Dozens of snakes released in Florida in effort to boost their population

Eastern indigo snakes have experienced a loss in habitats across the Southeast and is a threatened species by the Federal Endangered Species Act. Biologists said 2024 is the eighth year of the program, and 167 snakes have been released in the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida wildlife experts recently released dozens of eastern indigo snakes into the wild with the hopes of restoring native ecosystems.

The Nature Conservancy, in coordination with several groups, took part in the release that happened in conservation lands along the Apalachicola River in the Florida Panhandle.

The eastern indigo snakes are designated as a threatened species and is the longest native snake in North America, growing up to eight feet long.

Biologists say the species disappeared from large stretches of the Southeast in the 1980s but could be on the verge of turning the corner with recent conservation efforts.

"With increasing numbers of snakes released over time and successful reproduction, the indigo is gaining momentum to return to the landscape where it belongs," Michele Elmore, a biologist at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement.

The 41 snakes were bred and raised for two years at a facility operated by the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens.


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates that the bluish-black-colored snake loses more than 5% of its habitat every year due to various causes, including fragmentation, where a road or other development splits its territory.

The snakes released into the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve are just a few years away from being able to reproduce and could live longer than 20 years.

According to biologists, they are not dangerous to people or pets and have a diet that consists of small animals, including other snakes.

"This project continues to be one of the gold standard conservation projects in Florida, and we are grateful for the many partnerships that contribute to our mission, values and shared goals," Brad O’Hanlon, a reptile and amphibian conservation coordinator at the FWC, stated.


The Nature Conservancy group says during the past year several snakes from previous releases have been spotted, including two wild-born hatchlings from released offspring.

"With the recent news of the indigo hatchling discovery at ABRP, we can see that our combined efforts are paving the way toward the ultimate goal of a self-sustaining wild indigo population," Dr. James Bogan Jr., the director of Central Florida Zoo’s Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation, stated.

Researchers conduct surveys on foot and with the help of trail cameras located near burrows and other high-traveled areas.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says it plans to reintroduce 600 snakes in Alabama and Florida as part of the restoration program.