For Species Sunday this week we are bringing you this teeny tiny Brahminy Blindsnake (Indotyphlops braminus). These snakes are nonvenomous and nonnative. Originating from Southern Asia, these snakes were introduced to Miami, Florida in the 1970's, and have since spread throughout most of the peninsula. They are currently found within at least 34 counties. These little snakes are believed to have become the most wide-ranging terrestrial reptile species in the world!
The Brahminy Blindsnake are only 4.4-6.5 inches in length. They are small, thin, and are a shiny gray, charcoal, or purple-ish color. Without doing a double take, you’d think these little guys were an earthworm! They however do not have a segmented body like a worm and will slither like a snake. Both the head and the tail are blunt and can be difficult to distinguish from one another. The head is connected to the body by an indistinct neck and their eyes have reduced in size to small patches of dark pigment beneath their scales. The tail has a pointed tip.
These snakes have a fossorial lifestyle, meaning they spend a majority of their time underground, beneath rocks, rotting logs, and leaf litter. Because of this lifestyle, they have since spread throughout the world. They live underground and will accidentally be shipped within potted tropical ornamental plants, hence their introduction to Florida. This has also coined their nickname as flowerpot snakes. Due to this lifestyle they had to adapt to feed on creatures that live underground. Their diet consists of eggs, larvae, and pupae of ants and termites.
The Brahminy Blindsnake is parthenogenetic, meaning all individuals are female. They do lay eggs and these unfertilized eggs begin cell division without sperm from a male. They can lay 1-8 eggs and these hatchlings will be genetically identical to their mother. Many reptiles have evolved this parthenogenesis, such as Komodo dragons. During the hot summer months, you may discover one of these snakes within your homes! It can be a little uncomfortable but remember they are harmless to you and pets. They will often seek out shelter to avoid the harsh heat. They commonly like bathrooms as these are warm and often humid. These snakes are harmless and don’t have a large impact, if any, on the local environments they have been introduced to. If you are gardening next time, try looking for one of these cool snakes!