Barbados threadsnake

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Barbados thread snake
Leptotyphlops carlae.jpg
An adult Barbados threadsnake on an American quarter dollar
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Leptotyphlopidae
Genus: Leptotyphlops
Species: L. carlae
Binomial name
Leptotyphlops carlae
Hedges, 2008[1]
  • Leptotyphlops carlae
    Hedges, 2008
  • Tetracheilostoma carlae
    Adalsteinsson et al., 2009
  • Leptotyphlops carlae
    Lillywhite, 2014
  • Tetracheilostoma carlae
    Wallach et al., 2014

The Barbados threadsnake (Leptotyphlops carlae) is a species of threadsnake. It is the smallest known snake species.[1] This member of the Leptotyphlopidae family is found on the Caribbean island of Barbados. It has been reported to be on the islands of Antigua and Barbuda.[citation needed]

The snake was first identified as a separate species in 2008 by S. Blair Hedges, a herpetologist from Pennsylvania State University.[3] Hedges named the new species of snake in honor of his wife, Carla Ann Hass, a herpetologist who was part of the discovery team.[4][5] Specimens already existed in reference collections in the London Natural History Museum and in a museum in California, but they had been incorrectly identified to belong to another species.[1]

At the time of publication, August 2008, L. carlae was described as the snake species with the smallest adults in the world.[6][7] The first scientific specimens taken by the research team were found under rocks in a forest. The snake is thought to be near the lower size limit for snakes, as young snakes need to attain a certain minimum size to find suitable food.[7]


Leptotyphlops carlae

The average length of Leptotyphlops carlae adults is approximately 10 cm, (3.94 inches), with the largest specimen found to date measuring 10.4 cm (4.09 inches).[1] The snakes are said by Hedges to be "about as wide as a spaghetti noodle.[3] The photograph above shows L. carlae on a quarter dollar, a coin with a diameter of 24.26 mm (0.955 inches).

L. carlae is thought to feed primarily on a diet of termites and ant larvae.[7] Threadsnakes are oviparous, laying eggs to reproduce. The female of this snake species produces only one large egg at a time. The emerging offspring is about half the length of the mother.[7]

The size of mother-to-offspring of large species of snakes (left) compared to small species such as L. carlae (right).

Small species of snake such as L. carlae have relatively large new-born offspring compared to adults. The offspring of the largest snakes are only one-tenth the length of an adult, whereas offspring of the smallest snakes typically are one-half the length of an adult (see figure below). The tiny snakes produce only one, massive egg—relative to the size of the mother.

Conservation status[edit]

Little is known about the ecology, abundance, or distribution of this species.[1] Essentially, Barbados has no original forest remaining, however, this native species very likely requires a forest habitat for survival since it evolved in the presence of forests.[1] Based on the small number of known specimens and its distribution apparently being restricted to eastern Barbados, the continued survival of the species is a concern.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hedges, S. Blair (August 4, 2008). "At the lower size limit in snakes: two new species of threadsnakes (Squamata: Leptotyphlopidae: Leptotyphlops) from the Lesser Antilles" (PDF). Zootaxa. 1841: 1–30. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  2. ^ "Tetracheilostoma carlae ". The Reptile Database.
  3. ^ a b Dunham, Will. Reuters UK (3 August 2008). (See: ¶ 5)"World's smallest snake is as thin as spaghetti". Archived from the original on September 2, 2008. Retrieved August 4, 2008. 
  4. ^ Turner, Alice (August 3, 2008). "World's Smallest Snake Discovered on the Caribbean Island of Barbados". eFluxMedia. Archived from the original on 6 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  5. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Leptotyphlops carlae, p. 48).
  6. ^ Brahic, Catherine (August 3, 2008). "World's smallest snake discovered". New Scientist. Archived from the original on 1 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-03. 
  7. ^ a b c d Kennedy, Barbara K. "World's smallest snake found in Barbados". Penn State University. Archived from the original on 5 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-03. 

External links[edit]