Eastern Indigo Snake

Drymarchon couperi (State Status: SX; presumed extirpated)


The Eastern Indigo Snake is the largest native snake in North America reaching and exceeding lengths of 8 feet (USFWS). They are nonvenomous and actively catch and crush prey with their jaws (Behler & King, 1979). Indigo snakes are long and thick-bodied, with dark, glossy scales that can be black, brownish, purplish, or reddish. This snake is considered extirpated (extinct from a specific area) from Mississippi, with the last confirmed specimen found nearly a century ago (MMNS). Many people mistake racers and Black Pinesnakes for Indigo Snakes, despite both being much smaller in adulthood, and differing in appearance upon closer examination.

Young Eastern Indigo Snake, South Florida, © Bryce Anderson

Identifying Traits

  • Extremely large, dark snake (indigo or brown with black) and smooth scales
  • Occasional red tint near head
  • Head shape and scale orientation are key characters


Pine savanna, open sandy habitats​, palmetto stands


Active diurnally, uses gopher tortoise burrows for shelter, may hiss when encountered


Various frogs, lizards, small mammals, other snakes

Closeup of head and scales, South Florida, © Bryce Anderson
Indigo Snake with habitat in background, South Florida, © Bryce Anderson