For most snake lovers, the opportunity to see an Eastern Indigo Snake in the wild is a lifelong dream. On the weekend of December 14-15, 2013 we hosted “Indigo Days” for members of The Orianne Society in an effort to help make that dream a reality and as an opportunity to say thank you to our valuable members who support our mission.
While December may not seem like the best time of year to go looking for snakes, it is actually the best time to get a glimpse of an Eastern Indigo. Unlike most snakes, which hibernate during the winter, Eastern Indigo Snakes remain active, and even breed this time of year. Unfortunately for us, the weather did not cooperate, and we had to work with cool temperatures (for south Georgia) and overcast skies.
On day one we managed to find a total of four Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes and the shed skin from a large Eastern Indigo Snake. Three of the Eastern Diamondbacks were found at the very bottom of Gopher Tortoise burrows using our Gopher Tortoise camera (a camera attached to a 25-30 foot hose), while the other one was coiled on the surface right at the mouth of a tortoise burrow.
That afternoon we gathered together to process the rattlesnake as well as two wild Eastern Indigos that where captured earlier in the week. Processing includes measuring, weighing, determining sex, and marking using a P.I.T. tag (the same microchips used by vets for cats and dogs) for future identification.
First up, we processed the Eastern Indigo Snakes. While the female was rather small, the male, which measured 7 feet in total length, brought oohs and aahs from the attendees. After that, Orianne scientist Dr. Stephen Spear restrained the hefty 4 ½ foot rattlesnake in a sturdy plastic tube. This gave all the participants the opportunity to view this magnificent animal up close, without the risk of being bitten.
Day two started off with a photo shoot while releasing the rattlesnake at its point of capture. After that, we continued our snake hunt. Two more rattlesnakes were found, both just inside the entrance of Gopher Tortoise burrows, as well as one shed skin from a rattlesnake. One Eastern Indigo was also found, the only one of the weekend, at the bottom of a burrow using the burrow camera.
While we were not able to find and an Indigo Snake on the surface, we still made the best of a weekend of poor weather. It is hard to complain about documenting 6 Eastern Diamondbacks and 1 Eastern Indigo Snake. Keep your eyes out for more Eastern Indigo Snake events for Orianne Society members and we’ll do our best to make the dream of seeing one (or more) of these beautiful snakes in the wild come true for our supporting members!