Everyone knows my fear of snakes but there are two snakes that I've always admired.
The Coral snake and the Indigo snake.
Coral snakes are just so pretty that even a snake-o-phobe like myself can appreciate how beautiful they are.
The other snake that I have a fascination with is the Indigo.
The Eastern Indigo is the largest, non-venomous snake in North America with the longest on record being 9'2" long.
They were once common from the southern tip of South Carolina west to southeastern Mississippi and throughout Florida, including the Keys.
Today, their current range is restricted to southern Georgia and peninsular Florida, with a few isolated populations in the Florida panhandle and north Key Largo.
Indigos were federally protected as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1978, and they are also "protected as threatened" by the State of Florida, making it illegal to harass, harm, capture, keep, or kill them.
While we were out listening for frogs, I asked the biologist about Indigos on the Reservation.
He says there are a few living on the Reservation but that their location is "top secret" and he's not allowed to tell anyone where he's seen them.
Collectors have almost wiped out the population that lived on Eglin so now their whereabouts are kept secret.
I asked if he knew how many are actually here and he said no, that to track them they'd have to catch and tag them and the government doesn't want them messed with at all.
He did say "I can tell you that there aren't very many."
Then he tells me about his encounter with one last year.
He was walking through the woods and saw part of a snake shed. He poked around it and was surprised to see that it was new and fully intact.
Because it was so new he went looking for it's owner and just a few yards away came across a huge Indigo.
He said it was so black that it was almost purple and was absolutely beautiful.
After watching the snake for a while he went back to get the shed.
He told us how he rolled it up around a stick, like a parchment, and then brought it back to his office and stretched it out to measure.
And then framed it because this shed was 8' long!
That's a huge snake!
While I definitely think they are cool, I'm not sure I want to run into one in the woods.