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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California



Brahminy Blindsnake - Indotyphlops braminus

(Daudin, 1803)

(= Ramphotyphlops braminus)
Click on a picture for a larger view



Brahminy Blindsnake California Range MapRed: Location of introduced population in California


Alien Herps in California





observation link






This is an alien species that has been introduced into California. It is not a native species.

If you think you found a Brahminy Blindsnake in California:

Please notify Dr. Gregory B. Pauly at gpauly@nhm.org. Dr. Pauly is Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and is part of a team that is documenting the rapid introduction and establishment of this species into Southern California with the help of people who contact this website and other citizen science projects. If you can, take pictures and send them to him, including close-ups of the eyes and nose if possible. Also, please hold on to the snake if you can. Someone may need to collect and examine it to confirm that it is a Brahminy Blindsnake which is similar in appearance to the native Western Threadsnake. 

See below for information about how to tell the two species apart and make sure that the snake you found is a Brahminy Blindsnake. It's not easy to see the tiny details on these little snakes, especially when they are scared and squirming around, so if you are still in doubt of the species after checking the identification information, please contact Dr. Pauly anyway. You are welcome to contact me at this web site also if you need to.

Brahminy Blindsnake
Adult, Kauai, Hawaii
Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake
Adult female (all snakes of this species are female), Kauai, Hawaii Adult, showing tongue, Kauai, Hawaii Adult, Kauai, Hawaii
Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake
Adult, Kauai, Hawaii Adult, Kauai, Hawaii Underside of adult, Kauai, Hawaii
Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake
Eye Nose Tongue
Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake
Spine on end of tail Adult, Monroe County, Florida
  Brahminy Blindsnake  
  Specimen found in a home in
Chula Vista, San Diego County 2015
 
     
Habitat
Brahminy Blindsnake Habitat Brahminy Blindsnake Habitat Brahminy Blindsnake Habitat
Three views of the area where the snakes were recorded in Chula Vista, San Diego County.
 
Short Video
Brahminy Blindsnake YOUTUBE  
A Brahminy Blind Snake found in Florida is released, and crawls away rapidly with serpentine motion. This YouTube video from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles gives information and a good look at a Brahminy Blindsnake.  
   
Description

Not Dangerous (Not poisonous, Non-venomous)  -  This snake does not have venom that is dangerous to most humans.

Size
2.5 - 7 inches in length (14 - 18 cm.) This is one of the smallest snakes in the world.

Appearance
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.
18 - 20 midbody scale rows.
20 uniform rows of costal scales.
The nasal shields are divided and the eye is not entirely in the Ocular shield.
Color and Pattern
Color is typically dark brown, but can be pale or yellowish brown, or grey.
The underside is lighter than the rest of the body.

Similar Snakes in California
Brahminy Blindsnakes look very much like California native Western Threadsnakes. You can't tell the difference between the two species without looking closely at one or more tiny details - the rostral scale, the dark eye spot, or the length of the tail.
Go to this page for a more detailed explanation on how to compare these snakes.

Life History and Behavior
This species has colonized much of the world by stowing away in the soil of nursery plants, due to its small size and ability to reproduce on its 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.

In California they show a lot of surface activity from the end of August to mid October. (GP)

The eyes are not capable of seeing, but they can detect the presence of light.
Diet and Feeding
Eats ants, insect larvae, and other small invertebrates.
Breeding
The only parthenogenetic snake species known so far
(although another parthenogenetic snake species may be Acrochordus arafurae). 
All snakes are females that are capable of reproducing without males.
Oviporous, laying 2 to 7 tiny eggs.

Habitat
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.

Geographical Range
This is the most wide-ranging terrestrial snake in the world. It is most likely native to South Asia, but has been reported worldwide in locations including Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Australia, India, Southeast Asia, China, Indonesia, the Phillapines, Mexico, the United States including the Hawaiian Islands, several Caribbean Islands, and Central America.

Besides California, in the United States the Brahminy Blindsnake has also been established in Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Texas, and Virginia, and it has been reported from several other states where it is most likely also established.

Sightings in California

The species has been observed in California since about the year 2000.

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The first record from California was published in 2010:

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: rfisher@usgs.gov."

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As of 2018 they have become widespread in San Diego, Orange, and Los Angeles Counties and can be expected just about anywhere now in Southern California. They have already been found in Bakersfield and are expected to be found in other locations in the San Joaquin Valley.

A few of the areas in the state where the snake has been reported that I have heard about, but which are certainly not all locations, are these:

Marina Del Rey
La Mesa
Costa Mesa
Bakersfield
Culver City
Clairemont
San Pedro
Pasadena
San Gabriel
Sierra Madre
Arcadia
El Monte
Santa Ana


The H.E.R.P. Database is another place to see reports of this snake in California.

Notes on Taxonomy
Formerly Ramphotyphlops braminus - Brahminy Blindsnake (Daudin, 1803)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
None known.
Taxonomy
Family Typhlopidae Blindsnakes Merrem, 1820
Genus Indotyphlops South Asian Blindsnakes Hedges, Marion, Lipp, Marin, and Vidal, 2014
Species

braminus Brahminy Blindsnake (Daudin, 1803)
Original Description
Ramphotyphlops: Fitzinger, 1843
R. braminus: (Daudin, 1803)

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Indotyphlops - Indo- refers to the Indian subcontinent, referring to the snake's geographic origin
"typhlops" = blind, referring to the snake's lack of eyes.
braminus = Latinized form of "Brahmin" a Hindu caste.

(formerly Ramphotyphlops = Greek "rhamphos" = a curving beak or bill, "typhlops" = blind.)
Alternate Names
Common Blind Snake
Flowerpot Snake
Island Blind Snake
Hawaiian Blind Snake

Related or Similar California Herps
Southwestern Threadsnake - Rena humilis humilis
Desert Threadsnake - Rena humilis cahuilae

More Information and References
Palmer, Daniel D., and Robert N. Fisher. Herpetological Review Volume 41, Number 4 - December 2010 P. 518.

McKeown, Sean. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians in the Hawaiian Islands. 1996.

Bartlett, Richard D., and Patricia Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Snakes of Eastern and Central North America (North of Mexico) 2006).

Tennant, Alan. A Field Guide to Snakes of Florida (The Geological Field Guide Series) 1997.

Conant, R., Collins, J. T. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Third Edition. 1998.

Wall, Frank. Snakes of Ceylon. 1921.

Conservation Status

The following status listings are copied from the April 2018 Special Animals List and the 2017 Endangered and Threatened Animals List, both of which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either CDFW list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status, you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.

Check here to see the most current complete lists.


This snake is not included on the Special Animals List, which indicates that there are no significant conservation concerns for it yet in California.

Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking
NatureServe State Ranking
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN


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