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Reptile and Amphibian Conservation

Project Orianne - The Indigo Snake Initiative

Eastern indigos are North Americas longest snake, reaching more than 8 feet. Adults can be as thick as two fists and weigh upward of 10 pounds. Their color is a striking glossy or bluish black. Their home ranges cover thousands of acres. Their diet is expansive, encompassing almost anything smaller that can be swallowed live, even rattlesnakes.

Federally listed as threatened in 1978, Drymarchon couperi has seen its historic range from South Georgia to the Florida Keys and southwestern Alabama shredded by habitat loss and fragmentation. Populations dwindled as the non-venomous snakes were run over by cars, killed by people and gassed in gopher tortoise burrows, an illegal practice tied to rattlesnake roundups.

Project Orianne: The Indigo Snake Initiative began about two years ago after a member of the projects founding family held an indigo and, moved by the experience, asked her father to save the snake. The result is a growing organization with a simple but far-reaching goal: Conserve eastern indigos and their habitats across the snakes range.

Considered to be one of the largest snake-focused conservation efforts in the world, the project translates into conserving habitat through acquisitions and easements, and establishing programs for land management and restoration, captive breeding and propagation, and for snake inventory and monitoring. Project Orianne will also conduct and support research, including with the universities of Florida and Georgia.

The initiative has bought 900 acres of indigo habitat in Telfair County and is developing computer models with the University of Massachusetts to guide conservation practices such as prescribed fire in Georgia's Altamaha River basin. The organization is also teaming with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division and other agencies and nonprofits across the region.

Additional Information:

The Orianne Society:  The Indigo Snake Initiative

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