Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

Rare Summer Sighting of Eastern Indigo Snake

July 6, 2022

SCCF biologists measured and marked an Eastern indigo snake (Drymarchon couperi) in June on an island in Pine Island Sound as part of the SCCF Pine Island Sound Eastern Indigo Snake Project. Sightings of this threatened species during the warm months are uncommon due to the intense heat which affects their daily movements and preferred habitats.

Pictured here, SCCF Wildlife & Habitat Management Program biologists Peyton Niebanck, Chris Lechowicz, and Mike Mills responded to a rare sighting of the diminishing Eastern indigo snake in Pine Island Sound.

We receive very few reports at this time of year due to their preference for wet and shady areas due to extreme heat. Activity times over the summer tend to be very early in the day or late in the early evening.

The breeding season of the Eastern indigo snake in Southwest Florida begins around Thanksgiving with the first cold fronts of the season and diminishes around Valentine’s Day. Peak breeding activity, resulting in increased movements and public visibility, generally takes place in the early part of the season.

Most of our data from captures are collected from November through March when these snakes are looking for mates.

Captured indigo snakes, as part of this research, are measured, weighed, sexed, and microchipped, and a sample is taken for a genetic study. This sample doubles as a second method of identification using a standard numbering system.

Eastern indigo snakes are considered extirpated on Sanibel since the last verified individual was documented in February 1999. However, there are extant populations on nearby islands facing the same pressures that resulted in their extirpation on Sanibel.

If you see and photograph what you believe is an eastern indigo snake in Lee County, please email SCCF Wildlife & Habitat Management Director Chris Lechowicz at




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