Reptiles and Amphibians of Bangkok

Central Thailand's Snakes, Lizards, Turtles, and Frogs

Mueller’s Blind Snake

Argyrophis muelleri

Muller's Blind Snake Argyrophis Typhlops muelleri Krabi งูดินใหญมลาย Ngu-din Yai Malayu
Mueller’s Blind Snake in Krabi (THNHM 24472)

English name: Mueller’s Blind Snake (aka: “White-bellied Blind Snake”)
Scientific name: Argyrophis muelleri (formerly Typhlops muelleri)
Thai name: งูดินใหญมลาย (Ngu-din Yai Malayu)

Description: To 48cm long. May appear to be a thick worm at first glance, but can be distinguished by its small shiny scales, eyes, and flicking tongue. The largest blind snake in Thailand, and body is thick for a blind snake. Black, purple, or olive-brown coloration on top is clearly separated from a creamy-white underbelly.

Similar Species: Brahminy Blind Snake is smaller and more slender with more uniform coloration.
White-headed Blind Snake is smaller and much more slender with more uniform coloration.
Slender Worm Snake is smaller and much more slender with more uniform coloration.
Diard’s Blind Snake has a dark dorsal coloration that fades into the lighter belly, rather than a sharp line of contrast.
Roxane’s Blind Snake lacks the sharp line of contrast separating dorsal and ventral coloration and only has darkest coloration on the topmost five scale rows.
Flower’s Blind Snake is more slender, lacks the sharp line of contrast between dorsal and ventral and has a blunt tail.

Blind snake species are difficult to distinguish from each other, so if you need more specific identifying markers you can go to this key to the blind snakes in Thailand.

Habitat: Normally found in primary or thick secondary forests, but sometimes turns up in gardens in rural areas. Can be found in waterlogged soil, including muddy agricultural land. Spends most of the time underground, under leaf litter, or in rotting logs, but is sometimes active on the surface on rainy or humid nights.

Contribution to the ecosystem: This snake helps control termite and ant populations by feeding on their larvae and pupae, and also eats other soft-bodied insects, worms, and mollusks. 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: No known conservation issues, though due to its habits this snake is not commonly found.

There are records from Bangkok for this species from the 19th century, but it may no longer exist in Bangkok, and if it does it is very rare. It’s typical thick forest habitat has mostly been destroyed in the Bangkok area.

Interesting facts: Mueller’s Blind Snake is reported to sometimes feed on smaller snakes, which is unique among the blind snakes of Thailand. Its relatively large size is what enables it to go after such substantial prey.

References:
Ecology Asia: White-bellied Blind Snake
Typhlops roxaneae, a new species of Thai blindsnake from the T. diardii species group, with a synopsis of the Typhlopidae of Thailand
Michael Cota, Personal Communication.
A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand

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