Gerrhopilus floweri

flower's blind snake Gerrhopilus floweri งูดินหัวเหลือง Ngu-din Hua Leuang
Flower’s Blind Snake from vicinity of Bangkok (CAS 101599, photo by Erica Ely)

English name: Flower’s Blind Snake
Scientific name: Gerrhopilus floweri (formerly Typhlops floweri)
Thai name: งูดินหัวเหลือง (Ngu-din Hua Leuang)

Description: To 23cm long. May appear to be a worm at first glance, but can be distinguished by its small shiny scales, eyes, and flicking tongue. Head is relatively flat and wide. Tail is blunt and lacks the sharp tail spine found in many local blind snakes. Coloration is predominantly black or blackish-brown above and pale brown below with creamy yellow from snout to chin and around anal region. There are 18 rows of scales at the middle of the body.

Similar Species: Roxane’s Blind Snake has a stouter body and 20 midbody scale rows.
Brahminy Blind Snake has a sharp tail tip and 20 midbody scale rows.
White-headed Blind Snake has a white head and a sharp tail tip and 20 midbody scale rows.
Slender Worm Snake has a sharp tail tip.
Diard’s Blind Snake is far bulkier and has 24-30 midbody scale rows .

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: Naturally found in evergreen forests, but also shows up in parks and gardens. Spends most of the time underground. Likely travels on the surface on rainy or humid nights.

Place in the ecosystem: This snake helps control insect and other arthropod populations by feeding on their larvae and pupae. It is eaten by 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 and emitting a small amount of smelly musk.

Conservation status and threats: It is rarely seen due to its secretive habits but has no known conservation threats.

Interesting facts: Flower’s Blind Snake is endemic to Thailand, which means that it has never been found anywhere else. It is only known from a small area of the country, with records from Bangkok, Ayutthaya Province, and Khao Soi National Park.

Though blind snakes share a similar general appearance, they actually differ quite a bit genetically. While nearly all of Thailand’s blind snakes belong to the family Typhlopidae, or “Typical Blind Snakes”, Flower’s Blind Snake is the one local exception. This species comes from the family Gerrhopilida, known as “Indo-Malayan Blind Snakes”. You may see that it appears to have a different body and tail shape, and if you look closely at the head you can see that its glands are “peppered” all over the head rather than falling on distinct lines.

References:
Typhlops roxaneae, a new species of Thai blindsnake from the T. diardii species group, with a synopsis of the Typhlopidae of Thailand
A Key to the Blind Snakes of Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia