Two threatened Eastern indigo snakes hatched on July 10 and 11 at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
It marks the first time since 1997 that the threatened species has hatched at the zoo.
“We are very proud and excited to welcome such significant new additions to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens family. Six years ago, we acquired young snakes in hopes that they would be future parents. To finally have healthy hatchlings is extremely satisfying and lays the foundation for a successful, sustainable breeding program,” said Zoo’s Deputy Director for Animal Care & Conservation, Dan Maloney in an email to WJCT News.
The decline of rattlesnake and gopher tortoise populations is contributing to the rapid decline in Eastern indigo snakes, according to the zoo.
Eastern indigo snakes are a top predator and have a varied diet consisting of everything from small mammals, birds, and amphibians, all the way up to one of their favorite prey items, Eastern diamond rattlesnakes.
The two hatchlings emerged from their 4-inch eggs after a 100-day incubation. They are 13-inches long now but will quickly grow into the longest native snake species in the United States, according to the zoo.
They can reach a maximum length of 8 feet, 7.1 inches, according to the Orianne Society.
The zoo picked July 16, which is World Snake Day, to announce the zoo’s latest additions.
The mother of the two hatchlings can be viewed in the Wild Florida herpetology house. She shares her enclosure with a box turtle and a three-legged rescue Gopher tortoise.