Drymarchon corais © Fiona Sunquist
The eastern indigo snake is the largest snake in North America. This black, iridescent snake has a red or whitish throat, smooth scales and may grow to a maximum length of 8 feet (2.4 m). The indigo snake is often confused with the black racer, which is a much smaller, slender snake, rarely reaching 4 feet in length.
Indigo snakes feed on vertebrates, including fish, frogs, toads, lizards, snakes, birds and small mammals. They are diurnal hunters and travel long distances in a day actively search for prey. Prey is swallowed whole and alive.
The indigo snake is most often found in high, dry, pine sandhills, the same habitat used by the gopher tortoise. The species is believed to have tropical origins and manages to survive in temperate areas by using gopher tortoise burrows as a refuge to avoid the extreme periods of winter cold.
Eastern Indigo snakes are federally protected as threatened under the Endangered Species Act; they are also protected as threatened by the State of Florida. Their numbers have declined because of habitat loss, persecution, and over-collecting for the pet trade. This large, beautiful, non-venomous snake has a docile nature, and is much in demand by collectors.
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