Ramphotyphlops braminus (Daudin, 1803)

Kaiser, Hinrich, Carvalho, Venancio Lopes, Ceballos, Jester, Freed, Paul, Heacox, Scott, Lester, Barbara, Richards, Stephen J., Trainor, Colin R., Sanchez, Caitlin & O'Shea, Mark, 2011, The herpetofauna of Timor-Leste: a first report, ZooKeys 109, pp. 19-86 : 47

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Ramphotyphlops braminus (Daudin, 1803)


Ramphotyphlops braminus (Daudin, 1803) Fig. 26 View Figure 26

Common names.

(E) Brahminy Blindsnake, Flowerpot Snake. *(T) Samea matan delek (samea = snake, matan delek = blind).


Brahminy blindsnakes are vermiform snakes in both morphology ( Fig. 26 View Figure 26 Upper) and behavior. Body thickness is similar in diameter to the ink tube of a ballpoint pen, and when encountered these snakes will writhe energetically. When grabbed, a typical behavior is to stab the pointed end of the tail into the finger holding the animal in order to gain better purchase for an escape. A closer look will reveal much-reduced eyes as pigmented areas under translucent head scales ( Fig. 26 View Figure 26 Lower), a tiny forked tongue, and a scale pattern that is diagnostic when differentiating blindsnake taxa. Addison Wynn (USNM) confirmed species identity.

Collection and natural history.

We found three specimens of this near-cosmopolitan blindsnake, each in disturbed habitat. The first was found under a rock in the middle of an unpaved country lane with very little vehicular traffic. The second was spotted within minutes of the first under a rock along the edge of the same road. We were surprised by fact that the third specimen essentially found us, by travelling across the smooth, tiled floors of the hotel lobby and into one of our rooms. Even though it was easily spotted, it was quite difficult to pick up.

This is the only known parthenogenetic snake species and this factor, combined with its small size and secretive nature, make it an excellent colonizer. A single specimen arriving in the root-ball of a decorative or food plant is sufficient to establish a new colony. Due to the actions of humans this is the most widely distributed snake species in the world, probably only rivaled by the ubiquitous house geckos ( Hemidactylus spp.) amongst the lizards.