Eastern Indigo Snake

Drymarchon corais couperi

A Long, Longleaf Icon

The eastern indigo snake, the longest nonvenomous snake in North America, is one of the most iconic species of the longleaf pine ecosystem. Their name comes from the purple iridescent color of its black scales in the sunlight. Due to habitat loss and fragmentation, it has become a rare sight in its range.

About the Species

This is a beautiful Florida native snake that is often associated with gopher tortoises because it will use their burrows as a home.

This is a non-venomous snake that uses its strong jaws to capture and kill its prey. Often called the "Emperor of the Forest", the eastern indigo snake has some of the largest home ranges of any snake - up to 200 acres! It used to be found throughout the southeastern United States, but has lost much of its habitat, mostly due to human influences such as habitat loss. Thankfully, the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is working to help save this important native species. The Zoo's Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation actively breeds eastern indigo snakes for research and reintroduction. Eastern indigo snakes have been released back into the wild in parts of southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle. Learn more about our work to save these amazing snakes here.

Words From the Experts


Eastern indigo snakes are ophiophagous, meaning they eat other snakes, including venomous species.


Did You Know?

Eastern indigo snakes lay soft-shelled eggs that have a rough surface.



Florida and Southeast Georgia


Varied areas of scrubs, sandhills, swamps and flatwoods


2.6 meters (about 8 feet)


other snakes (including venomous), birds, small mammals


Young snakes are preyed upon by many animals.

Natural Defenses

strong jaws


Females have ability to retain live sperm for up to four years.


Least Concern, Protected in the United States

Life Expectancy

unknown in the wild, but up to 25 years in human care

  • Saving Animals From Extinction
  • Culture Builds Florida
  • Florida Association of Zoos and Aquariums