Coluber corais Boie, 1827, America. Eight subspecies are recognized, and some workers believe that several separate species should be recognized.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Blacktail, cribo; Spanish: Cola sucia.
This very large colubrid may reach almost 10 ft (3 m) in length. It has large, shiny, slightly oblique dorsal scales. Its color varies geographically. D. c. couperi, of the southeastern United States, is jet black with a reddish throat. Tropical subspecies may be black, gray, brown, or yellow, sometimes with a sharply contrasting tail.
Ranges from the southeastern United States to northern Argentina.
In the southeastern United States, this species prefers environments with sandy soils, such as pine savanna and scrub. Tropi
cal populations occupy a wider range of habitats, from moist forest to savanna and thorn forest. The species is frequently found near water.
The indigo snake is diurnal, foraging actively over large areas.
A wide variety of prey are consumed, including other fishes, frogs, turtles, birds, and mammals. Other snakes appear to comprise a substantial proportion of the diet, including pitvipers. It does not constrict its prey but simply overpowers it.
The indigo snake is oviparous, with a clutch size of about four to 12. Hatchlings are large, sometimes over 2 ft (60 cm).
This species is not listed by the IUCN. However, in the southeastern United States, the eastern indigo snake (D. c. couperi) is listed as Threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; it is also listed by several states. The subspecies is highly prized in the pet trade, and illegal collecting continues to pose a threat. The species also is a frequent inhabitant of the burrows dug by gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus), as is the eastern diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus adamanteus). Rattlesnakes are collected in some regions for "rattlesnake round-ups" or for their skins, and collection often involves pouring gasoline down a tortoise burrow. That action can incidentally harm indigo snakes. Finally, this subspecies is strongly affected by the rapid residential and commercial development of its habitat in the southeastern United States.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Indigo snakes are highly valued as pets, especially D. c. couperi. Some individuals now are being produced through captive breeding. ♦
Was this article helpful?