Indotyphlops braminus

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 reveals tiny scales rather than the annular segments characteristic of true earthworms. The species is parthenogenetic and all known specimens have been female.[4] The specific name is a Latinized form of the word Brahmin. No subspecies are currently recognized.[3]

Indotyphlops braminus
Davidraju Worm Snake.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Typhlopidae
Genus: Indotyphlops
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]


I. braminus in Hua Hin, Thailand (top) and East Timor (bottom)

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[5][6][7]

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 namesEdit

I. braminus is variously known as the brahminy blind snake,[3] 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.

"Kurudi" is the common Malayalam term which refers to braminus.

"Sirupaambu" is the common Tamil term which refers to braminus.

Geographic rangeEdit

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.[8]

The vertical distribution is from sea level to 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) in Sri Lanka and up to 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) in Guatemala. The type locality given is "Vishakhapatam" [India].[1]

This is also the only snake reported from the Lakshadweep Islands.[9]

Indigenous rangeEdit

In Africa, it has been reported in Uganda, Egypt, Kenya, Senegal, Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast, Cameroon,Zambia, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa (an isolated colony in Cape Town and Natal Midlands, 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. It has also been found in Libya [10] and Nossi Be (= Nosy Bé).[11]

In Asia, it occurs on Arabian Peninsula, Lebanon, 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 Riau Archipelago, Bangka, Belitung 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,[12] New Guinea (Western Papua and Papua New Guinea), New Britain, and Bougainville Island.

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

Introduced rangeEdit

They have been introduced mainly to control the spreading of termites in the following countries.

In Australia, it occurs in the Northern Territory near Darwin, and at the northern tip of Queensland and other parts of queensland like sunshine coast.

In Oceania, it occurs on Palau, Guam, Fiji, Saipan, Hawaiian Islands and Tahiti in French Polynesia.

In the Americas, it occurs in the United States (California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Arizona, Hawaii and Texas), western and southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Colombia, Barbados and on the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands.

It has been found in the Canary Islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria, probably being introduced in soil imported with potted plants.[13]

It has also been found in Malta, with two specimens found on the main island. The snake has been labeled as potentially invasive to the native fauna.[14]


Usually, they occur in urban and agricultural areas.[5] 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.[9]


Their diet consists of the larvae, eggs, and pupae of ants and termites.[5]


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, all genetically identical diploid organisms.[5]

It has been proposed that the species be transferred to a new genus as Virgotyphlops braminus because of its obligate parthenogenetic nature.[15]


  1. ^ a b 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. ^ The Reptile Database.
  3. ^ a b c "Ramphotyphlops braminus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 30 August 2007.
  4. ^ Cogger, Harold (2014). Reptiles & Amphibians of Australia. Collingwood, Victoria, Australia: CSIRO Publishing. p. 1036. ISBN 978-0-643-10035-0. OCLC 858573072.
  5. ^ a b c d Brahminy Blind Snake at the Florida State Museum of Natural History. Accessed 30 August 2007.
  6. ^ Brahminy Blind Snake One of the Worlds Smallest Snake
  7. ^ The one of the smallest snake in the world
  8. ^—Herpetology: Ramphotyphlops braminus
  9. ^ a b Whitaker R. 1978. Common Indian Snakes: A Field Guide. Chennai: Macmillan India Limited. 154 pp. ISBN 978-0333901984.
  10. ^ "Indotyphlops braminus (Daudin, 1803)".
  11. ^ "Indotyphlops braminus".
  12. ^ Aru Islands: requires confirmation according to McDowell, 1974:25
  13. ^ John Bowler (2018). Wildlife of Madeira and the Canary Islands. Wild Guides. p. 164. ISBN 9780691170763.
  14. ^ "New snake species found in Malta may be invasive".
  15. ^ Wallach, Van (2020). "First appearance of the Brahminy Blindsnake, Virgotyphlops braminus (Daudin 1803) (Squamata: Typhlopidae), in North America, with reference to the states of Mexico and the USA" (PDF). IRCF Reptiles & Amphibians. 27 (2): 326–330. doi:10.17161/randa.v27i2.14491. S2CID 238115067.

Further readingEdit

  • 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.
  • Mizuno, T., & Kojima, Y. (2015). A blindsnake that decapitates its termite prey. Journal of Zoology, 297(3), 220–224.
  • 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 linksEdit