Today is World Snake Day!
Our slithery friends often get a bad rep. Known in folklore as evil or devious, snakes actually play really important roles in our ecosystems and most of Florida’s native snakes are non-venomous. Florida is home to a whopping 46 native snake species!
The federally-threatened eastern indigo snake is a large, non-venomous snake that is native throughout Florida. They are known to eat other snakes, as well as birds, lizards, and small mammals. As they are mostly immune to rattlesnake venom, indigo snake can help control populations of those venomous species. In spring and summer, indigo move to wetlands and in winter they live in Florida’s sandhills. Indigo use gopher tortoise burrows to nest and retreat from cold temperatures.
Indigo snake live in pine flatwoods, hardwood forests, moist hammocks, and cypress swamps around the state. But, their habitat is in danger. With the loss of longleaf pine ecosystems and much of the Lake Wales Ridge, indigo snake have greatly declined. The loss of gopher tortoise habitat and the burrows they create puts many Florida reptile, amphibian, and mammal species in danger, including eastern indigo snake. The eastern Indigo snake is a keystone species in these threatened ecosystems; by conserving this species we are in turn conserving red-cockaded woodpeckers, black bears, gopher tortoise, and the incredible diversity of species that reside within longleaf pine-wiregrass and sandhill ecosystems.
Native wildlife are adapted to fit a specific niche in their ecosystems. Non-native species throw that natural equilibrium out of balance. Burmese python, for example, are destroying Florida’s complex ecosystems. They consume rabbits, raccoon, and even small deer, decimating populations of some of Florida’s most endearing native species. To continue to eradicate this threat in South Florida and prevent python from moving to more northern Florida habitats, as well as restore corridors for native snake species, like the eastern indigo snake, land management must be fully funded.
How can you help save natural Florida? Help us stress the urgency and importance of land conservation and management to the Florida Legislature. When you buy a copy of our Gems Report, another copy goes to the desks of state lawmakers. Our beautiful photos and vivid descriptions paint a picture of Florida and its one-of-a-kind species – like eastern indigo snakes – and the daunting threats that our natural lands face. Contribute to conservation by purchasing your Gems Report today.