Indotyphlops braminus

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Indotyphlops braminus
Ramphotyphlops braminus.jpg
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Infraorder: Scolecophidia
Cope, 1864[1]
Family: Typhlopidae
Genus: Indotyphlops
Species: I. braminus
Binomial name
Indotyphlops braminus
(Daudin, 1803)
  • Eryx braminus Daudin, 1803
  • [Tortrix] Russelii
    Merrem, 1820
  • Typhlops braminus
    Cuvier, 1829
  • Typhlops Russeli
    Schlegel, 1839
  • Argyrophis truncatus
    Gray, 1845
  • Argyrophis Bramicus
    Gray, 1845
  • Eryx Bramicus
    — Gray, 1845
  • Tortrix Bramicus
    — Gray, 1845
  • Onychocephalus Capensis A. Smith, 1846
  • Ophthalmidium tenue Hallowell, 1861
  • T[yphlops]. (Typhlops) inconspicuus Jan, 1863
  • T[yphlops]. (Typhlops) accedens Jan, 1863
  • T[yphlops]. accedens
    — Jan & Sordelli, 1864
  • Typhlops (Typhlops) euproctus Boettger, 1882
  • Typhlops bramineus A.B. Meyer, 1887
  • Tortrix russellii
    Boulenger, 1893
  • Typhlops russellii
    — Boulenger, 1893
  • Typhlops braminus
    — Boulenger, 1893
  • Typhlops accedens
    — Boulenger, 1893
  • Typhlops limbrickii Annandale, 1906
  • Typhlops braminus var. arenicola Annandale, 1906
  • [Typhlops braminus] var. pallidus Wall, 1909
  • Typhlops microcephalus F. Werner, 1909
  • Glauconia braueri Sternfeld, 1910
  • [Typhlops] braueri
    — Boulenger, 1910
  • Typhlopidae braminus
    Roux, 1911
  • Typhlops fletcheri
    Wall, 1919
  • Typhlops braminus braminus Mertens, 1930
  • Typhlops braminus
    — Nakamura, 1938
  • Typhlops pseudosaurus Dryden & Taylor, 1969
  • Typhlina (?) bramina
    McDowell, 1974
  • Ramphotyphlops braminus
    Nussbaum, 1980[1]
  • Indotyphlops braminus
    Hedges et al., 2014[2]

Indotyphlops braminus, commonly known as the brahminy blind snake[3] and other names, is a non-venomous 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 will reveal tiny scales rather than the annular segments characteristic of true earthworms.

The specific name is a Latinized form of the word Brahmin, which is a caste among Hindus. No subspecies are currently recognized.[3]


R. braminus in East Timor

Adults are small and thin, averaging between 6.35-16.5 cm (2½ to 6½ inches) in length. The head and tail-tip look much the same, with no narrowing of the neck. The rudimentary eyes appear only as a pair of small dots under the head scales. The tip of the tail ends with a tiny pointed spur. The head scales are small and resemble those on the body. There are 20 rows of dorsal scales along the entire body. The coloration of the adults varies from shiny silver gray to charcoal gray or purple. The venter is grayish to brown. Juveniles are colored much the same as the adults.[4]

The tiny eyes are covered with translucent scales, rendering these snakes almost entirely blind. The eyes cannot form images, but are still capable of registering light intensity.

Common names[edit]

Ramphotyphlops braminus is variously known as brahminy blind snake (or brahminy blindsnake),[3] flowerpot snake, common blind snake, island blind 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.

Geographic range[edit]

Found in Africa and Asia. It is an introduced species in many parts of the world, including Australia and the Americas. It is common throughout most of Florida now.[5]

The vertical distribution is from sea level to 1,200 m in Sri Lanka and up to 1,500 m in Guatemala. The type locality given is "Vizagapatam" [India].[1]

This is also the only snake reported from the Lakshadweep Islands.[6]

R. braminus


In Africa, it has been reported in Senegal, Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Somalia, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa (an isolated colony in Cape Town, also about 8 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, 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,[7] New Guinea (Western Papua and Papua New Guinea), New Britain and Bougainville Island.

It occurs in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, on Christmas Island.


In Australia it occurs in the Northern Territory near Darwin, and at the northern tip of Queensland.

In Oceania, it occurs on Palau, Guam, Saipan, and the Hawaiian Islands.

The Americas it occurs in the United States (California, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, & Texas); western and southern Mexico; and Guatemala; and on the Cayman Islands.


Usually occur in urban and agricultural areas.[4] These snakes live underground in ant and termite nests. They are also found under logs, moist leaves and humus in wet forest, dry jungle and even city gardens. The distribution and survival of this group of snakes directly reflects soil humidity and temperature.[6]


Their diet consists of the larvae, eggs, and pupae of ants and termites.[4]


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.[4]


  1. ^ a b c McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré TA. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Washington, District of Columbia: Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "McD99" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  2. ^ The Reptile Database.
  3. ^ a b c "Ramphotyphlops braminus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 30 August 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c d Brahminy Blind Snake at the Florida State Museum of Natural History. Accessed 30 August 2007.
  5. ^—Herpetology: Ramphotyphlops braminus
  6. ^ a b Whitaker R. 1978. Common Indian Snakes: A Field Guide. Chennai: Macmillan India Limited. 154 pp. ISBN 978-0333901984.
  7. ^ Aru Islands: requires confirmation according to McDowell, 1974:25

Further reading[edit]

  • Annandale N. 1906. Notes on the fauna of a desert tract in southern India. Part I. Batrachians and reptiles, with remarks on the reptiles of the desert region of the North-West Frontier. Mem. Asiatic Soc. Bengal, Calcutta 1: 183-202.
  • Boulenger GA. 1893. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume I., Containing the Families Typhlopidæ ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xiii + 448 pp. + Plates I-XXVIII. (Typhlops braminus, pp. 16–17).
  • Daudin FM. 1802. Histoire Naturelle, Générale et Particulière des Reptiles. Tome septième [Volume 7]. Paris: F. Dufart. 436 pp.
  • Hedges SB, Marion AB, Lipp KM, Marin J, Vidal N. 2014. A taxonomic framework for typhlopid snakes from the Caribbean and other regions (Reptilia, Squamata). Caribbean Herpetology (49): 1-61. (Indotyphlops braminus, new combination).
  • Jones GS, Thomas LA, Wong K. 1995. "Ramphotyphlops braminus ". Herpetological Review 26 (4):210-211.
  • Kelaart EF. 1854. Catalogue of reptiles collected in Ceylon. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., Second Series 13: 137-140.
  • Kraus F, Carvalho D. 2001. The Risk to Hawai'i from Snakes. Pacific Science 55 (4): 409-417. PDF at University of Hawai'i press. Accessed 20 April 2008.
  • Nussbaum RA. 1980. The brahminy blind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus) in the Seychelles Archipelago: Distribution, variation, and further evidence for parthenogenesis. Herpetologica 36 (3): 215-221.
  • Oliver JA, Shaw CE. 1953. The amphibians and reptiles of the Hawaiian Islands. Zoologica, New York 38 (5): 65-95.
  • O'Shea M, Halliday T. 2002. Smithsonian Handbooks: Reptiles and Amphibians. London: DK Publishing. 256 pp. ISBN 0-7894-9393-4.
  • Ota H, Hikida T, Matsui M, Mori A, Wynn AH. 1991. Morphological variation, karyotype and reproduction of the parthenogenetic blind snake, Ramphotyphlops braminus, from the insular region of East Asia and Saipan. Amphibia-Reptilia 12: 181-193.
  • Owen R, Bowman DT Jr, Johnson SA. 1998. "Geographic Distribution. Ramphotyphlops braminus ". Herpetological Review 29 (2): 115.
  • Palmer, DD and RN Fisher. 2010. "Geographic Distribution. Ramphotyphlops braminus ". Herpetological Review 41 (4): 518.
  • Thomas LA. 1997. "Geographic Distribution. Ramphotyphlops braminus ". Herpetological Review 28 (2): 98.
  • Vijayakumar SP, David P. 2006. Taxonomy, Natural History, And Distribution Of The Snakes Of The Nicobar Islands (INDIA), Based On New Materials And With An Emphasis On Endemic Species. Russian Journal of Herpetology 13 (1): 11 – 40.
  • Wall F. 1919. Notes on a collection of Snakes made in the Nilgiri Hills and the adjacent Wynaad. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 26: 552-584.
  • Wallach V. 1999. "Geographic distribution: Ramphotyphlops braminus ". Herpetological Review 30 (4): 236.
  • Wynn AH, Cole CJ, Gardner AL. 1987. "Apparent Triploidy in the Unisexual Brahminy Blind Snake, Ramphotyphlops braminus ". American Museum Novitates 2868: 1-7.

External links[edit]