SANFORD, Fla. -- Wildlife experts in Central Florida are tracking creatures who don’t exactly leave a foot print -- the eastern indigo snake.

  • Experts breeding, tracking eastern indigo snakes
  • Officials say they're seeing fewer and fewer of them
  • They're telling residents not to kill them

“These guys (eastern indigo snakes) live in Florida and now need our help,” said Central Florida Zoo Public Relations Specialist Stephanie Kettle.

That’s why Sanford’s Central Florida Zoo teamed up with a half dozen other conservation organizations throughout the state -- including The Nature Conservancy, Auburn University and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission -- to breed 20 Eastern Indigo snakes to study and track as they were released in the Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve.

“They want the same habitat that we want, and building and construction has led to the degradation in their habitats,” Kettle explained.

Over the years, fewer and fewer of them have been spotted throughout their native areas in Florida, including Central Florida, because of loss of habitat.

Humans are either intentionally or unintentionally killing the indigo snakes.

Although the snakes do bite, they are not venomous, and eastern indigo snakes actually eat venomous, potentially dangerous snakes like rattle snakes.

“If you keep them around, the venomous snakes are so much less likely to show up,” Kettle said.

During the hot summer days, you actually may see more eastern indigo snake out and about in your yard because they are seeking shade. The important thing to know is that they are actually good for your yard, and killing one of them could come with a costly consequence.

Anyone caught illegally interfering with one of these protected animals can face up to $50,000 fine from the FWC.

To continue contributing to their populations the organizations plan on releasing more eastern indigo snakes into the same area in Central Florida during Summer 2019.