Ramphotyphlops braminus - Brahminy Blindsnake
5.5 - 7 inches in length (14 - 18 cm.)
A small, dark, worm-like snake with smooth, shiny scales, a short head with no neck, a short tail which ends in a small spine, and light spots where the eyes should be. Color is typically dark brown, but can be pale or yellowish brown, or grey. The underside is lighter than the rest of the body.
20 uniform rows of costal scales. The nasal shields are divided and the eye is not entirely in the Ocular shield.
Behavior and Natural History
This species has colonized much of the world by stowing away in the soil of nursery plants, due to its ability to reproduce on their own without having to find a mate of the same species.
Spends much time underground, but also found underneath surface objects and on the surface, especially after saturating rains.
The eyes are not capable of seeing, but they can detect the presence of light.
Eats ants, insect larvae, and other small invertebrates.
Parthenogenetic. All snakes are females that are capable of reproducing without males.
Oviporous, laying 2 to 7 tiny eggs.
Likely native to South Asia, but reported worldwide in Africa, including the Arabian Peninsula, Australia, India, Southeast Asia, China, Indonesia, the Phillapines, Mexico, the United States, and Central America.
In California, recorded in Chula Vista. There are also unconfirmed reports from Los Angeles County at Marina Del Rey.
Also established in Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Texas, and Virginia, and reported from several other states.
Prefers warm areas with high soil humidity. Typically found in urban and agricultural areas near ant and termite nests, but also found in gardens, jungles, forests, and other habitats. Usually found under logs, rocks, rotting wood, moist leaves and humus.
This snake was first recorded in California by this note: Palmer, Daniel D., and Robert N. Fisher. Herpetological Review Volume 41, Number 4 - December 2010 P. 518.
"RAMPHOTYPHLOPS BRAMINUS (Brahminy Blind Snake). USA: CALIFORNIA: San diego co.: City of Chula Vista ....
07 November 2006. Marcos Dominguez, Sarmed D. Alzubaidi, and Stanley O’Gara.
A second specimen was collected on 28 September 2009 by Daniel D. Palmer, Tony E. Garcia, Trevor H. Jordan. Verified by Jens Vindum. California Academy of Sciences (CAS 244221–244222).
This is the first record for California and the west coast of the USA (Kraus 2009. Alien Reptiles and Amphibians: A Scientific Compendium and Analysis. Invading Nature: Springer Series in Invasion Ecology 4. Springer-Verlag. 563 pp.).
Apparently reproducing and established given that the first specimen was an adult collected in 2006 and the second specimen collected in 2009 was a small juvenile. Both were found in an urban setting. It is not known if this species will invade native habitats in southern California or presents a risk to native species. Urban Chula Vista is dominated by invasive Argentine Ants (Linepithema humile) and it is assumed that this invasive will be abundant prey for the snake.
Submitted by DANIEL D. PALMER, Wildlife Research Institute, 18030 Highland Valley Road, Ramona, California 92065, USA; and ROBERT N. FISHER U.S. Geological Survey, San Diego Field Station, 4165 Spruance Road, Suite 200, San Diego, California 92101-0812, USA; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org."
Conservation Issues (Conservation Status)