slender, fast moving snake. The indigo snake is a stout, slow-moving snake. A distinct difference between the indigo snake and the black racer is the anal plate which is entire on the indigo and divided on the black racer. Another snake that is sometimes mistaken for the indigo snake is the black pine snake. Black pine snakes inhabit some of the same geographic locations as the indigo, but are easily differentiated. Black pine snakes have keeled scales. The indigo snake has smooth scales.
Distribution: There are eight species in the genus Drymarchon worldwide. Two species occur in the continental
The historical range of the Eastern Indigo Snake was from the east coast of
Habitat: The habitats used by the indigo snake differ based on climactic conditions. In the extreme southern reaches of its range (
Ecology: Indigos are found in the lower coastal plain along with the burrowing gopher tortoise. They use the burrows not only for refuge, but also for breeding and reproduction. Breeding season occurs between October and February. A female that occupies a burrow and is ready to be bred will attract numerous males to the burrow. Once bred, the female will use burrows as egg deposition sites. The eggs are laid in clutches of nine eggs per clutch, hatching 90 to 120 days later. After hatching, the young snakes move to low wetland areas and feed on small lizards, frogs and toads. Adult snakes feed on small mammals, birds, and snakes, with a preference for snakes. The indigo snake is thought to be the main predator of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake and data has shown the rattlesnake to be a preferred food item. Adult indigo snakes will eat smaller juvenile indigo snakes.
Classification: The eastern indigo snake is classified federally as threatened and is protected. It is also protected in
Author: James Altiere, June 2005