A rare Eastern indigo snake was found in Alabama. Only the second time in over than 60 years.

The discovery of wild-born Eastern indigo snake first of all 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 pollutants, vehicle strikes, captures for domestication, and intentional killings.

In 2006, a team of Alabama conservationists launched a project to reintroduce the Eastern indigo snake to the state. The goal of the program is to introduce a total of 300 snakes to create a healthy and viable population in Alabama. The first wild-born Eastern indigo snake was discovered in Alabama in 2020, according to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Flagships of the program was wild-captured individuals from Georgia. Scientists began to breed a captive population. In 2010, the first snakes from the captive population were released into Conecuh National Forest. The discovery of Eastern indigo snake in 2022 is an excellent indicator for the species’ success in Alabama. 

Comments from Jim Godwin, an animal biologist  

Jim Godwin, an animal biologist with the Alabama Natural Heritage Program administered by the Auburn University Museum of Natural History in interview to CNN told about details of this breaking news. The first wild-born Eastern indigo snake was discovered in Alabama in 2020, according to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. 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 clearly wild-born due to two factors: its small size and its lack of a PIT (or passive integrated transponder) 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 hatchling was clearly smaller than those released from captivity, which were usually at least two feet long; the snakes can grow up to eight feet long in adulthood.

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