English name: Slender Worm Snake (aka: “Slender Blind Snake”, “Doi Pui Blind Snake”, “Stoliczka’s Worm Snake”)
Scientific name: Indotyphlops porrectus (formerly Typhlops porrectus)
Thai name: งูดินดอยปุย (Ngu-din Doi Pui)
Description: To 28cm long. May appear to be a worm at first glance, but can be distinguished by its small shiny scales, eyes, and flicking tongue. Slender even for a blind snake, with a body length 50-60 times greater than the body diameter. Has distinct eye and a sharp spine on end of tail. Body is light brown to brownish-black and there are 18 rows of scales at the middle of the body. Underbelly is pale brown, with snout to chin and anal area white or cream. Some specimens have a pale head going all the way back behind the eyes.
Similar Species: Brahminy Blind Snake has a less distinct eye, is not quite as slender, and has 20 midbody scale rows. A scale count might be necessary to tell them apart.
White-headed Blind Snake has a less distinct eye, 20 midbody scales, and typically a striking white head. A scale count might be necessary to tell them apart.
Flower’s Blind Snake is heftier and has a blunt tail with no sharp spine.
Roxane’s Blind Snake has a stouter body.
Diard’s Blind Snake is larger and much more robust.
Blind snake species are difficult to distinguish from each other on appearance alone. More specific identifying characteristics are described in this key to the blind snakes in Thailand.
Habitat: Is found in forests, parks, and agricultural areas. Usually found under rotting logs. Like other blind snakes comes to the surface occasionally during humid/rainy nights.
Place in the ecosystem: This snake helps control insect populations by feeding on insect larvae and soft-bodied insects, as well as other soft-bodied arthropods. It is eaten by larger fossorial snakes.
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: No known conservation issues. The Slender Blind Snake is very rarely recorded in Southeast Asia. This may be because it is rare, or because it is difficult to observe, or because it is being confused for Brahminy Blind Snakes or White-headed Blind Snakes. See the White-headed Blind Snake account for more information on this possible confusion in Thailand.
Interesting facts: With their subterranean lifestyle, small size, lack of features, and uniform coloration, blind snake species can be difficult to locate and identify. This leads to disputes over their identification and distribution. While some sources list the Slender Worm Snake as only occurring only in South Asia, or perhaps east to northern Thailand at most, the Thailand Reptiles and Amphibians checklist by Nabhitabhata et al. and the Chulalongkorn University key to blind snakes in Thailand by Niyomwan et al. both note several records from the Bangkok area. More work may need to be done to confirm their presence in central Thailand.
A key to the Blind Snakes in Thailand
Siamensis.org: Doi Pui Blind Snake
Reptiles of India: Indotyphlops porrectus
The Reptile Database: Indotyphlops porrectus
Michael Cota, personal communication
Van Wallach, personal communication
Typhlops roxaneae, a new species of Thai blindsnake from the T. diardii species group, with a synopsis of the Typhlopidae of Thailand
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia