Indotyphlops braminus, commonly known as the brahminy blind snake and other names, is a nonvenomous blind snake species found mostly in Africa and Asia, but has been introduced in many other parts of the world. They are completely fossorial (i.e., burrowing) animals, with habits and appearance similar to earthworms, for which they are often mistaken, although close examination reveals tiny scales rather than the annular segments characteristic of true earthworms. The specific name is a Latinized form of the word Brahmin. No subspecies are currently recognized.
Adults measure 2–4 inches (5.1–10.2 cm) long, uncommonly to 6 inches (15 cm), making it the smallest known snake species. The head and tail are superficially similar as the head and neck are indistinct. Unlike other snakes, the head scales resemble the body scales. The eyes are barely discernible as small dots under the head scales. The tip of the tail has a small, pointed spur. Along the body are fourteen rows of dorsal scales. Coloration ranges from charcoal gray, silver-gray, light yellow-beige, purplish, or infrequently albino, the ventral surface more pale. Coloration of the juvenile form is similar to that of the adult. Behavior ranges from lethargic to energetic, quickly seeking the cover of soil or leaf litter to avoid light
I. braminus is variously known as the brahminy blind snake, flowerpot snake, common blind snake, island blind snake, teliya snake, and Hawaiian blind snake. The moniker "flowerpot snake" derives from the snake's incidental introduction to various parts of the world through the plant trade.
Probably originally native to Africa and Asia, it is an introduced species in many parts of the world, including Australia, the Americas, and Oceania. It is common as an introduced species throughout most of Florida now.
In Africa, it has been reported in Egypt, Kenya, Senegal, Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa (an isolated colony in Cape Town, also about eight have been found in Lephalale, Limpopo Province at the Medupi Power Station during construction), Madagascar, the Comoro Islands, Mauritius, the Mascarene Islands and the Seychelles.
In Asia, it occurs on Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Pakistan, Nepal, mainland India, the Maldives, the Lakshadweep Islands, Sri Lanka, Maldives ,Bangladesh, the Andaman Islands, the Nicobar Islands, Myanmar, Singapore, the Malay Peninsula, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Hainan, southern China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawashima and Miyakoshima.
In Maritime Southeast Asia, it occurs on Sumatra and nearby islands (the Riao Archipelago, Bangka, Billiton and Nias), Borneo, Sulawesi, the Philippines, Butung, Salajar, Ternate, Halmahera, Buru, Ceram, Ambon, Saparua, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Madura, Flores, Lomblen, Sumba, Timor, East Timor, Kai Island, the Aru Islands, New Guinea (Western Papua and Papua New Guinea), New Britain, and Bougainville Island.
They have been introduced mainly to control the spreading of termites in the following countries.
In the Americas, it occurs in the United States (California, Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Arizona, Hawaii and Texas), western and southern Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, Barbados and on the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands.
Usually, they occur in urban and agricultural areas. These snakes live underground in ant and termite nests. They are also found under logs, moist leaves, stones and humus in wet forest, dry jungle, abandoned buildings and even city gardens. The distribution and survival of this group of blind snakes directly reflect soil humidity and temperature.
Their diet consists of the larvae, eggs, and pupae of ants and termites.
This species is parthenogenetic and all specimens collected so far have been female. They lay eggs or may bear live young. Up to eight offspring are produced - all female and all genetically identical.
It has been proposed that the species be transferred to a new genus as Virgotyphlops braminus because of its obligate parthenogenetic nature.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ramphotyphlops braminus.|
- Indotyphlops braminus at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 30 August 2007.
- Image of Ramphotyphlops braminus[permanent dead link] at the Institute of Toxicology and Genetics. Accessed 30 August 2007.
- Ramphotyphlops braminus at Snakes of Japan. Accessed 30 August 2007.
- Ramphotyphlops braminus at WildHerps.com. Accessed 30 August 2007.
- R. braminus at ThailandSnakes.com. Accessed 22 December 2014.