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Western blind snake, Rena humilis
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Infraorder: Scolecophidia
Family: Leptotyphlopidae
Stejneger, 1892



The Leptotyphlopidae (commonly called slender blind snakes or thread snakes[2]) are a family of snakes found in North America, South America, Africa and Asia. All are fossorial and adapted to burrowing, feeding on ants and termites. Two subfamilies are recognized.[2]


Texas blind snake (Rena dulcis) on a hand

Relatively small snakes, leptotyphlopids rarely exceed 30 cm (12 in) in length; only Trilepida macrolepis and Leptotyphlops occidentalis grow larger. The cranium and upper jaws are immobile and no teeth are in the upper jaw. The lower jaw consists of a much elongated quadrate bone, a tiny compound bone, and a relatively larger dentary bone.[3] The body is cylindrical with a blunt head and a short tail. The scales are highly polished. The pheromones they produce protect them from attack by termites.[4] Among these snakes is what is believed to be the world's smallest: L. carlae (Hedges, 2008).[5]

Geographic range[edit]

Leptotyphlopids are found in Africa, western Asia from Turkey to eastern India, on Socotra Island, and from the southwestern United States south through Mexico and Central America to South America, though not in the high Andes. In Pacific South America, they occur as far south as southern coastal Peru, and on the Atlantic side as far as Uruguay and Argentina. In the Caribbean, they are found on the Bahamas, Hispaniola, and the Lesser Antilles.[1]


Leptotyphlopids occur in a wide variety of habitats from arid areas to rainforest, and are known to occur near ant and termite nests.


The diets of leptotyphlopids consist mostly of termite or ant larvae, pupae, and adults. Most species suck out the contents of insect bodies and discard the exoskeleton.[citation needed]


Snakes in the family Leptotyphlopidae are oviparous.[3]


Leptotyphlops sylvicolus.jpg
Forest thread snake (Leptotyphlops sylvicolus), from the type genus Leptotyphlops


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré TA (1999). Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Washington, District of Columbia: Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. ^ a b "Leptotyphlopidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  3. ^ a b Leptotyphlopidae at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 3 November 2008.
  4. ^ Field Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa - Bill Branch (Struik 1988)
  5. ^ Hedges SB (2008). "At the lower size limit in snakes: two new species of threadsnakes (Squamata, Leptotyphlopidae, Leptotyphlops) from the Lesser Antilles". Zootaxa 1841: 1-30.PDF at Zootaxa. Accessed 28 July 2008.

External links[edit]