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Colubrids: Colubridae - Indigo Snake (drymarchon Corais): Species Accounts

snakes united accessed reptiles

Physical characteristics: The indigo snakes that live in the southeastern United States are shiny black or bluish-black with a reddish throat. In tropical areas, their colors range from black to brown, gray, or yellow. Sometimes, the tail is a different color from the rest of the body. The longest snake in the United States, adults can reach nearly 10 feet (3 meters) long.

Although it lives mainly on land, the indigo snake often prefers areas near a water source. (©Joseph T. Collins/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Geographic range: This snake lives from the southeastern United States south to northern Argentina in South America.

Habitat: Although it lives mainly on land, this snake often prefers areas near a water source, and it will dip into the water to chase prey. In the United States it tends to live in grasslands and shrubby spots with sandy soil, but it also may make its home in moist forests.

Diet: The indigo snake eats a variety of animals, including fishes and frogs, turtles, birds, mammals, and other snakes, including pit vipers.

Behavior and reproduction: Active during the day, this large snake spends much of its time searching for prey, which it bites at and swallows using its strength and size. Females lay about four to twelve eggs at a time. When the eggs hatch, the young snakes may be 2 feet (61 centimeters) long or more.

Indigo snakes and people: People often collect this usually gentle snake for the pet trade.

Conservation status: Although the IUCN does not consider the indigo snake to be threatened, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists it as Threatened in the United States. This large snake is popular in the pet trade. Its habitat is shrinking as people build in these areas. ∎



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Web sites:

"Eastern Garter Snake." Iowa Herpetology. http://www.herpnet.net/Iowa-Herpetology/reptiles/snakes/e.garter_snake.html (accessed on September 9, 2004).

"Eastern Hognose Snake." Iowa Herpetology. http://www.herpnet.net/Iowa-Herpetology/reptiles/snakes/e.hognose_snake.htm (accessed on September 9, 2004).

"Eastern Indigo Snake." University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. http://www.uga.edu/srel/eastern_indigo_snake.htm (accessed on September 1, 2004).

"Milk Snake." Iowa Herpetology. http://www.herpnet.net/Iowa-Herpetology/reptiles/snakes/eastern_milksnake.html (accessed on September 9, 2004).

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