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European blind snake (Xerotyphlops vermicularis)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Infraorder: Scolecophidia
Superfamily: Typhlopoidea
Family: Typhlopidae
Merrem, 1820

The Typhlopidae are a family of blind snakes.[2] They are found mostly in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and all mainland Australia and various islands.[3] The rostral scale overhangs the mouth to form a shovel-like burrowing structure. They live underground in burrows, and since they have no use for vision, their eyes are mostly vestigial. They have light-detecting black eye spots, and teeth occur in the upper jaw. Typhlopids do not have dislocatable lower jaw articulations restricting them to prey smaller than their oral aperture. All species in the family Typhlopidae are fossorial and feed on social fossorial invertebrates such as termites and ants. The tracheal lung is present and chambered in all species. One species, the Brahminy's blind snake, is the only unisexual snake, with the entire population being female and reproducing via parthenogenesis. [4] The tail ends with a horn-like scale. Most of these species are oviparous. Currently, 18 genera are recognized containing over 200 species.[2][5]


The Typhlopidae are thought to have originated on Madagascar during the Late Cretaceous, along with their sister group, the Xenotyphlopidae. The common ancestor of both families is thought to have diverged from the Gerrhopilidae earlier in the Cretaceous, when Insular India broke away from Madagascar. Afterwards, the Typhlopidae are thought to have dispersed out of Madagascar (leaving behind a single basal genus, Madatyphlops) into mainland Africa and then Eurasia, in contrast to the Xenotyphlopidae which remained restricted to Madagascar. From these regions, the Typhlopidae went on to colonize the rest of the world, with African typhlopids rafting across to Atlantic to South America during the Paleocene, then colonizing the Caribbean during the Oligocene, while Asian typhlopids colonized Australia from Southeast Asia or Indonesia later in the Oligocene.[6][7]

Fossil record[edit]

Possible Typhlopid skin has been identified in Dominican amber.[8]

Geographic range[edit]

They are found in most tropical and many subtropical regions all over the world, particularly in Africa, Asia, islands in the Pacific, tropical America, and southeastern Europe.[1]


Genus[2] Taxon author[2] Species[2] Common name Geographic range[1]
Acutotyphlops Wallach, 1995 5 Eastern Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands
Afrotyphlops Broadley & Wallach, 2009[9] 29 sub-Saharan Africa
Amerotyphlops Hedges, Marion, Lipp, Marin & Vidal, 2014 19 Mexico through South America
Anilios Gray, 1845 48 Australia and New Guinea.
Antillotyphlops Hedges, Marion, Lipp, Marin & Vidal, 2014 12 Caribbean islands
Argyrophis Gray, 1845 12 Asia
Cubatyphlops Hedges, Marion, Lipp, Marin & Vidal, 2014 12 Caribbean islands
Cyclotyphlops Bosch & Ineich, 1994 1 Indonesia: Selatan Province, southern Sulawesi
Grypotyphlops W. Peters, 1881[10] 1 peninsular India
Indotyphlops Hedges, Marion, Lipp, Marin & Vidal, 2014 23 Asia
Letheobia Cope, 1869[11] 37 Africa and the Middle East
Madatyphlops Hedges, Marion, Lipp, Marin & Vidal, 2014 15 Madagascar, the Comoro Islands, Mauritius
Malayotyphlops Hedges, Marion, Lipp, Marin & Vidal, 2014 12 the Philippines and Indonesia
Ramphotyphlops Fitzinger, 1843 22 long-tailed blind snakes[2] southern and southeast Asia, as well as many islands in the southern Pacific Ocean
Rhinotyphlops Fitzinger, 1843 7 Africa
Sundatyphlops Hedges, Marion, Lipp, Marin & Vidal, 2014 1 Indonesia and East Timor
TyphlopsT Oppel, 1811 20 the West Indies
Xerotyphlops Hedges, Marion, Lipp, Marin & Vidal, 2014 6 Palearctic

TType genus[1]

Former genera[edit]

Xenotyphlops, formerly classified in the Typhlopidae, is now classed in the Xenotyphlopidae.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d 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).
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Typhlopidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  3. ^ Shine, Richard (2007). Australian Snakes, a Natural History. Chatswood, New South Wales: New Holland Publishers. 224 pp. ISBN 978-1-876334-25-3.
  4. ^ Webb, Jonathan K.; Branch, William R.; Shine, Richard (2001). "Dietary Habits and Reproductive Biology of Typhlopid Snakes from Southern Africa". Journal of Herpetology. 35 (4): 558–567. doi:10.2307/1565893. ISSN 0022-1511. JSTOR 1565893.
  5. ^ Pyron, Robert Alexander; Burbrink, Frank T.; Wiens, John J. (2013). "A phylogeny and revised classification of Squamata, including 4161 species of lizards and snakes". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 13 (1): 93–145. Bibcode:2013BMCEE..13...93P. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-13-93. PMC 3682911. PMID 23627680.
  6. ^ Vidal, Nicolas; et al. (2010). "Blindsnake evolutionary tree reveals long history on Gondwana". Biology Letters. 6 (4): 558–561, page 560. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2010.0220. PMC 2936224. PMID 20356885.
  7. ^ Ali, Jason R.; Hedges, S. Blair (2023). "The colonisation of Madagascar by land‐bound vertebrates". Biological Reviews. 98 (5): 1583–1606. doi:10.1111/brv.12966. ISSN 1464-7931. PMID 37142264. S2CID 258507224.
  8. ^ Poinar, George O.; Poinar, Roberta (1999). The Amber Forest: A Reconstruction of a Vanished World. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-05728-6.
  9. ^ Broadley, Donald G. & Wallach, Van (2009). "A review of the eastern and southern African blind-snakes (Serpentes: Typhlopidae), excluding Letheobia Cope, with the description of two new genera and a new species" (PDF). Zootaxa. 2255: 1–100. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.2255.1.1.
  10. ^ Resurrected for a reclassified Rhinotyphlops acutus by Wallach (2003). Wallach, Van & Pauwels, Olivier S. G. (2004). "Typhlops lazelli, a new species of Chinese blindsnake from Hong Kong (Serpentes: Typhlopidae)". Breviora. 512 (512): 1–21. doi:10.3099/0006-9698(2004)512[1:TLANSO]2.0.CO;2. S2CID 86212032.
  11. ^ Resurrected by Broadley & Wallach (2007). Wallach, Van; Brown, R.M.; Diesmos, A.C. & Gee, G.V.A. (2007). "An enigmatic new species of blind snake from Luzon Island, northern Philippines, with a synopsis of the genus Acutotyphlops (Serpentes: Typhlopidae)" (PDF). Journal of Herpetology. 41 (4): 690–702. doi:10.1670/206-5.1. S2CID 7385343.

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