Argyrophis roxaneae

Roxane's Blind Snake Argyrophis roxaneae Thailand Typhlops FMNH R177984 holotype
Roxane’s Blind Snake in Nakhon Bangkok (© MCZ Harvard)

Photos courtesy of the Herpetology Collection of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. Credit to Joe Martinez for taking the photographs.

English name: Roxane’s Blind Snake (aka “Bangkok Blind Snake”)
Scientific name: Argyrophis roxaneae (formerly Typhlops roxaneae)
Thai name: งูดินโรซาน (Ngu-din Roosaan)

Description: This species is known from a single specimen found in Bangkok, which was 23.1cm in length. Like other blind snakes it may appear similar to a worm at first glance, but can be distinguished by its small shiny scales, eyes, and flicking tongue. Coloration when preserved is golden brown above and yellow-tan below. There are 20 scale rows around the body and only five rows of scales on top have the darkest pigment. The snout and cloacal region were yellow with a yellow ring around the tail tip.

Similar Species: Brahminy Blind Snake is darker and more slender.
White-headed Blind Snake is more slender and has a distinctly pale/white head.
Slender Worm Snake is more slender and has 18 midbody scale rows.
Flower’s Blind Snake has a uniformly darker dorsal color and 18 midbody scale rows.
Diard’s Blind Snake is larger and more uniformly darker and has 24-30 scale rows.
Mueller’s Blind Snake is larger and has a clear defining line between upper coloration and cream underbelly.
Siamese Blind Snake is more uniformly dark rather than only being darkest on the upper five 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: Only one specimen has been found, in a school garden outside an urban area. Like other blind snakes it would be expected to spend most of the time underground.

Place in the ecosystem: Little is known about the species, but it is expected to feed on the larvae and pupae of insects. It may be eaten by larger fossorial snakes and other animals.

Danger to humans: Blind snakes are harmless.

Conservation status and threats: With only one specimen ever found, and that in a major urban area, this species may be extinct. However, it may simply be cryptic and still existing in unknown localities – such is the difficulty when dealing with blind snakes.

Interesting facts: A single subadult female of this species was found on the grounds of Bangkok International School on October 2, 1963. It sat in a museum collection and wasn’t identified as a new species by Van Wallach until 38 years later. No other individuals have ever been identified.

References:
Typhlops roxaneae, a new species of Thai blindsnake from the T. diardii species group
Typhlops roxaneae. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012
Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology: Herpetology R-177984
Van Wallach, pers. comm.
Thai National Parks: Roxane’s Blind Snake
Key to the Blind Snakes of Thailand