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Eastern Indigo Snake Conservation Program

The Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation (OCIC) is operated by the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens and is the only captive breeding facility for the Eastern Indigo Snake with the sole purpose of releasing the offspring into regions where the population has been extirpated. The OCIC’s mission is to re-establish this threatened species into its former range. Snakes hatched at the OCIC are reintroduced in regions where historic populations have disappeared. To accomplish this, partnerships with nonprofit organizations and regulatory agencies combine both expertise and resources to reach program goals.

The Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi) is listed as a threatened species throughout its range in the Southeast Coastal Plain. This species is America’s longest snake and is now only found in southern Georgia and peninsular Florida. Increasing population pressures include habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, and the decline of Gopher Tortoise communities.

A critical factor for Eastern indigo snakes is the opportunity to thermoregulate. The OCIC’s outdoor habitats allow the snakes an opportunity to experience seasonal weather changes and temperature cycles which are key to long-term reproductive success.  Each outdoor habitat is designed with an underground bunker that simulates a Gopher Tortoise burrow. In the summer these “dens” provide cool retreats from the mid-day sun, and during cold winter months, the dens maintain a warmer temperature by being in the ground. In addition to matching the thermal conditions found inside a Gopher Tortoise burrow, the snakes also have the ability to bask in the sun and receive the benefits of ultraviolet radiation.

Between 2010 and 2019, 169 Eastern indigo snakes have been released in the Conecuh National Forest in southern Alabama. Between 2017 and 2019, 47 Eastern indigo snakes have been released in The Nature Conservancy’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve in the Florida Panhandle.

This long term reintroduction program is part of a multi-partner effort including US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ALDCNR), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation, Orianne Society, Auburn University, The Nature Conservancy, US Forest Service, Zoo Atlanta, Welaka National Fish Hatchery, Zoo Tampa, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Alabama Natural Heritage Museum, and others.

The reintroduction efforts for the Eastern Indigo Snake are only the beginning of building a healthy sustainable population. With the continuous help and support from our partners, foundations, and donors, the Eastern Indigo Snake is on its way to becoming a thriving species in the southern U.S. and will continue to play a vital role in our ecosystem.

What Your Donation Can Provide

$25 helps us monitor fertility and reproductive health in our breeding animals so that we can provide the healthiest offspring for release into the wild.

A $50 donation will allow us to increase the number of offspring for release into the wild.

A gift of $100 supports monitoring the growth and health of our juveniles as they are reared for wild release.

Help us monitor the Eastern indigo’s survival in the wild with a contribution of $250.

Your gift, in the amount of your choosing, will have an immediate impact on the programs offered at the OCIC to teach conservation and an appreciation of Florida’s natural wildlife, while promoting public education and tolerance of snakes in our communities.

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