A rare Eastern indigo snake was found in Alabama – only the second time in over 60 years

The discovery of wild-born Eastern indigo snake definitively proves that protection policies in Alabama are actually work. On Thursday the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division announced the news on Facebook.

The main threats the Eastern indigo snake faces are habitat destruction, fragmentation, and degradation. Indigo snakes lose more than 5% of their habitat each year in Florida. As a species that often occupies gopher tortoise burrows, indigo snakes face being injured by people hunting for rattlesnakes in the burrows. Other threats include pollution, collisions with vehicles, and the pet trade, along with intentional killings.

Back in 2006, a team of local conservationists started a project to reintroduce the Eastern indigo snake to Alabama. The goal of the program is to have a total number of 300 snakes for a healthy and viable population in Alabama. According to the state environmental department, the first wild-born snake was discovered in Alabama in 2020.

Flagships of the program was wild-captured individuals from Georgia, and were used to breed a captive population. In 2010, the first snakes from the programme were released into Conecuh National Forest. The discovery of Eastern indigo snake in 2022 is an excellent indicator for the species’ success in Alabama. Jim Godwin, an animal biologist with the Alabama Natural Heritage Program, explained in an interview to CNN about details of this breaking news. Both snakes were actually found by accident.

It’s difficult to just go out and do a search for them, because they’re small, and they can hide very easily.

Jim Godwin
Alabama Natural Heritage Program

The snake discovered was identified as wild-born due to its small size and lack of a tracking tag. Each snake from the captive population has a PIT tag, which includes a small microchip so researchers can identify them by unique codes. The little snake was much smaller than those released from captivity. Adult snakes can reach lengths of up to eight feet long.

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