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Thread Snakes Slender Blind Snakes or Worm Snakes: Leptotyphlopidae

Texas Blind Snake (leptotyphlops Dulcis): Species Account

Physical characteristics: With their brownish pink to dark brown coloration, Texas blind snakes look much like earthworms, except that the snakes have noticeable scales and lack the worm's segments. The snakes have a lighter colored, sometimes almost white, underside. Also known as Texas thread snakes, they have a long, thin body and a small head with eyes that appear as little more than tiny dark spots. Adults range from 2.6 to 10.7 inches (6.6 to 27 centimeters) long. The tail is short, just 5 to 6 percent of total body length, and has a spine at the end.


Geographic range: Texas blind snakes are found in the southwestern United States and northeastern Mexico.

With their brownish pink to dark brown coloration, Texas blind snakes look much like earthworms, except that the snakes have noticeable scales and lack the worm's segments. (Illustration by Emily Damstra. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: Also known as a Texas worm snake, the Texas blind snake spends much of its time in the dirt, under rocks, or in some other hiding place. It can live in dry areas, including deserts and rocky mountainsides, but often chooses a spot near a water source.


Diet: Texas blind snakes most often eat ant larvae and pupae and termites, but they sometimes eat other insects and spiders. They always eat ant larvae and pupae whole, but they often refuse to eat the heads of termites and sometimes only chew the juices out of the back portion of the termite. Once in a while, a small owl known as a screech owl will swoop down to snatch a Texas blind snake and, keeping it alive, bring it back to its nest. There, the snake cleans out the nest by eating small invertebrates that might otherwise nibble on the owl.


Behavior and reproduction: Texas blind snakes live mainly underground but sometimes crawl out of their burrows at night or after a rain downpour. They are not especially good at slithering above ground and sometimes jab the tail spine into the ground to push off. Males and females group together in the spring for the mating season. The female lays two to seven eggs in June or July and then coils around them. Often, several females lay their eggs near one another. The eggs hatch in late summer into baby snakes about 2.6 to 3 inches (6.6 to 7.6 centimeters) long.


Texas blind snakes and people: Texas blind snakes and people rarely encounter one another.


Conservation status: This species is not listed as endangered or threatened. ∎

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Books

Brazaitis, P., and M. Watanabe. Snakes of the World. New York: Crescent Books, 1992.

Burnie, David, and Don Wilson, eds. The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. New York: DK Publishing, 2001.

Grace, Eric, ed. Snakes. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books for Children, 1994.

Greene, H. Snakes: The Evolution of Mystery in Nature. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

McDiarmid, R. W., J. A. Campbell, and T. A. Touré. Snake Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Vol. 1. Washington, DC: Herpetologists' League, 1999.

Mehrtens, John M. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishing, 1987.

Shaw, C. E., and S. Campbell. Snakes of the American West. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974.

Taylor, Barbara. Snakes. New York: Lorenz, 1998.

Werler, J. E., and J. R. Dixon. Texas Snakes: Identification, Distribution, and Natural History. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000.

Web sites

"Family Leptotyphlopidae (slender blind snakes and thread snakes)." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Leptotyphlopidae.html (accessed on September 29, 2004).

"Other Interesting Aspects of Ant Biology." Rice University. http://www.ruf.rice.edu/bws/blindsnake.html (accessed on October 7, 2004).

"Photographs of Blindsnakes." Comparative Physiology and Biomechanics Lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. http://marlin.bio.umass.edu/biology/brainerd/kleyphotos.html (accessed on October 7, 2004).

"Texas Blind Snake." National Wildlife Federation. http://www.enature.com/fieldguide/showSpeciesSH.asp?curGroupID=7&shapeID=1060&curPageNum=1&recnum=AR0724 (accessed on October 7, 2004).

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