HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Slithering into a shallow pond in the brush country of the Rio Grande Valley, this six-foot Texas Indigo glistens in the late afternoon light.
The Indigo is the longest native snake in the United States and can exceed eight feet in length. The name derives from glossy, blackish-purple scales, which shimmer with striking iridescence in bright light but fade to satiny black in shadows.
At home on land, in the water, or climbing trees, the nonvenomous Indigo is primarily diurnal and will eat just about anything such as mice, birds, lizards frogs, and other snakes. The Texas Indigo even has a reputation for relishing rattlesnakes and is a respected resident around farms and ranches.
Indigos are listed by the state as a threatened species, primarily due to habitat destruction, and because of their protected status cannot be harmed or captured.
As this impressive specimen emerges from the pond, a pair of scaled quail nervously appraises the snake while keeping a safe distance.
The Curve-billed thrasher however is quite bold, flaring its wings in alarm. Not satisfied with simply alerting all to the snake’s presence, the dashing thrasher repeatedly pecks at the Indigo’s tail, but to no avail.
Finally, the Indigo exits the pond, and the fearless thrasher continues to pester the departing snake with aggressive pecks at the vanishing tail.
Another large nonvenomous snake inhabiting the brush country is the Bullsnake. This heavy-bodied snake sports handsome scales of beige to light brown interspersed with dark flecks, and rarely exceeds five feet.
Like the Indigo, this beautiful snake is very beneficial as an efficient predator of mice and rats.
One of the best places to see an Indigo or Bullsnake is at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, just be sure and watch your step as there are also some very impressive Diamondback rattlesnakes.