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Thread Snakes Slender Blind Snakes or Worm Snakes: Leptotyphlopidae


Slender blind snakes eat small invertebrates (in-VER-teh-brehts), which are insects and other animals without backbones. Many of the species will eat almost anything, including insects such as caterpillars, fly maggots, beetles, cockroaches, and crickets, as well as spiders, harvestmen, which include daddy longlegs, and the many-legged centipedes and millipedes. Most species, however, tend to prefer ants and termites. The snakes are able to find ant and termite hills by following the chemical trails that these insects leave on the ground as they travel to and from the nest. Once the snake tracks down the ant or termite hill, it slithers inside and eats as much as it can. In ant hills, they especially like the eggs, larvae (LAR-vee), and pupae (PYU-pee). Ant eggs hatch into larvae, which are the maggotlike life stage of ants. Eventually, the larvae transform into the motionless pupae stage before becoming adult ants. The slender blind snakes are able to jut out and pull in the lower jaw very quickly, which allows them to eat hundreds of eggs, larvae, and pupae in a very short time.

Many animals avoid ant hills because these insects, which are very protective of their nests, can bite and sting. The slender blind snake, however, is able to defend itself. When attacked, the snake rolls into a ball and smears itself with its body's own ant repellant: a mixture of slime and feces. The ants shy away from the smelly mess, leaving the snake to return to its meal.


Some animals need to live in a moist environment. The slender blind snakes, for example, burrow underground, hide beneath rocks, or slither into rotting logs or piles of dead leaves. One of the reasons a slender blind snake needs moisture is its very high surface-to-volume ratio. This is a mathematical formula that shows how much outer surface, or surface area, an animal has compared to the space, or volume, the entire animal takes up. Because the slender blind snake is so long and thin, it has a great deal of surface area compared to its overall tiny body. If the snake were round like a ball rather than long and thin, its surface area would be much, much smaller. The outside weather has a greater effect on animals with higher surface-to-volume ratios, because a higher percentage of their total body volume is exposed. This means that they can dry out especially fast and may even die. For this reason, these animals frequently live in moist habitats or underground where their surroundings are damp.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesThread Snakes Slender Blind Snakes or Worm Snakes: Leptotyphlopidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Texas Blind Snake (leptotyphlops Dulcis): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, SLENDER BLIND SNAKES AND PEOPLE, CONSER