Health and nutritional assessment of free-ranging eastern indigo snakes (Drymarchon couperi) in Georgia, United States

S. Emmanuelle Knafo, Terry M. Norton, Mark Mitchell, Dirk J. Stevenson, Natalie Hyslop, Robert H Poppenga, Marcie Oliva, Tai Chen, Carolyn Cray, Samantha E J Gibbs, Lance Durden, Nancy Stedman, Stephen Divers, Ellen Dierenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Clinical pathology and nutritional parameters are useful in evaluating and monitoring threatened and endangered wildlife populations, but reference ranges for most snake species are lacking. From 2001 to 2005, health assessments were performed on 58 eastern indigo snakes (EIS) (Drymarchon couperi) captured in the wild in southeastern Georgia, United States. Health and nutritional assessments performed included hematology, serum biochemistry, fat-soluble vitamins, heavy metals, pesticide contaminants, parasitology, and surveys of other pathogens. Significant differences in total solids, packed cell volume, glucose, blood urea nitrogen, albumin:globulin ratio, amylase, triglycerides, and bile acids between males and females were observed. Additionally, there was a significant difference between liver and kidney concentrations for vitamins A and E. As previously noted in captive EIS, total Ca was elevated in comparison to concentrations reported in other snake species. Parasitism was a common finding in sampled EIS, but the overall health status of this free-ranging population appeared good. A winter-time dermatitis was found in most snakes, which resolved in the summer months. This study represents the first health and nutritional assessment of free-ranging EIS, and provides needed data to guide monitoring and conservation efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1000-1012
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Clinical pathology
  • Drymarchon couperi
  • Eastern indigo snake
  • Georgia
  • Health assessment
  • Wildlife health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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