English name: Brahminy Blind Snake (aka “Common Blind Snake”, “Flowerpot Snake”)
Scientific name: Indotyphlops braminus (formerly Ramphotyphlops braminus)
Thai name: Ngu-din Ban
Description: Up to 23cm long. Often appears to be a worm at first glance, but can be distinguished by its scales, dry skin, eyes, and flicking tongue. Slender, with body length 30-45 times the body diameter and little change in girth from the tail to the head. Tail comes to a point at the very end. Small eyes and mouth are difficult to see. Scales are small and shiny. Color is grayish-brown to almost black on top and slightly lighter below. The mouth area can be lightened, but not the entire head as in the White-headed Blind Snake (Ramphotyphlops albiceps).
Similar Species: White-headed Blind Snake is more attenuate and has a pale head, rather than just a lightened snout near the end.
Slender Worm Snake is usually longer and more slender and has a more distinct eye. A scale count might be necessary to tell them apart.
Roxane’s Blind Snake has a yellow snout and cloaca and a stouter body.
Diard’s Blind Snake is much larger with a more robust body (see scale key for more identifying characteristics).
Mueller’s Blind Snake is thicker with a sharp line of contrast between the darker color above and the very light belly.
Flower’s Blind Snake has a yellow-cream snout and a blunt tail tip.
Blind snake species are difficult to distinguish from each other, so if you need more specific identifying markers you should use this key to the blind snakes in Thailand.
Habitat: The Brahminy Blind Snake spends its life underground and will live anywhere with loose humid soil, from the rainforest to urban alleys. It can be found under rocks and logs in parks, within discarded trash or while digging in home gardens. On rare occasions it may be found on the surface after heavy rains. It is attracted to ant and termite mounds, where it feeds off of the eggs and larvae.
Contribution to the ecosystem: This snake helps control termite and ant populations by eating their eggs and larvae. One juvenile Brahminy Blind Snake in Lumpani regurgitated 17 ant larvae immediately after capture. This species is also known to eat earthworms. It provides food for larger fossorial snakes and other animals.
Danger to humans: Blind snakes are harmless – they have no venom and their mouths are too small to bite a human. When uncovered or picked up they tend to respond by wiggling vigorously, emitting a small amount of smelly musk, and attempting to stab the disturber with their sharp tail tip.
Conservation status and threats: Due to its small size, abundant food source, simple habitat requirements, and ability to reproduce without males, the Brahminy Blind Snake is a common species that has spread all over the world through agricultural supplies. It is now found not only in its native range in Southeast Asia but also in the Middle East, Africa, Australia, North and South America, and on islands in the Pacific. There are no known threats to its Thai populations.
Interesting facts: The females of this species are the only snakes in the world that can reproduce without a male (parthenogenesis). No male Brahminy Blind Snake has ever been found. The females lay up to seven tiny eggs at a time, each averaging only 4mm by 13mm.
Siam-Info: Blind Snakes
Snakes of Taiwan: Ramphotyphlops braminus
Reptiles of Hong Kong: Ramphotyphlops braminus
Wikipedia: Ramphotyphlops braminus
Typhlops roxaneae, a new species of Thai blindsnake from the T. diardii species group, with a synopsis of the Typhlopidae of Thailand
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand