The Eastern indigo snake is a large, non-venomous snake native to the eastern United States. It is the longest native snake species in the U.S. These snakes have uniform blue-black dorsal and lateral scales, with some specimens having a reddish-orange to tan color on the throat, cheeks, and chin. They received their common name from the glossy iridescent ventral scales which can be seen as blackish-purple in bright light. Unlike many snakes, mature male indigo snakes are slightly larger than females.
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
A carnivore meaning 'meat eater' is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of a...
A piscivore is a carnivorous animal that eats primarily fish. Piscivorous is equivalent to the Greek-derived word ichthyophagous. Fish were the die...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Precocial species are those in which the young are relatively mature and mobile from the moment of birth or hatching. Precocial species are normall...
Oviparous animals are female animals that lay their eggs, with little or no other embryonic development within the mother. This is the reproductive...
A burrow is a hole or tunnel excavated into the ground by an animal to create a space suitable for habitation, temporary refuge, or as a byproduct ...
Polygynandry is a mating system in which both males and females have multiple mating partners during a breeding season.
Hibernation is a state of minimal activity and metabolic depression undergone by some animal species. Hibernation is a seasonal heterothermy charac...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Eastern indigo snakes range from extreme southwestern South Carolina south through Florida and west to southern Alabama and southeastern Mississippi. They inhabit flatwoods, hammocks, dry glades, stream bottoms, cane fields, riparian thickets, and high ground with well-drained, sandy soils. In Georgia, Eastern indigo snakes prefer excessively drained, deep sandy soils along major streams, as well as xeric sandridge habitats. From December to April, Eastern indigo snakes prefer sandhill habitats; from May to July they shift from winter dens to summer territories; from August through November they are located more frequently in shady creek bottoms than during other seasons.
Eastern indigo snakes are solitary and diurnal creatures. Because the cover requirements of these snakes change seasonally, they maintain corridors that link these different habitats. From the spring through fall snakes must be able to travel from sandhill communities and upland pine-hardwood communities to creek bottoms and agricultural fields. In winter, they den in gopher tortoise burrows, which are usually found in open pine forests with dense herbaceous understories. Eastern indigo snakes may even cohabit with gopher tortoises in their burrows, although snakes will settle for armadillo holes, hollow logs, and debris piles when gopher tortoise burrows can't be found. Burrows need to be in areas where there is no flooding. Eastern indigo snakes heavily use debris piles left from site-preparation operations on tree plantations. These piles are often destroyed for cosmetic reasons but should be left intact because they provide important hiding cover for both the snake and its prey. Summer home ranges for indigo snakes can be as large as 273 acres (110 hectares). As defensive behavior, Eastern indigo snakes vertically flatten their neck, hiss, and vibrate their tail. If picked up, they seldom bite.
Eastern indigo snakes are carnivorous, like all snakes, and will eat any other small animal they can overpower. They eat turtles, lizards, frogs, toads, a variety of small birds and mammals, and eggs. Their diet also includes other snakes (ophiophagy), including venomous ones, as indigo snakes are immune to the venom of the North American rattlesnakes.
Eastern indigo snakes are polygynandrous (promiscuous) and both males and females mate with multiple partners during the breeding season. According to most researches in northern Florida, these snakes breed from November to April. Females lay up to 12 eggs Females deposit between May and June usually in abandoned burrows or fallen logs. Incubation period lasts around 3 months. Snakelets are completely independent at hatching and grow rapidly. They reach reproductive maturity between 3 and 4 years of age.
Eastern indigo snakes are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation and collecting for the pet trade. They also suffer from "gassing" of tortoise burrows. As these snakes often cohabit with gopher tortoises in their burrows, hunters, hoping to flush out rattlesnakes, often wind up accidentally killing indigo snakes when they illegally pour gasoline into the burrows of gopher tortoises.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Eastern indigo snake total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List but its numbers today are decreasing.
Eastern indigo snakes are useful in their ecosystem because due to their diet habits they help control populations of rodents and other snakes, including venomous snakes.