Blind Snakes, Ramphotyphlops spp., are small, non-venomous snakes and are rarely encountered. They are nocturnal and usually burrow through the soil, although they may be seen moving on the surface on warm humid nights. They are found in loamy soils, under rocks, in or under rotting logs or in ant or termite nests. All species lay eggs and feed primarily on ants and/or termites. Most are pink or grey in colour with extremely shiny scales. They are incapable of biting.
Ramphotyphlops australis is a very robust species, with 22 mid-body scale rows and an average length of 25 cm (maximum 46 cm). It is grey or purplish brown above, with a slightly paler head and has a pale yellow or pinkish-white belly. It is found in north-western Victoria and females lay 2-11 eggs per clutch.
Ramphotyphlops australisPhotographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd
Ramphotyphlops proximus is another heavily-built species. It has a rounded head, 20 mid-body scale rows and has an average length of 50 cm (maximum 70 cm). It is a dark brown snake and occurs in north-central Victoria. Females lay up to 35 eggs per clutch.
Ramphotyphlops proximusPhotographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd
Ramphotyphlops bituberculatus is a slender species with a distinctly trilobed head. It has 20 mid-body scale rows and an average length of 30 cm (maximum 45 cm). Unlike the other three species of blind snakes in Victoria, which are grey or black as adults, this species is pale brown. It occurs in north-western and north-central Victoria and females lay 2-9 eggs per clutch.
Ramphotyphlops bituberculatusPhotographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd
Ramphotyphlops nigrescens has 22 mid-body scale rows and a total length of up to 75 cm. Its colour ranges from purplish pink-brown to almost black above and creamish pink below. It occurs throughout central and eastern Victoria.
Ramphotyphlops nigrescensPhotographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd
Coventry, A. J. and Robertson, P. 1991. The Snakes of Victoria – A Guide to their Identification. Department of Conservation & Environment/Museum of Victoria.
Cogger, H. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books.
Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2003. Reptiles of Australia. Princeton University Press.
Depending on where in Far North Queensland you are, the blind snake could be one of half a dozen species. A more accurate location could narrow it down, and a picture may help but it usually doesn't with blind snakes - you usually have to count the scales to be sure of the species. A useful tool is the Atlas of Living Australia website in which you can search by location. This will give you all the species recorded within 10km of your location.
Blind snakes are protected in Victoria and they are not permitted to be kept by the general public. Many species of reptiles can be kept with permits, but not blind snakes. It’s also illegal to collect any reptiles from the wild without appropriate permits, and these are issued very judiciously. If you are in Victoria and has collected them from the wild, you need to contact the Department of Sustainability and Environment and/or return the snakes to where they were collected. If you live outside Victoria, please check the regulations with the local wildlife authorities. The diet of blind snakes is mostly ants or termites, but most species prefer the eggs of bullants.
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Heidi; sorry we can't really help with this; 19th-floor Shanghai snakes are not something we have expertise on - you might want to contact a local natural history museum for more information, such as the Shanghai Natural History Museum at http://www.sstm.org.cn/kjg_Web/html/defaultsite/portal/index/index.htm
Hope this helps
Where you find one you may find more - there is likely to be a healthy breeding population in the area. Blind snakes are wonderful creatures but are seen only rarely, though more often after rain.
Sounds like your father handled it very well. Picking up with tongs & putting in a bucket to carry outside or even using a dust-pan broom to gently sweep it into a bucket is a good way of moving a blind snake without having to touch it while not harming it. A bucket is tall enough that a small blind snake will not be able to get up the sides. Very little is known about the biology of blind snakes, so to be honest I don't know how long they live for.
Hi Meaghan, our Curator of Herpetology has said that seems small for a blind snake egg. However, their eggs can vary significantly in size, depending on the size of the species (larger species lay larger eggs) – some of the very small species have quite small eggs but this still seems very small if it was only 3mm across. Is it possible that this might be an insect egg? Blind snakes eat insect eggs and larvae.
Hi Suryo, so little is known about the biology of blind snakes. One possibility is that over winter large numbers of these snakes may rely on each other thermally to survive. The other possibility is that some snakes are known to form large breeding groups in Spring.
Blind snakes are found throughout Australia (except Tasmania). The are not venomous and no threat – the are burrowing snakes, so not commonly seen on the surface. However, it is most common to see them on the surface following rain.
Hi Jasmine, Ramphotyphlops australis is found in the drier parts of Southern Australia and so would be found in parts of South Australia. These snakes are not venomous and are nothing to worry about.
Sappy, it is generally very difficult to "unearth" blind snakes, who like to remain underground; however, heavy rains will obviously disrupt all burrowing species in a certain area, for a time. And Selina, there are numerous blind snake species in the Northern Territory; in fact, blind snakes love tropical environments, and there is even a species known as the Darwin Blind Snake. Hope this helps!
Thanks for your offer! The Discovery Centre can certainly pass on the images you took of a blind snake to our Herpetology Curator. You can send any images and information to the Discovery Centre via our Ask the Experts enquiry form.
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