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America's Largest Snake, with Amazing Video!

Updated on August 25, 2011

Eastern indigo snake

The southeastern United States has its share of snakes, including the largest in the nation. The indigo snake, Drymarchon corais couperi, grows to a length of over nine feet! Fortunately, this reptile is not only non-venomous, it’s also actually docile. The indigo is found throughout Florida, in southern parts of Georgia and Alabama, and in the extreme southeastern corner of Mississippi. The indigo snake, however, is extremely rare in Alabama and Mississippi, with most residing in Florida and the coastal plain of Georgia – where I live.

The indigo snake once had a much wider range, but the population has drastically declined, largely due to the destruction of their habitat. They often use underground burrows shared with the gopher tortoise or holes made by armadillos in the sandy soil of longleaf pine forests. According to the University of Georgia Herpetology Staff, 95% of this type of habitat has been destroyed. The indigo snake is listed as a threatened species in Georgia and Florida, and as an endangered species elsewhere in the U.S.

The snakes, members of the colubrid family, are a glossy iridescent bluish-black, with the belly the same color. On some individuals, reddish or rust-colored patches appear on the sides of the head. The indigo is slimmer and not as heavy as an eastern diamondback.

Indigo snakes seize and crush their prey with their powerful jaws and often use the weight of their coils, too, but they are not constrictors. The indigo hunts during the daylight hours, eating frogs, birds, small tortoises, and the eggs of other snakes and ground-nesting birds, along with small mammals. Their preferred meal is other snakes, including the venomous rattlesnake. It’s interesting to note that indigo snakes are immune to rattlesnake venom.

In the warmer months, indigo snakes prefer areas that are close to water, where they can feed on frogs, baby turtles, and water snakes. In the winter, the indigo moves to drier habitats, where they breed. Unlike most other snake species, the indigo remains fairly active in the colder months of the year. When a female is ready to breed, she is visited in her burrow by males. She lays clutches of nine eggs in the burrow, and they hatch three to four months later. The young indigo snakes instinctively travel to marshy wetlands where they can find small prey.

When threatened, the indigo snake often flattens its head, vibrates its tail, and hisses, but they seldom strike and rarely bite. Because of their docile nature, the snakes are popular as pets, even though owning them is illegal in many areas. The illegal pet trade is partially responsible for the indigo snake’s declining numbers. In some areas, a specimen will fetch $1,000.

Tied in closely with the survival of the indigo snake is the survival of two other threatened species, the gopher tortoise and the red-cockaded woodpecker. All three are dependent on the same type of habitat. Rattlesnake roundups are deadly for indigo snakes. When snake hunters gas gopher tortoise burrows in an effort to kill and capture rattlesnakes, indigo snakes are often unintended casualties.

I’ve never personally seen an indigo snake, although my husband has seen several. He sometimes works in a sandy area near the Alapaha River, where a few indigo snakes frequent large gopher tortoise holes. Although the longest eastern indigo snake recorded measured 9.2 feet, Johnny swears he’s seen one longer than that. This particular snake was crossing a paved road, and hubby claims the reptile stretched almost all the way across the narrow two-lane blacktop.

 

Eastern indigo snake
Eastern indigo snake

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    • profile image

      ralwus 6 years ago

      Wonderful creatures. I suppose if you did see one you'd run like hell and scream. My wife would. LOL

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      I can vouch for the sheer size of some indigo's. I was with your husband Johnny when we sighted one in the same area which stretched from the center line of the highway to the grass median. Easily nine feet long!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Nah, I wouldn't, Charlie! A rat or a roach - yes, but not one of these! I'd actually like to have a pet snake, but hubby is adamantly against it! I don't think I'd like feeding a snake, though. I'd feel too sorry for its prey.

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Randy, I was hoping you'd stop by! I almost called you. Johnny said he thought you were with him that day, and he was trying to estimate that snake's length.

      I'd like to link your rattlesnake hub to this one. Let me know. We're about to go to the hospital for the BABY!!!!

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 6 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Cool beans! Tell Melizard if she has puppies, I want one!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Okay, we'll save the runt for you - wouldn't want Allie to get jealous!

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      habee, WOW so cool, my 13 year old daughter will love seeing this when she gets home from school today. She has always loved snakes, when she was two she came up to me in the back holding and petting a snake, I about died, took a few years off my life, but she is still drawn to snakes... Who knows. Thanks and Peace :)

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 6 years ago

      Habee, even the videos scared me.

    • profile image

      ralwus 6 years ago

      Holle, they have little sausages for pet snakes so you do not need to feed them a live animal. All one does is drop the little sausage into some hot water for a bit and when it is warm tantalize you snaked with it and sit back and watch. If I can, I'll catch a Masauga Rattler here for you. They're little fellers that look like young black snakes with small nibs on the end of their tail. They have little tiny fangs.

    • kgnature profile image

      kgnature 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Great hub. Thanks.

    • Ultimate Hubber profile image

      Ultimate Hubber 6 years ago

      They look great, amazing creatures!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you, habee, but if I saw one I would brake all world records.

    • kowality profile image

      kowality 6 years ago from Everywhere

      Awesome hub Habee. I'm not a fan of the snake species but this was a cool hub to read. You're right, that video is impressive. I stopped by Randy's page to say hello, seeing that he is one of your friends.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 6 years ago

      Reading about snakes is OK for me, but looking at pictures? I zoomed by!

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 6 years ago from Virginia

      EEEK! I hate snakes! My skin crawls thinking about them but I wanted to read your hub, so I braved through it and learned a lot! great job, Habee!

    • billyaustindillon profile image

      billyaustindillon 6 years ago

      Great hub - snakes can be beautiful and scary all at the same time - if that makes any sense.

    • JenDobson27 profile image

      JenDobson27 6 years ago

      I absolutely can't stand snakes of any kind! Those were some pretty cool videos though.

    • entertianmentplus profile image

      entertianmentplus 6 years ago from United States

      Very good read though nit a big fan of snakes-Thanks

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 6 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      Great video. I am not a snake lover either. But the video was cool. i could not figure out why they have the charcole starter right there. Are they going to eat both snakes! lol

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      Habee, I hate snakes. Sorry, but I didn't watch the video but I am glad to know what they look like as I live in FL. I am happy to say I have never met one personally.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Terrifed of snakes so rushed over the images.

    • profile image

      9hussainA 6 years ago

      it is good

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 6 years ago from Holly, MI

      Great hub and FABulous video! I had a snake (Ball Python) for almost five years until he was just a little too big for me to handle and was better suited with someone else...lol (This is keyword for he got out of his house and I woke up to him on the floor of my bedroom and my cat at the time on top of the refrigerator). They are such remarkable creatures. The way they eat is just amazing! Well done!!

    • nancy_30 profile image

      nancy_30 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you for a very interesting hub. I don't mind snakes as long as they're not poisonous. I went to the local feed store, who also sells pets, a couple of days ago and got to see a snake eating a rat. It was really interesting. I was amazed at the size of the rat it was eating.

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Well, it could be worse, Katie! She could want a crocodile! lol

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Bpop, I didn't think you were scared of anything!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Charlie, but you can keep the rattler!

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 6 years ago from South Africa

      I really enjoyed reading this interesting Hub. Quite a snake, that!

      Lovce and peace

      Tony

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, KG!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      They really are, Ultimate hubber!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      HH, indigo snakes won't hurt you!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

      I have a fear of snake hehe, but it is endangered, am I happy about that, NO, besides Florida and Georgia are far from here, but then it will destabilize the ecosystem, Thanks habee, Maita

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Hi, JOhnny! You'll like Randy's hubs!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Funny, Sheila!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Ann, you are a true friend! lol

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Makes perfect sense to me, Billy AD!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Jen!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Entertainment, thanks for reading!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Granny - mmmm...grilled fillet of serpent! lol

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

      Okay - shut my eyes and I'm not going to look at those....I scrolled so fast I almost fell off the chair. I'm sure you had many words of wisdom to impart but I can't look! I know they are part of life - I just hate to admit that they freak me out!!!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Pam and Ethel, these guys are harmless! They even kill rattlesnakes!

    • habee profile image
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      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Hussain!

      Herbi, that sounds cool! Snakes are so mysterious...

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Yes, Nancy, if it weren't for snakes, we'd be overrun with rats!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Tony, bet you have some huge serpents in your neck of the woods!

      Howdy, Maita!

    • habee profile image
      Author

      Holle Abee 6 years ago from Georgia

      Audrey, these are GOOD snakes that kill and eat venomous snakes!

    • profile image

      shaber 5 years ago

      sweet

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