Brahminy blind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus)

loading
Brahminy blind snake on a leaf
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Brahminy blind snake fact file

Brahminy blind snake description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderSquamata
FamilyTyphlopidae
GenusRamphotyphlops (1)

Not only is the Brahminy blind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus) the most widespread terrestrial snake in the world, but this tiny, subterranean serpent is only of only two known unisexual snake species, with no males having ever been discovered (3) (4) (5) (6) (7).

Appearing more like a dark, shiny earthworm than a true snake (4), this primitive species has a small, cylindrical, body covered in smooth black scales that help to limit friction (5) (6). Other adaptations to its burrowing lifestyle include scale-covered, vestigial eyes, a rigid skull, and a blunt snout (4) (5) (6).

The global spread of this species is at least partially attributable to its habit of ‘stowing away’ in the root mass of exotic potted plants, thus earning it the alternative name of the flowerpot snake (2) (3) (5) (6).

Also known as
Flowerpot snake.
Size
Length: 14 - 18 cm (2)
Top

Brahminy blind snake biology

With a population comprised entirely of females, the Brahminy blind snake is one of only a few snake species known to reproduce through parthenogenesis. This curious reproductive mode involves the female laying small clutches of thin-shelled, peanut-sized eggs without needing to mate. The unfertilized eggs then hatch into tiny snakes around 53 millimetres in length, all of which are female. Thus a single adult, transported half way around the world in a flowerpot, has the potential to start a whole new colony without the hassle of finding a mate (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7).

All blind snakes live primarily underground and are generally only seen on the surface when food is scarce, or after being flushed out by heavy rain (6). Like other blind snakes, the Brahminy blind snake typically feeds on ants, termites and their eggs and larvae (2) (3) (5).

If threatened, this species may occasionally exude a foul-smelling chemical secretion (6).

Top

Brahminy blind snake range

Having been accidentally introduced to many of the warmer parts of the world (5) (6), this species has the widest distribution of any terrestrial snake (3) (4) (7).

Although it is thought to have probably originated form India or Southeast Asia, the Brahminy blind snake is now found in parts of Africa, Australia, North, Central and South America, southern and eastern Asia from the Arabian Peninsula to Japan, and on numerous islands of the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans (3) (4) (7) (8) (9).

The distribution of the Brahminy blind snake continues to widen year after year, and it is thought that it may eventually establish itself in the majority of the world’s tropical and subtropical areas (10) (11)

Top

Brahminy blind snake habitat

The Brahminy blind snake burrows in soft soiland is found in a wide variety of environments, from urban gardens and agricultural fieldsto secondary forests (4) (6) (8).

Top

Brahminy blind snake status

The Brahminy blind snake has yet to be classified by the IUCN.

Top

Brahminy blind snake threats

While the conservation status of the Brahminy blind snake is yet to be assessed on the IUCN Red List, there are no known threats to this species. Furthermore, this species has an extremely widespread distribution and appears to be highly tolerant of disturbance.

Top

Brahminy blind snake conservation

There are no known conservation measures in place for the Brahminy blind snake.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Top

Find out more

To learn more about reptile conservation visit:

  • International Reptile Conservation Foundation:
    www.ircf.org
Top

Authentication

Authenticated (07/08/11) by Olivier S.G. Pauwels, Research Associate at the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium.
http://www.pauwelsolivier.com/

Top

Glossary

Parthenogenesis
The production of viable eggs without fertilisation having occurred. The individuals that result are genetically identical to their mother.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.
Vestigial
A characteristic with little or no contemporary use, but derived from one which was useful and well developed in an ancestral form.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2009)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Vitt, L.J. and Caldwell, J.P. (2001) Herpetology: An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles. Academic Press, USA.
  3. O'Shea, M. (2007) Boas and Pythons of the World. New Holland Publishers, London.
  4. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, United Arab Emirates.
  5. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptile and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. Burnie, D. (2001) Animal. Dorling Kindersley, London.
  7. Ota, H., Hikida, T., Matsui, M., Mori, A. and Wynn, A.H. (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.
  8. Lever, C. (2003) Naturalized Reptiles and Amphibians of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
  9. Wallach, V. (1999) Geographic distribution: Ramphotyphlops braminus. Herpetological Review, 30(4): 236.
  10. Pauwels, O.S.G., Wallach, V., Biteau, J-P., Chimsunchart, C., Yoga, J-A. and O’Heix, B-C.(2004) First record of Ramphotyphlops braminus (Serpentes: Typhlopidae) from Gabon, western central Africa. Hamadryad, 29(1): 138-139.
  11. Paulwels, O. (2011) Pers. comm.
X
Close

Image credit

Brahminy blind snake on a leaf  
Brahminy blind snake on a leaf

© Pratik Pradhan

Pratik Pradhan
Tel: +917666320211
serpentinapratik@gmail.com

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Brahminy blind snake (Ramphotyphlops braminus) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This species is featured in Jewels of the UAE, which showcases biodiversity found in the United Arab Emirates in association with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.

This species is featured in:

Learn more about the world’s snakes on our topic page.

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog