CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California



Brahminy Blindsnake - Indotyphlops braminus

(Daudin, 1803)

(= Ramphotyphlops braminus)
Click on a picture for a larger view



Brahminy Blindsnake California Range MapRed: General likely range of non-native
populations in California, so far.


Click on the map for a topographical view

Map with California County Names


List of Non-Native Reptiles and Amphibians
Established in California





observation link






This species has been introduced into California. It is not a native species.

If you think you found a Brahminy Blindsnake in California:

Please notify Dr. Gregory B. Pauly at gpauly@nhm.org. Dr. Pauly is Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and is part of a team that is documenting the rapid introduction and establishment of this species into Southern California with the help of people who contact this website and other citizen science projects. If you can, take pictures and send them to him, including close-ups of the eyes and nose if possible. Also, please keep the snake if you can. Someone may want to collect and examine it to confirm that it is a Brahminy Blindsnake and not a native Western Threadsnake which looks a lot like it. 

Click here for information about how to tell if a snake is a Brahminy Blindsnake or a Western Threadsnake. It's not easy to see the tiny details on these little snakes, especially when they are scared and squirming around, so if you are still in doubt of the species after checking the identification information, please contact Dr. Pauly anyway. You are welcome to contact me at this web site also if you need to.

Two adults, San Diego County
© Ryan Brooks
Adult, San Diego County
© Ryan Brooks
Adult, San Diego County
© Ryan Brooks
Brahminy Blindsnake  
Adult, San Diego County
© Ryan Brooks
Specimen found in a home in
Chula Vista, San Diego County 2015
 
 
Brahminy Blindsnakes From Outside California
Brahminy Blindsnake
Adult, Kauai, Hawaii
Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake
Adult female (all snakes of this species are female), Kauai, Hawaii Adult, showing tongue, Kauai, Hawaii Adult, Kauai, Hawaii
Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake
Adult, Kauai, Hawaii Adult, Kauai, Hawaii Underside of adult, Kauai, Hawaii
Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake
Eye Nose Tongue
Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake Brahminy Blindsnake
Spine on end of tail Adult, Monroe County, Florida
     
Habitat
Brahminy Blindsnake Habitat Brahminy Blindsnake Habitat Brahminy Blindsnake Habitat
Three views of the area where the snakes were first documented in Chula Vista, San Diego County, in 2011.
They have subsequently been observed in many other places in the state, mostly urban and suburban areas in coastal Southern California.
 
Short Video
Brahminy Blindsnake YOUTUBE  
A Brahminy Blind Snake found in Florida is released, and crawls away rapidly with serpentine motion. This YouTube video from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles gives information and a good look at a Brahminy Blindsnake.  
   
Description

Not Dangerous (Not poisonous, Non-venomous)  -  This snake does not have venom that is dangerous to most humans.

Size
2.5 - 7 inches in length (14 - 18 cm.) This is one of the smallest snakes in the world.

Appearance
A small, dark, worm-like snake with smooth, shiny scales, a short head with no neck, a short tail which ends in a small spine, and light spots where the eyes should be.
18 - 20 midbody scale rows.
20 uniform rows of costal scales.
The nasal shields are divided and the eye is not entirely in the Ocular shield.
Color and Pattern
Color is typically dark brown, but can be pale or yellowish brown, or grey.
The underside is lighter than the rest of the body.

Similar Snakes in California
Brahminy Blindsnakes look very much like California native Western Threadsnakes. You can't tell the difference between the two species without looking closely at one or more tiny details - the rostral scale, the dark eye spot, or the length of the tail.
Go to this page for a more detailed explanation on comparing the Western Threadsnake with the Braminy Blindsnake.

Life History and Behavior
This species has colonized much of the world by stowing away in the soil of nursery plants, due to its small size and ability to reproduce on its own without having to find a mate of the same species.

Spends much time underground, but also found underneath surface objects and on the surface, especially after saturating rains.

In California they show a lot of surface activity from the end of August to mid October. (GP)

The eyes are not capable of seeing, but they can detect the presence of light.
Diet and Feeding
Eats ants, insect larvae, and other small invertebrates.
Reproduction
This snake is parthenogenetic - reproduction is asexual. Growth and development of embryos takes place without fertilization from a male snake. All species collected have been females.
Females are oviporous - they lay 2 to 7 tiny eggs.
Up to eight offspring are produced at a time.

The ability of a single snake to reproduce has helped this species to spread around the world more easily than species which require sexual reproduction between a male and a female.

This is the only parthenogenetic snake species known so far, (although Acrochordus arafurae might also be parthenogenetic). 

Habitat
Prefers warm areas with high soil humidity. Typically found in urban and agricultural areas near ant and termite nests, but also found in gardens, jungles, forests, and other habitats. Usually found under logs, rocks, rotting wood, moist leaves and humus.

Geographical Range
This is the most wide-ranging terrestrial snake in the world. It is most likely native to South Asia, but has been reported worldwide in the warmer areas of every continent except Antarctica, though it is still absent from most of Europe.

Besides California, in the United States the Brahminy Blindsnake has been established in Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia, and could be established elsewhere.

Sightings in California
The species has been observed in California since about the year 2000 and has spread rapidly.

As of 2022 Brahminy Blindsnakes have become widespread in San Diego, Orange, and Los Angeles counties and parts of Riverside County. They have also been found in western San Bernardino County. They can be expected just about anywhere in coastal Southern California and the Inland Empire. They have also been found in Thousand Oaks in Ventura County, and in Bakersfield and Kern County, and are expected to be found in other locations in the San Joaquin Valley.

You can try to keep up with the spread by checking the observations and map on iNaturalist.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The first record from California was published in 2010:
Palmer, Daniel D., and Robert N. Fisher. Herpetological Review Volume 41, Number 4 - December 2010 P. 518.
"RAMPHOTYPHLOPS BRAMINUS (Brahminy Blind Snake). USA: CALIFORNIA: San diego co.: City of Chula Vista  ....
07 November 2006. Marcos Dominguez, Sarmed D. Alzubaidi, and Stanley O’Gara.


A second specimen was collected on 28 September 2009 by Daniel D. Palmer, Tony E. Garcia, Trevor H. Jordan. Verified by Jens Vindum. California Academy of Sciences (CAS 244221–244222).
This is the first record for California and the west coast of the USA (Kraus 2009. Alien Reptiles and Amphibians: A Scientific Compendium and Analysis. Invading Nature: Springer Series in Invasion Ecology 4. Springer-Verlag. 563 pp.). Apparently reproducing and established given that the first specimen was an adult collected in 2006 and the second specimen collected in 2009 was a small juvenile. Both were found in an urban setting. It is not known if this species will invade native habitats in southern California or presents a risk to native species. Urban Chula Vista is dominated by invasive Argentine Ants (Linepithema humile) and it is assumed that this invasive will be abundant prey for the snake.

Submitted by DANIEL D. PALMER, Wildlife Research Institute, 18030 Highland Valley Road, Ramona, California 92065, USA; and ROBERT N. FISHER U.S. Geological Survey, San Diego Field Station, 4165 Spruance Road, Suite 200, San Diego, California 92101-0812, USA; e-mail: rfisher@usgs.gov."

Notes on Taxonomy
Formerly Ramphotyphlops braminus - Brahminy Blindsnake (Daudin, 1803)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
None known.
Taxonomy
Family Typhlopidae Blindsnakes Merrem, 1820
Genus Indotyphlops South Asian Blindsnakes Hedges, Marion, Lipp, Marin, and Vidal, 2014
Species

braminus Brahminy Blindsnake (Daudin, 1803)
Original Description
Ramphotyphlops: Fitzinger, 1843
R. braminus: (Daudin, 1803)

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Indotyphlops - Indo- refers to the Indian subcontinent, referring to the snake's geographic origin
"typhlops" = blind, referring to the snake's lack of eyes.
braminus = Latinized form of "Brahmin" a Hindu caste.

(formerly Ramphotyphlops = Greek "rhamphos" = a curving beak or bill, "typhlops" = blind.)

Alternate Names
Common Blind Snake
Flowerpot Snake
Island Blind Snake
Hawaiian Blind Snake

Related or Similar California Herps
Southwestern Threadsnake - Rena humilis humilis
Desert Threadsnake - Rena humilis cahuilae

More Information and References
Palmer, Daniel D., and Robert N. Fisher. Herpetological Review Volume 41, Number 4 - December 2010 P. 518.

McKeown, Sean. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians in the Hawaiian Islands. 1996.

Bartlett, Richard D., and Patricia Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Snakes of Eastern and Central North America (North of Mexico) 2006).

Tennant, Alan. A Field Guide to Snakes of Florida (The Geological Field Guide Series) 1997.

Conant, R., Collins, J. T. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, Third Edition. 1998.

Wall, Frank. Snakes of Ceylon. 1921.

Conservation Status

The following conservation status listings for this animal are taken from the July 2022 State of California "Special Animals List" and the July 2022 "State and Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Animals of California" list, both of which are produced by multiple agencies and can be downloaded here: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Data/CNDDB/Plants-and-Animals.
You can check this link to see if there are more current lists.

A detailed explanation of the meaning of the status listing symbols can be found on the
Special Animals List. For quick reference, I have copied some of them on my Special Status Information page.

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.

This snake is not included on the Special Animals List, which indicates that there are no significant conservation concerns for it yet in California.

Organization Status Listing  Notes
NatureServe Global Ranking
NatureServe State Ranking
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN


Home Site Map About Us Identification Lists Maps Photos More Lists CA Snakes CA Lizards CA Turtles CA Salamanders CA Frogs
Contact Us Usage Resources Rattlesnakes Sounds Videos FieldHerping Yard Herps Behavior Herp Fun CA Regulations
Beyond CA All Herps


Return to the Top

 © 2000 -