The Serpent’s Lair

In the face of extreme habitat loss, wildlife biologist Dr. Chris Jenkins puts an ambitious plan in motion to save two uniquely American reptiles — the eastern indigo snake and the gopher tortoise — and the longleaf pine forest they call home.

The two threatened species are as important to their ecosystems as they are interconnected themselves. The eastern indigo snake is a prolific hunter that manages predator populations in the southeastern United States. In the northern part of its range, the snakes — along with more than 350 other species — rely on the deep burrows that the gopher tortoise creates to survive freezing temperatures every winter.