South Georgia/Southern Alabama
This is an indigo snake you can visit at Zoo Atlanta. This snake is part of an amazing success story to reintroduce this important species back into the Conecuh National Forest in Alabama – a place it had not been seen since 1954.
Why do they need you?
Indigo snakes inhabit the delicately balanced longleaf pine ecosystem, which has been reduced to less than 10 percent of its historical size.
In addition to facing habitat loss and fragmentation, indigo snakes have also been persecuted and killed out of fear, despite being non-venomous and helping to control populations of venomous snakes like copperheads and rattlesnakes by eating them. Indigo snakes can also be harmed unintentionally when gopher tortoise burrows, which many animal species use for shelter, are “gassed” during rattlesnake roundup events.
While some people fear snakes, others admire the beautiful black scales of the eastern indigo, which can look iridescent in the sunlight. Historically, indigo snake populations have also been negatively impacted by collection for the pet trade.
How is Zoo Atlanta helping?
Zoo Atlanta works with multiple state, federal, zoo, non-governmental, and educational organizations as part of the Eastern Indigo Snake Reintroduction Committee. One of our primary roles is raising offspring for the release portion of the project. ]
Young snakes hatched at Central Florida Zoo’s Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation live here for one to two years, growing big enough to avoid most predators, before being released into protected habitat. Since 2010, over 150 eastern indigo snakes have been released into the Conecuh National Forest in southern Alabama, where they previously hadn’t been observed since 1954. Over 100 of these snakes were raised at Zoo Atlanta.
In 2020, the project achieved a significant milestone when biologists working in the Conecuh National Forest discovered a baby eastern indigo snake, confirming that individuals from managed breeding programs can not only survive, but thrive in the wild.
How can you help?
- Learn to respect (and not fear) snakes. Did you know that the average snake eats around 200 rodents a year? Snakes help control populations of animals that we see as pests, so we want to keep them around!
- Taking a road trip to Florida? There’s a good chance you’ll pass through eastern indigo snake territory! Pay close attention to speed limit and warning signs while driving in wooded areas. Eastern indigo snakes have large home ranges for their size and may need to cross roads to access hunting, breeding, or overwintering grounds.
- Never remove an animal from the wild unless you are trained to do so. If you’ve made an informed decision to bring a new pet into your home, only obtain animals from legal, ethical, and sustainable sources.
- Support legislation for sustainable development and habitat restoration.
- Speak out against rattlesnake roundups and the gassing of gopher tortoise burrows.
- Donate to help us continue supporting the Eastern Indigo Reintroduction Committee.
Assistant Curator of Herpetology
Robert Hill is Zoo Atlanta’s Assistant Curator of Herpetology and has worked on a number of reptile and amphibian research and conservation projects in the southeastern U.S. and abroad.Meet Robert
Beyond the Zoo
Learn more about Zoo Atlanta’s commitment to saving species.
The global decline of species and their habitats makes it clear that we need a multifaceted approach to conservation. Zoos are a critical component of this approach, with a responsibility to be a force that drives action.View the Report
Want to learn more?
Visit the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for more information on this project.Learn More